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In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Washington State Patrol On Lookout For Open Containers of Marijuana

Drug Enforcement Agency
A new Washington state law prohibits having an open container of marijuana in the passenger compartments of vehicles.

The Washington State Patrol has a warning for drivers: it’s now illegal to have an open container of marijuana in the passenger compartments of vehicles.

The new pot-in-cars law is modeled on Washington’s longstanding open container law for alcohol. Just like you can’t drive down the road with an open beer, no longer can you legally drive with an open container of marijuana or marijuana infused products.

Trooper Mark Hodgson said even a closed Ziploc bag is a violation.

“If you can open that bag and get into it and then reseal it, that’s not going to meet the requirement,” he said.

The requirement is that marijuana products go in the trunk or back of the vehicle where they’re not accessible. The glove box doesn’t count. It is OK to have marijuana or marijuana products in the passenger compartment if they’re in their original package and the seal has not been broken.

Troopers say for now they’re mainly trying to get the word out, but an open container violation can bring a $136 ticket.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."