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Vancouver marijuana shop opens Wednesday: Do you know the law?

Marijuana shop takes over what used to be a jewelry store on Main Street.
Elizabeth R. Rose

Vancouver, Washington's Main Street is expecting up to 500 people to come to a new shop that is opening tomorrow, Wednesday. So what's the draw? This is the first day the Main Street pot shop will be open under the new law de-criminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The store, Main Street Marijuana, came in first in the Washington State Liquor Control Board lottery for retailers in Vancouver.

Will it be a free-for-all with people smoking joints on Main Street? Will people be lighting up and driving back across the I-5 Bridge to Portland? Hardly. There are laws you know!

The Vancouver Police reminds us of the laws in force:

1. Can I consume Marijuana in public places such as parks or in my vehicle?

NO. Washington State law, or Revised Code of Washington, RCW 69.50.445 states: It is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana- infused product, or consume marijuana, useable marijuana, or a marijuana-infused product, in view of the general public. A person who violates this section is guilty of a class 3 civil infraction under chapter 7.80 RCW.

The penalty for opening a package of or consuming marijuana, useable marijuana, or marijuana-infused product in view of general public is a civil fine of $103.

2. Crossing the Washington State line

Washington laws on possession and consumption of marijuana differ from the laws of other states (including Oregon). Anyone buying marijuana in Washington should understand the laws of the state you are traveling to before crossing the state line. Failure to do so could result in criminal action being taken against you.

3. Remind me of the legal possession amounts?

• The law allows a person 21 or older to have up to 1 ounce of useable marijuana OR up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product OR up to seventy-two ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form. (i.e., you may NOT possess the maximum amount of marijuana in two or more forms at any one time.)

• Possession of more than 28 grams, but less than 40 grams is still a misdemeanor.

• Possession of 40 grams of marijuana is still a felony.

What does the new law mean for law enforcement?

• I-502 changes very little for law enforcement, it merely de-criminalizes possession of limited amounts of marijuana. Consumption and opening a package of marijuana in public are civil infractions.

• It is still illegal for persons under 21 years of age to possess or consume any amount of marijuana or marijuana-infused products.

• Driving under the influence of marijuana or under the combined influence of marijuana and anything else, such as alcohol, is illegal and law enforcement agencies continue to strictly enforce DUI laws.

This information provided by the Vancouver Police Department

Main Street Marijuana is located at 2314 Main Street in Vancouver, Washington.

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