It remains legal for adults, but if you're caught with marijuana while underage in Washington State, you could face a felony.
A prosecutor in southeast Washington State has filed felony charges against three teenagers who were caught with marijuana. According to a report from the Associated Press, the three teens are staring down felony charges thanks to a new law that demands that the offense be taken extremely seriously.
The teens, aged 14, 15, and 17, were charged in Asotin County with felonies that could put each behind bars for up to five years. Before the new law was implemented, the maximum penalty for marijuana possession was a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail.
The Asotin County Prosecutor Ben Nichols cited Senate Bill 5052 as the reason for the harsh penalties raised against the teens. It was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee earlier this year. According to Nichols, “If you are a minor, a person under 21, it’s a felony no matter what.”
The bill was sponsored by State Senator Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who said the harsh penalty was intended to dissuade minors from getting their hands on any pot. “We have to send a message to our kids: This will hurt you in more ways than one if you decide to participate,” said Rivers.
The law will remain on the books until the legislature meets again in 2016, when many legislators say that they will fight to change the punishment. In the meantime, the three teenagers will still face felony charges under the new Washington law.