Substance abuse is a rampant issue throughout the United States, some states are affected more than others. Certain drugs are far more prevalent in different geographic regions. The North East battles with opioids and crack at rates higher than the rest of the country. Meth use is one of the most prominent issues in the West. Black tar heroin, benzos, and marijuana are significant drug threats to Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Then there is Washington state. The state’s residents struggle with a variety of substances, including opiates, meth, prescription drugs, cocaine, alcohol, and even marijuana. It has some of the highest drug and alcohol abuse rates in all of the United States.
Last year there were nearly 3,000 alcohol-related deaths throughout the state. These deaths can be attributed to drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, or alcohol-related health issues. 17% of Washington residents over the age of 21 reported binge drinking at least one time over the past 30 days. Binge drinking is classified as having 5 or more alcoholic drinks over a short period of time. The occasional overindulgence of alcohol isn’t too harmful to the human body, but excessive binge drinking or driving under the influence can be extremely detrimental.
Heroin, cocaine, meth, marijuana and prescription drugs are all serious threats to Washington State. Meth-related overdoses are much lower in Washington state when compared to the national average. There were 21 fatal meth overdose deaths in Washington’s capital in 2013.
Most of the meth used in the country comes from Mexico and is around 90% pure. This means it is far more addictive and deadly.
Small homemade meth labs are still quite common in WA. These labs produce meth that averages around 40% purity. While still highly addictive it is not as deadly as the meth being made by the cartel. In 2017 there were a total of 476 meth-related overdose deaths throughout the state. Breaking free from the powerful grip of meth addiction alone is no easy task. Please, if you or someone you care about are currently struggling, seek out professional help.
In November of 2012, voters in Washington approved a bill that made marijuana for adults aged 21 and over legal for recreational and medical use. The sale of all cannabis throughout the state is regulated by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, which used to be called the Liquor Control Board. Upon legalizations, questions arose throughout the state about how the new laws would impact the drug’s use among adults and adolescents throughout the state.
A decrease in Violent Crime
Some people believe that the legalization of the drug would also increase violent crime throughout the state. This was the complete opposite of what happened. According to FBI data, 295.6 violent offenses were reported in 2011 per 100,000 residents of Washington. This rate fell to 284.4 violent offenses per 100,000 people in 2015 which was one of the last full years of data available to the public. According to the same reports, back in 2012 there were 3.6 violent offenses per 1,000 state residents, by 2016, the state’s violent crime rate dropped to 3.3 offenses per 1,000 people.
Not only are violent crime rates down, but the state is saving billions of dollars a year by not imprisoning those charged with marijuana-related offenses. State data showed that there were 1,312 marijuana-related felony offenses committed between June 2008 and December 2009 in Washington. During the 18-month period following the opening of recreational cannabis stores in 2014, only 147 crimes related to marijuana led to felony sentences-a decrease of almost 90 percent.
Teen Marijuana Use Washington State
The fears that legalizing cannabis in Washington would increase teen use have also been proven false. According to new research, the number of teens who use marijuana since the new laws were passed has decreased significantly. The main difference in use was observed among teens between 15 and 16 years of age, whose use of the drug decreased from about 20% to less than 18%. Among 8th graders, the use of marijuana fell from nearly 10% to just over 7%. There was no notable change for high school seniors aged 17-18.
As of December of 2018, there were a total of 36,925 active medical marijuana cards in Washington state. A vast majority of these cards, 33,800, are for adults over the age of 18. There were 346 cards for minors under the age of 18 and 2,979 designated provider cards. Medical marijuana allows those with a card to possess and grow their own marijuana, which is quite different than the recreational laws.
In 2012 Washington State decriminalized marijuana and made it legal for both medical and recreational use. This does not mean that there are no laws that regulate the sale and use of the drug. A number of restrictions still exist and if one does not follow these strict guidelines they might face a variety of legal repercussions. It is important for you to be aware of the following Washington marijuana laws
Legal Marijuana in Washington State
Marijuana can only be bought and possessed by adults aged 21 and over. Anyone of legal age can buy up to one ounce of usable marijuana when it is in its plant or flower form. When sold as edibles one can possess up to one pound of solid-formed edibles that have cannabis in them. In its liquid form, one can have up to 72 ounces of the drug and up to 7 grams of concentrated marijuana.
One cannot just start selling and buying marijuana anywhere in Washington state. Pot can only be bought and sold throughout Washington by retail stores that have been licensed to do so by the state. A valid photo ID is required to purchase the drug and these retail stores do not allow anyone under 21 to enter. Most retail stores in the state accept both cash and credit cards.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
Consuming marijuana in public is not allowed in Washington and can result in fines and potential jail time. If one is operating a motor vehicle and has more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood they can face DUI charges similar to that of alcohol which are substantial legal penalties. No one should attempt to take marijuana across state lines and is very illegal. One will face years imprisonment and massive fines if they attempt to bring marijuana across the Washington state border.