Crossing State Lines With Marijuana

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 17, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

On Election Day, residents of four more states elected to legalize recreational marijuana. Three other states approved medical marijuana. That leaves the country with a hodgepodge of pot laws, and leaves many wondering how travel between weed-friendly states and not-so-weed-friendly states will be regulated. (Keep in mind that marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law.)

So what do you need to know about driving with marijuana across state lines? Here's a primer:

Intrastate Marijuana Transportation

First and foremost, state law -- even in states that legalize recreational marijuana use and possession -- will govern transportation of weed within the state. So if marijuana is illegal in a certain state, obviously transportation of marijuana within that state will also be illegal. And in states that have legalized marijuana, statutes will govern how much marijuana, and in what form, a person can possess or transport, and that may vary depending on whether the person is a business or an individual. So your first stop when checking on the transportation of marijuana should be your state's marijuana laws.

Enforcement of those laws could also depend on whether the state has legalized marijuana or just decriminalized it. In states where marijuana is legal, a person can legally possess pot as long as they are complying with the rules regarding possession like minimum age requirements and maximum amount limits. In states where marijuana is decriminalized, a person might be cited for pot possession and still be subject to a small fine, but not further prosecution.

Interstate Marijuana Transportation

As we noted above, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. And the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution states that if there is ever a conflict, federal laws trump state laws. So driving across state lines with marijuana could lead to a federal drug trafficking charge, depending on how much you have in your possession. Thus far, the federal government has left the bulk of marijuana prosecutions to the states, but that isn't always guaranteed.

And even if you purchased your marijuana in a legal recreational state, like Colorado for example, and drove to a no-legalized neighboring state, say, Kansas, you could also be charged under that state's drug trafficking or drug possession laws. If you have questions about the specifics of your state's marijuana statutes, consult an experienced drug crimes attorney near you.

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