Some Washington pot lovers thought they would forever have to smoke in the shadows - until voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Then some pot producers and sellers worried that the federal government would preempt state law and arrest them anyway - until the Justice Department stated that it wouldn't proactively prosecute marijuana crimes in states where it is legal.
But there's still a segment of the marijuana industry that is concerned about its well-being: pot growers who cultivate their crop in Washington's non-mainland areas.This group consists of people who plan to grow and process marijuana on Vashon Island, Orcas Island, Point Roberts, Lummi Island, Lopez Island, San Juan Island, and other areas with limited or no land-based connection to the mainland. That's because in order to transport pot to the rest of the state, they will have to either travel by boat or plane - modes of travel which are overseen by the United States Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration, respectively.
The fear is that if personnel from these federal agencies seize the marijuana while in transit, these Washingtonians would be subject to arrest and prosecution - even though they wouldn't be committing a crime if they were on dry land. And these entrepreneurs not necessarily safe if they take the Washington State Ferries, because those vessels are regulated by the Coast Guard. Neither the Coast Guard nor the FAA have issued any type of comforting statement that rules out such a scenario.
Currently, it is believed that eight pot processors and 14 marijuana growers are awaiting approval on Vashon Island alone, with three other licenses pending on other islands. Many of them are hoping that Coast Guard personnel working the ferries embrace a "don't ask, don't tell" approach. But it remains to be seen how this problem will be resolved in practice.