Traveling with Cannabis in the U.S.: Is It Possible?
Cannabis is illegal under federal law, being a part of Schedule I list on the Controlled Substances Act. The law also prohibits the transportation of any federally restricted substance across state lines.
But what about legal states? Can I transport between Oregon and Washington, or California and Nevada?
According to Leafly’s interview with Alison Malsbury, a Canna Law Group attorney, from a legal perspective ‘it is very cut and dried,’ but the reality is ambiguous. The risks, in theory, are higher than in practice. Crossing the state lines, you fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government. ‘Even if cannabis is legal in both states, it is that crossing of the border that puts you at risk,’ Malsbury claims.
But in practice, ‘the chances of feds or the DEA sitting at the border waiting to catch someone — that’s just not happening,’ she says. ‘It’s not practical or worth their time.’ More likely, if you end up facing charges in the state where cannabis is illegal, taking cannabis across the border is considered an aggravating factor. What you want to keep in mind is that if you simply enter the border crossing zone between countries with cannabis, it may get you in trouble.
What Does The Law Say?
Section 812 of Title 21 of the U.S. Code, the Schedule of Controlled Substances makes no distinction between a legal state, a medical state, or an illegal state. Violating it is a federal crime and brings a drug trafficking charge. Here’s what it covers.
- 1 kg or less of hash oil,
- 10 kg or less of hashish,
- Up to 49 cannabis plants,
- Less than 50 kg of cannabis flower.
Is punished as:
- 1st offense: up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 to $1 million,
- 2nd offense: up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000 to $2 million.
You may possess virtually any amount of weed — the penalty remains the same.
What’s The Law In The Legal States?
Some states carry penalties for the import of cannabis. Oregon, for example, passed House Bill 4015, which forbids the import of cannabis from another state, as well as exporting cannabis across state lines. Violating the law leads to:
- For up to an ounce of cannabis — $260 fine (a Class B violation);
- For over an ounce of cannabis — $6,250 fine (a Class A misdemeanor);
- For over 16 ounces of cannabis — $125 000 fine and up to 5 years imprisonment (a Class C felony).
In Nevada, NRS 453.321 prohibits to ‘import, transport, sell, exchange, barter, supply, prescribe, dispense, give away or administer a controlled or counterfeit substance.’ The violation is punishable by $10,000 fine and 2 to 10 years in prison.
Californian Prop 64 says:
26080. (a) This division shall not be construed to authorize or permit a licensee to transport or distribute, or cause to be transported or distributed, marijuana or marijuana products outside the state, unless authorized by federal law.
In a current political environment, nobody expects the situation to change. So next time you think of traveling around the U.S., think twice — and probably not cross the borders with cannabis in your bag.