Travel

Traveling with Marijuana and Cannabis Products

Marijuana, also called pot, weed, ganja, and Mary Jane, consists of dried portions of the cannabis plant, most commonly the flower buds. In recent years, science has discovered that cannabis products are effective in treating a variety of illnesses.  That discovery led to a movement to legalize the drug. 

Currently, the laws regulating marijuana are in a state of flux.  Federal law still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 drug that is illegal to possess.  That puts it in the same category as heroin despite the two substances being worlds apart in their risk and propensity for addiction.  On the other hand, state law is a hodge-podge of conflicting statutes and regulations.  Some states have decriminalized cannabis products; others allow medical marijuana to be sold to people with certain documented medical conditions.  A third group of states continues to criminalize marijuana with a variety of possible penalties.

State

Legal Status

Decriminalized

Alabama

Illegal

No

Alaska

Legal

Yes

Arizona

Medical Allowed

No

Arkansas

Medical

No

California

Legal

Yes

Colorado

Legal

Yes

Connecticut

Medical

Reduced

Delaware

Medical

Reduced

District of Columbia

Legal

Yes

Florida

Medical

No

Georgia

Illegal

No

Hawaii

Medical

No

Idaho

Illegal

No

Illinois

Medical

Reduced

Indiana

Illegal

No

Iowa

Illegal

No

Kansas

Illegal

No

Kentucky

Illegal

No

Louisiana

Illegal

No

Maine

Legal

Yes

Maryland

Medical

Reduced

Massachusetts

Legal

Yes

Michigan

Legal

Yes

Minnesota

Medical

Reduced

Mississippi

Illegal

Reduced

Missouri

Medical

Reduced

Montana

Medical

No

Nebraska

Illegal

No

Nevada

Legal

Yes

New Hampshire

Medical

Reduced

New Jersey

Medical

No

New Mexico

Medical

No

New York

Medical

Reduced

North Carolina

Illegal

Reduced

North Dakota

Medical

No

State

Legal Status

Decriminalized

Ohio

Medical

Reduced

Oklahoma

Medical

No

Oregon

Legal

Yes

Pennsylvania

Medical

No

Rhode Island

Medical

Reduced

South Carolina

Illegal

No

South Dakota

Illegal

No

Tennessee

Illegal

No

Texas

Illegal

No

Utah

Medical

No

Vermont

Legal

Yes

Virginia

Illegal

No

Washington

Legal

Yes

West Virginia

Medical

No

Wisconsin

Illegal

No

Wyoming

Illegal

No

 If you go through the chart in the following article in our resources list: www.disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state, you will be able to click on the various states to find specific information about reduced criminal laws in the states listed as “reduced.”  In some of those states, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a civil rather than criminal offense.  In others, the charges are less than those under federal law.

Marijuana and cannabis products are completely legal in 10 states plus the District of Columbia.  There are 22 states that allow medical marijuana. The remaining 18 align with federal law by making marijuana totally illegal to possess.

Traveling By Air Within The U.S.

Can you take your pot on board with you if you are traveling from a state where marijuana is legal?  What if you are flying from California to Maine (two states where pot is totally legal)? Those are dicey questions.  You must keep in mind that the TSA is a federal agency, and marijuana is illegal under federal law.  The TSA lists medical marijuana as a prohibited item.  That includes cannabis infused products like CBD oil.  Once you hit that security checkpoint, you are under federal jurisdiction. 

Of course, the TSA’s focus is preventing terrorism and violence on aircraft, not illegal drugs. Screeners do not actively search for illegal drugs. TSA spokesperson, Lorie Dankers, made the following statement: “As has always been the case, if during the security screening process. a TSA officer discovers an item that may violate the law, TSA refers the matter to local law enforcement.”  What does that mean?  It means the consequences of TSA finding pot in your carryon or checked luggage will probably depend on the state and the airport. 

For example:  LAX (Los Angeles) airport police will allow passengers to travel through the airport with up to 28.5 grams of pot and up to 8 grams of concentrated marijuana.  If the TSA finds your supply and calls airport police, the police will simply let you go so long as your stash falls within the permitted amount.  That is not true everywhere.  Even though pot is legal in Colorado, Nevada and Massachusetts, it is prohibited at Logan International Airport in Boston, McCarran International in Las Vegas, and Denver International.  People found at these airports with marijuana will be asked to discard it.

The bottom line on U.S. air travel is this.  If you are flying from one legal state to another, your risk for transporting allowable amounts is fairly low.  That being said, caution is advised.  Keep the marijuana product stowed in your carryon bag; do not attempt to use the drug in the airport or on the plane.  Believe it or not, there have been instances of idiots smoking pot in an airplane lavatory and being arrested on federal charges.  One other caveat, virtually every commercial airline has a policy prohibiting marijuana on flights.

International Travel

It is never a good idea to travel to a foreign country with marijuana products in your possession – even to those countries where pot laced products are legal.  While recreational cannabis is legal in Canada, bringing it into the country is not. The same is true of medical marijuana.  The U.S. federal government prohibits transporting it across the border.  In contrast, Canadian law allows travelers to carry up to 30 gm of marijuana or 100 ml of cannabis oil on domestic flights within the country.  However, Canadian law prohibits passengers from carrying any marijuana products on flights that leave the borders of Canada.  That prohibition applies even if the traveler’s destination is another country where cannabis is legal.

Though cannabis is legal in some countries, bringing it into the country usually isn’t.  Many countries still have laws against both medical and recreational marijuana.  In the United Kingdom, pot is illegal.  A 50-year old Irish woman traveled to Canada to purchase marijuana to treat her son who suffers with epilepsy.  The British authorities confiscated the entire six month’s supply she had purchased at great expense in Toronto.  If you plan to take the risk, consider where you are going.  In some countries, your only risk is losing your stash.  In others, you are risking your life or serious jail time.  Japan has a zero-tolerance policy for cannabis products.  Bringing any amount into Japan can net you five years in prison.  In the United Arab Emirates, you risk a sentence of four years in prison.  In the UK, the maximum sentence is 15 years.  If you are flying to Iran, Saudi Arabia or Taiwan, traveling with marijuana is considered drug smuggling and punishable by the death penalty.

Traveling By Car, Truck or Motorhome

Vanderbilt Law School Professor, Robert Miko, is considered an expert on U.S. drug enforcement law.  In his opinion, driving from state to state in the U.S. with personal quantities of marijuana products is relatively safe.  If you follow the traffic laws, keep the quantities small, and if cannabis is legal in your destination state, you are probably okay.  Of course, all bets are off if you have outstanding warrants or are driving under the influence.  One place to be especially careful is National Parks.  National Parks are under federal jurisdiction, so it is unwise to use pot in the park or in National Park campgrounds.

The basic thing to remember is to use common sense when traveling.  Know if pot is legal in your destination state.  If you choose to travel with marijuana, keep the amounts small.  If you have a medical marijuana card, be sure to take it with you. If you are leaving the country, leave your pot at home. A little caution can keep you safe and out of jail.

Resources

www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/medical-marijuana

www.airsafe.com/issues/cannabis.htm

www.alternativeairlines.com/flying-with-cannabis

www.disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state

www.budgettravel.com/article/traveling-legal-marijuana

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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