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Washington Drug Cultivation and Distribution Laws

If you have a controlled substance in your car, hand bag, or pocket, you could be charged with possession of drugs. Depending on the situation and the amount, you could face the more severe charge of possession with the intent to distribute, in violation of Washington's drug distribution laws. State law prohibits an individual from engaging in the following actions:

  • Manufacturing or delivering -- or possessing with intent to manufacture or deliver -- a controlled substance.
  • Creating, delivering, or possessing a counterfeit controlled substance.
  • Compensating, threatening, or otherwise involving a minor in an unlawful controlled substance transaction.

Sale and Distribution of Marijuana

Although Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use, retail sales are restricted to sales to those age 21 and older by Washington-licensed entities regulated by the state.

Cultivation of Marijuana

Like distribution, cultivation of marijuana is restricted despite the drug's legality. Only licensed growers are allowed to cultivate for recreational use. However, home cultivation is permitted for medicinal marijuana under specific circumstances.

Classification of Controlled Substances in Washington

Like many states, Washington classifies controlled substances by "schedules." The schedules (based on a federal classification) are determined by their level of danger and the connection between a high risk of addiction; in general, the higher the risk for addiction, the greater the danger level, which means that the charges associated with the more dangerous drugs correlate to more severe penalties.

Washington Drug Cultivation and Distribution Laws at a Glance

When analyzing a legal issue, it's essential to know the literal language of the relevant statutes. However, it's also useful to learn about the law by using a quick and easy explanation written in everyday terms. Read the chart below for a brief overview of Washington's drug cultivation and distribution laws.


Washington Revised Code:

  • Section 69.50.401 (manufacturing/delivering/possessing with intent)
  • Section 69.50.4011 (counterfeit substances- penalties)


Possible Penalties and Sentencing


The actual penalties will depend on the specific circumstances of the case (the amount and type of drug involved, and the location) and are determined by the Sentencing Reform Act and state guidelines.

  • Possession with intent to distribute is categorized in the same way as manufacturing or distributing the controlled substance; all three offenses are considered equally severe and are classified as Class B felonies.
  • If you're convicted, you can face up to 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $25,000, depending on the amount of the drug found.
  • If the drugs involved in your case are less addictive, it constitutes a Class C felony, which is punishable by 5 years in prison, fines up to $10,000.
  • The cultivation of marijuana of any amount is punishable by 5 years, fines up to $10,000.

Counterfeit Substances Penalties:

Class B felony (incarceration by up to ten years, up to $2,500 in fines)

  • Schedule I or II which is a narcotic drug or flunitrazepam classified in Schedule IV
  • Methamphetamine

Class C felony (incarceration by up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines)

  • Nonnarcotic Schedule I, II, III substances
  • Schedule IV (other than flunitrazepam)

Penalty Enhancements:

  • Protected zones: If the offender commits the crime near a public park or playground or school, the crime is punishable by double fines.
  • Sale to a minor: The minor is at least 3 years younger than the perpetrator.
  • Firearm/deadly weapon: The offender committed crime while in possession of a firearm or deadly weapon.

Possible Defenses

  • Personal use possession
  • Entrapment
  • Fourth Amendment violations

Related Offenses

Washington Revised Code:

  • Section 69.50.4015 (involving a minor in unlawful drug transaction)
  • Section 69.50.4013 (controlled substances possession)
  • Section: 69.50.4012 (delivery substitution in lieu of controlled substance)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Washington Drug Cultivation and Distribution Laws: Related Resources

Worried about Drug Charges in Washington? Locate an Attorney

If you're accused of breaking Washington's drug distribution laws or cultivation laws, then you're likely to spend some time behind bars if convicted. That's why it's important to use FindLaw's attorney directory to locate an attorney with drug crime experience who can assess the strength of the case against you, challenge evidence, and advocate on your behalf.

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