If you’re going to travel with cannabis in-hand or plan to seek it out at your destination, it's important to get up-to-speed on the legalities of cannabis to make sure you don't land yourself in hot water.
Cannabis might still be considered illegal on a federal level, but it's increasingly being legalized on a state-by-state basis. Thanks to Proposition 215 back in 1996, for example, California became the first state in the US to legalize medical cannabis, and Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis in 2012.
Today, 10 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized both adult-use and medical marijuana, with many more allowing medical cannabis.
Whether you're planning to take your cannabis with you when you travel or are considering checking out dispensaries in states where adult use is legal, you'll need to know the laws around traveling with marijuana before you go.
So, what are the legalities that you should be up-to-speed on when it comes to traveling with cannabis?
If you’re planning on driving with cannabis in the car, a bit of common sense will serve you well. Much like you wouldn’t drive with an open bottle of beer in your car, you can’t drive around with easy access to marijuana while driving, either. Neither you as a driver nor any of your passengers are allowed to easily access your marijuana stash if you want to stay within compliance of the law.
In most states where cannabis is legal, you're allowed to travel with small amounts of cannabis in your possession, typically up to an ounce, as long as it's kept in a sealed container and out of the driver’s reach. So, make sure your marijuana is all sealed up and left in your trunk to be on the safe side.
The laws get even more detailed. For example, California Vehicle Code 23222(b) VC states that it’s illegal to transport more than one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis in a sealed container. And when it comes to edibles, California law states that these products have to be clearly labeled and have no more than 10 mg of THC per serving.
Similar rules apply in places like Colorado, Oregon, and most other states. No open containers of marijuana in the passenger area of a car are permitted by law, regardless of whether or not you're in a state that has legalized marijuana.
Not only that, but you're also not allowed to use marijuana on federal lands, such as national parks and forests, since cannabis is still federally illegal.
As far as walking around with cannabis on you is concerned, it's generally allowed in legalized states, up to a limit. In California, for example, adults aged 21 and over can buy and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate thanks to Proposition 64.
Again, similar rules apply in most states where marijuana is legal.
Read more: 11 High-End California Cannabis Dispensaries
As you now know, you can transport cannabis products with you in a car, as long as you follow strict rules about the amount you're carrying, how it's being carried, and whether or not it's accessible to the driver and passengers.
But what about crossing state lines? It's easy to find out the laws in the state you're visiting, but what happens if you want to cross from one state to another?
According to federal law, transporting any federally-restricted substance - like marijuana - across state lines is illegal. But what if you’re traveling from one legal state to another, such as California to Oregon? Do the same rules apply?
Yes, the same laws still exist. Since state lines fall within federal government jurisdiction, it's still illegal, even if cannabis is legal in both states. For example, both Oregon's House Bill 4014 and Nevada NRS 453.321 state that taking cannabis across state lines is illegal.
Federal laws don’t distinguish between legal, illegal, or medical states. You’ll technically be breaking the law if you try and take cannabis from one state to another.
And the consequences of breaking this law can be pretty stiff. In fact, you could face as much as five years in federal prison and a fine of anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million for a first offense, and up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million for a second offense.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going from legal state to legal state, or legal state to illegal state: federal laws are still the same.
The laws surrounding driving around with cannabis are pretty straightforward. But flying with cannabis is a bit more complex, especially when you’re traveling to other states or countries where cannabis is illegal.
Again, marijuana is still federally illegal. That means if you try to make your way onto a plane, passing post-security areas in airports could be problematic because these areas are still governed by federal agencies. To put it bluntly, you can really find yourself facing some serious penalties if you’re found trying to bring cannabis with you across state border lines.
It doesn’t matter where you’re going or where you’re coming from. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn't take into account a passenger’s originating and destination airports.
However, the laws surrounding marijuana possession on planes and airports are starting to relax.
For instance, the Los Angeles Airport Police Department now allows passengers to travel through LAX airport with up to an ounce of cannabis and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana. But passengers should still be aware of cannabis laws across different states and countries where they plan to travel to.
At the end of the day, marijuana may be legal in many states, but bringing cannabis across state lines is still a no-go. So before you hit the road with your stash, make sure you look into the exact laws in both the state you're coming from and your destination.