The High Times Guide to Traveling With Pot
As the number of states authorizing the use of cannabis for medical and recreational use increases—at last count, 33 states and the District of Columbia have authorized the use of medical marijuana, and 10 of those states have also authorized recreational or adult-use marijuana—a major question arises: What are the legal restrictions around traveling with cannabis? Despite the increasing legalization of marijuana use at the state level, it remains a federally illegal, Schedule I–controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Because of this conflict that currently exists between federal and state laws, individuals need to understand how, when and where they can travel with state-authorized cannabis.
The considerations and risks of traveling with authorized cannabis depend on both the destination and the mode of transportation.
Destination is the first thing to consider when traveling with authorized cannabis. It is important to understand the laws of the state where the individual will be traveling, whether simply passing through or as the final destination. The simple fact remains that, because of its federally illegal status, authorized cannabis cannot be transported across state lines. This is true even if the destination state has a similar marijuana program as the departure state (e.g., California and Nevada, which have both authorized medical and recreational marijuana). Despite the similarity between the laws of the departure and destination states, crossing a state line with cannabis can lead to myriad legal problems. Interstate travel falls under federal law, and thus transporting authorized cannabis across state lines is still considered a federal offense, regardless of the laws of departure and destination states. The federal government can charge an individual with drug trafficking if authorized cannabis is transported across state lines.