Seattle Hempfest organizers ejected a man who was trying to break the record for the world's largest joint from their recent event. They say the man—who entered the park with a 20-foot-long piece of paper but no actual marijuana—would be breaking marijuana laws. Specifically, event organizers insisted, a group of people who combine more than an ounce of pot are breaking the state's new pot law, which limits possession to one ounce.
I was curious about the claim: Are several people who collectively possess more than one ounce breaking state law? For example, can a married couple possess two ounces in the same house? Or in the same jar? What about a frat house with half a pound of weed among eight dudes? I asked Alison Holcomb, author of Initiative 502 and a criminal defense attorney, to weigh in.
Holcomb says the issue concerns a legal matter called "constructive possession," in which a person can be held liable for property owned by others—for example, a person with keys to a neighbor's car may be in constructive possession of that car. But to be charged for another person's pot, one must "exert control" over that pot, either physically—holding it—or by having final say over what happens to it.
"As a married couple, Gregg and I have a very good understanding of what's mine, what's his, and what's ours," she explains, referring to her husband. "Neither of us exerts control over property that belongs to the other."
Thus, under state law at least, spouses may possess one ounce per partner, as long as the ounces are not commingled and each partner doesn't touch the other's stash. The same goes for the frat boys, assuming they don't mix their ounces in a giant frat-house weed jar.
So to comply with state law, keep your weed in separate jars, keep your hands off other people's stashes—meaning don't pass the pipe—and don't roll joints heavier than an ounce.