Can You Travel With Weed Between Legal States?


There are now eight states where adult possession and use of personal amounts of marijuana are legal. Four of those states share borders – all the way from Blaine, Washington, at the Canadian border down to San Ysidro, California, at the Mexican border. You can drive 1,380 miles down Interstate 5 and the ounce of weed in your pocket is perfectly legal.

Except when you’re crossing the state line.

Despite all four of these states having identical personal possession laws allowing adults to carry one ounce of marijuana with them in public, it is against state and federal law to transport that marijuana across the state line.

Federal law recognizes no legality in marijuana. While the feds can’t force a state to punish you for possessing marijuana, technically a federal agent from the DEA, a ranger from the Bureau of Land Management at a National Park or other federal land, military police on any military base, or a US Marshal or an officer of the court in a federal building could arrest you for possession. That’s a misdemeanor that can earn you up to a year in jail (and 15 days mandatory if it’s a second offense) and a $1,000 fine. Transporting marijuana across state lines or possession of a single cannabis plant could set you up for a sale or distribution felony worth 5 years in prison and a quarter-million-dollar fine.

Washington has made it clear that exporting marijuana is against the law. I-502 contains penalties for commercial licensees that transport marijuana across state lines, but is mute on the transportation of marijuana by non-commercial entities. Presumably, since I-502 only authorizes commercial distribution of marijuana “within the state”,

On October 21, 2013, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board issued an explanatory statement regarding their implementation of permanent rules for I-502.

Two comments were received regarding importing and exporting of marijuana. One person asked that importing of marijuana and marijuana seeds be allowed. One person asked that marijuana licensees be allowed to export marijuana and marijuana infused products to other states that have legalized marijuana.

LCB response: The law does not allow import or export of marijuana or marijuana infused products.

Oregon passed a law (HB 4014) expressly forbidding the import and export of marijuana across state lines. If you’re caught crossing the Oregon border with under an ounce, you get a $260 fine; over an ounce gets you a Class A misdemeanor, and over a pound or any amount for sale gets you a Class C felony.

475B.185. (1) A person may not import marijuana items into this state or export marijuana items from this state.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (3) of this section, a violation of this section is a Class B violation.

(3) A violation of this section is a:

(a) Class C felony, if the importation or exportation: (A) Is for consideration and the person holds a license under ORS 475B.070, 475B.090, 475B.100 or 475B.110; or (B) Concerns usable marijuana and the importation or exportation exceeds 16 ounces of usable marijuana.

(b) Class A misdemeanor, if the importation or exportation: (A) Is not for consideration and the person holds a license under ORS 475B.070, 475B.090, 475B.100 or 475B.110; or (B) Concerns usable marijuana and the importation or exportation exceeds one ounce of usable marijuana.

California reiterated the illegality of transferring marijuana out of state in its Prop 64.

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.

Nevada law makes it clear that importation and transport (export) of marijuana is expressly illegal.

NRS 453.321 Offer, attempt or commission of unauthorized act relating to controlled or counterfeit substance unlawful; penalties; prohibition against probation or suspension of sentence for certain repeat offenders.

1.  Except as authorized by the provisions of NRS 453.011 to 453.552, inclusive, it is unlawful for a person to:

(a) Import, transport, sell, exchange, barter, supply, prescribe, dispense, give away or administer a controlled or counterfeit substance;

While all four of these contiguous legal marijuana states ban marijuana crossing their borders, realistically it is impossible for them to enforce this law adequately. Oregon and California allow all adults to cultivate their own marijuana, while Nevada only allows cultivation for those living farther than 25 miles from a retail shop. Washington bans all home cultivation. However, the laws in all these states allow the possession of marijuana, period; the law says nothing about the marijuana has to be “store-bought” in Washington State.

Therefore, you’d think that if you took the marijuana out of the store package and put it in your own container, it would be impossible for authorities in these four states to determine that you aren’t just in possession of marijuana legally gifted to you by another adult within that state.

It’s time for Congress to take a look at this issue and pass a law allowing for a free marijuana trade zone within the four contiguous legal states before some unfortunate cannabis consumer becomes the test case for traveling with legal weed from one legal state into another.

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