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Washington Drug Possession Laws

The possession of an illegal drug can result in serious criminal charges. In Washington it's unlawful for any person to possess a controlled substance unless it was obtained from a valid prescription or was otherwise legally authorized. The severity of drug possession charges generally correlates with the type of drug and amount, as well as the existence of prior convictions and other factors.

Controlled Substances in Washington

Controlled substances include heroin, oxycodone, methamphetamine, Oxycontin, and cocaine, among others. Although Washington allows for the legal use of marijuana both medically and recreationally, there still are limits. For instance, for an individual under the age of 21, possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor. However, most non-cannabis drug possession charges in Washington are felonies.

Washington Drug Possession Laws at a Glance

Although it's advisable to work with an attorney for complex cases, you can begin your initial legal research with the following clear-cut overview of Washington's drug possession laws.


Washington Revised Code:


Possible Penalties


The actual penalties will depend on the exact details of the case and many factors including the type of drug involved and the criminal history of the defendant.

Possession of a controlled substance is a Class C felony and punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.

Alternative Sentencing: If a defendant meets certain criteria, the court may waive giving out a sentence within the standard sentence range and instead impose one that consists of either a prison-based alternative or a residential chemical dependency treatment-based alternative.

Possible Defenses

  • Entrapment
  • Fourth Amendment violations
  • Drugs didn't belong to the defendant
  • Unwitting possession (the defendant didn't know that the drug was in their possession or didn't know nature of the substance)

Related Offenses

Washington Revised Code:

  • Section: 69.50.4012 (delivery substitution in lieu of controlled substance)
  • Section 69.50.4121 (giving or selling drug paraphernalia)

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 Possession Laws: Related Resources

Locate a Washington Attorney to Discuss Drug Possession Charges

If you're accused of violating Washington's drug possession laws, then you might be looking at severe charges depending on the drug involved. Take immediate action by reviewing your case with a skilled legal professional who can zealously defend your rights. Locate an experienced attorney near you today.

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