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Could those working in marijuana industry face arrest?

Marijuana has been in the news a lot recently, especially in states like Washington where the substance is legal for both medical and recreational use. Just because marijuana has been legalized to some extent, though, doesn't mean there isn't still plenty of confusion surrounding state and federal laws. Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, those who use marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes are likely to have plenty of legal questions or concerns.

Per federal law, it is illegal not only to purchase marijuana, but also to grow it, sell it or even possess it. Thus, in states like neighboring Idaho, one can face an arrest or even federal drug charges for certain activities related to marijuana. However, in Washington State, state laws offer an affirmative defense to prosecution for medical marijuana patients. For example, a qualified patient may possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana classified as useable or up to 15 plants.

Washington State residents can also purchase marijuana for recreational use so long as they are at least 21 years old, the retail store is properly licensed, and the amount and type of marijuana purchased is within the boundaries set forth by state law.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has taken an interest in those who cultivate or distribute marijuana, even in states where its medicinal or recreational use has been legalized. Thus, some in Washington may find themselves being accused of a federal crime or facing federal charges for their participation in the marijuana industry. A legal team experienced in federal criminal defense can be a critical resource for those who are involved in Washington's medical or recreational marijuana industry.

Source: Washington State Department of Health, "Medical Marijuana," accessed July 18, 2015

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