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Questions About Cannabis 

Legal marijuana is here, and there are a few things you should know

click to enlarge One of the first baggies of marijuana sold legally in Spokane, at Green Leaf on July 8. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • One of the first baggies of marijuana sold legally in Spokane, at Green Leaf on July 8.

After voters approved Initiative 502 in 2012, possessing an ounce of marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older in Washington. And last month, the Washington State Liquor Control Board finally allowed retail stores to open for business.

What's legal and what's not?

If you're under 21, sorry. No recreational cannabis for you. If you're 21 or older, you can now enter a state-licensed pot store, show your ID and buy up to one ounce. There is no public consumption (you could get a $50 ticket); no sharing with minors (that's still a felony and the authorities are taking it very seriously); if it's in your car, keep the packaging closed; and don't drive high — it's illegal.

What if I live in Idaho?

Don't transport marijuana across the border. It's illegal there and that's unlikely to change in the near future.

Can I get fired for smoking pot?

Yes. Employers are still free to enforce weed-free workplaces.

What's on the label?

On labels, you'll find the name of the product or strain and its "potency profile," explaining how much THC — the stuff that gets you high — is in the product. You'll also see the product's weight, its harvest date and warnings about its intoxicating effects. Edibles will have recommended serving sizes (the state defines one serving as 10 milligrams of active THC).

What's the difference between medical and recreational pot?

Yes, pot has been sort of legal here for more than a decade, and you or someone you know may already have a hookup. But that market is for medical users, and there are plenty of people out there who need marijuana as medicine, which is why trying to fold the two industries together has been so controversial. For now, Washington's medical marijuana collective gardens will live on in the legal gray areas alongside the recreational market.

Who should NOT smoke pot?

Kids. Without a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana, it's illegal for anyone under 21 to possess pot in Washington, and some research shows it can interfere with brain development. The National Alliance on Mental Illness warns against the use of marijuana by anyone with risk of or a diagnosed mental illness because it can worsen their symptoms. ♦

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