A lot of states now allow its residents to use marijuana either recreationally or for medicinal purposes. For states where it’s only legal for medicinal purposes, you may have to prove that you’re allowed to carry it. One way to do this is to carry your medical marijuana card. You can also carry paperwork from your doctor proving you have the legal prescription.

If you’re travelling in a state where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes, you can have a legal amount of weed on you at any time. As long as you’re within the state’s limits, there’s no reason you should get in trouble. That is, unless you have an illegal amount on you or a strain that is deemed illegal.

The same is true for medicinal states. As long as you’re within the state limits, and have your card on you, there shouldn’t be a problem. However, once you cross the state border, it’s a different story.

What Happens if you Travel to a Non-Legal State with Marijuana?

If you’re caught with marijuana in a state where It’s not legal, you could be charged with possession. Just because it’s legal in your home state, doesn’t mean it’s legal in other states. You can’t expect to travel with marijuana into a state where it’s illegal.

If you’re in a state where marijuana is illegal, you’ll be treated just like any citizen of that state. You’ll be expected to follow the rules and laws of that state. If you’re caught with marijuana in your car or on your person, expected to be charged with simple possession.

Not only will you be charged with the offense, but if you’re required to appear in court, you’ll have to travel back to that state. Imagine if you live in California and have to travel to South Carolina for court. Simple possession can be much more than a simple inconvenience.

Why Doesn’t My Medical Marijuana Card Protect Me in Other States?

There’s been a lot of debate about whether marijuana should be legal. The states that have chosen not to legalize it have done so for a reason. Even if you don’t agree with these reasons, you’re bound to follow their laws while traveling there.

If you get pulled over in Nebraska and the cops find marijuana in your car, you will be charged with possession. They aren’t going to want to hear that it’s legal to smoke in your state. They don’t care that you can smoke as much weed as you want in California.

A lot of people use the following excuse: “I didn’t even realize it was still in my car/purse/wallet”. This excuse won’t work. As a grown adult, you’re expected to be responsible about something as important as legal drugs. If you try to use this excuse with an officer, expect it to be shot down pretty quickly.

What if I’m Going on Vacation? Can I Take my Marijuana with Me?

For people who are prescribed marijuana, it makes sense to ask this question. If you use it for pain relief of anxiety reduction, you may need it while traveling on vacation. It’s not unreasonable to expect this.

The problem is that it’s not this easy. Just because you use it for medicinal purposes doesn’t mean you can carry your marijuana with you. If you take the risk to bring your stash with you on vacation, you could face the following consequences:

  • You could be required to turn your marijuana over to travel authorities
  • You could face local criminal charges
  • You could be sent to jail depending on the amount and the state you’re in
  • You may face federal consequences

Even though we’ve been talking about traveling from state to state, there is actually a bigger problem. Although some states have legalized marijuana, the federal government has not. So, if you’re traveling by bus, train or plane, you can expect to be held to federal standards.

The federal law trumps state law. So, no matter what the law is in the state you’re traveling to, you could be subject to federal law. This could mean you end up facing federal criminal charges.

What Should You Do if You’re Charged with Marijuana Possession Out of State?

If you do get charged with drug possession out-of-state, you’re going to want to call a criminal defense lawyer. Of course, you’ll want to retain a lawyer in the state where you are charged. Your local lawyer can’t represent you in another state.

This means you may have to travel back to the state for a court appearance. However, your lawyer should be able to work out a plea deal with the prosecutor. He may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed all together.
About the author

Liz S. Coyle is the Director of Client Services for JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law. She also serves as a paralegal for the Family Law Department. She is responsible for internal and external communications for the firm.