TRAVELING WITH CANNABIS: DOS AND DON’TS
Now that the west coast is also the green coast, there’s a whole wide world of legal cannabis products just waiting to be sampled. But once you’ve picked out your prize, what’s the best way to transport weed to your destination? Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, on vacation or just heading to a friend’s house after a trip to the dispensary, here are the dos and don’ts when you’re traveling with weed.
THE DOS OF TRAVELING WITH MARIJUANA
1. DO: Follow state possession limits. In California, adults can legally possess or carry as much as 1 ounce (28.3 g) of flower or eight (8) grams of concentrate, like oil, hash or dabs. For most people this won’t be an issue, but if you’re a fan of buying in bulk (and you properly store your weed) or are in charge of getting the bud for a friend’s bachelor weekend, carrying any more than the limit opens you up to a misdemeanor, fine and possibly jail time.
2. DO: Follow open container laws when in a vehicle. In California, driving with weed in your car is okay as long as it's in an unopened package, but any cannabis product that’s open or unsealed should be stored securely in your trunk, like you would with an uncorked bottle of wine. A locked glove compartment or other “secure place” may also be acceptable if you do not have a trunk. Either way, if you are taking a road trip with weed, make sure your stash jar is not easily accessible to you and your passengers.
This Do pertains mainly to private vehicles; Limos and other chartered transport are fair game, assuming the business is okay with it. Uber and Lyft are more of a gray area: a driver can allow smoking in their car, but they can also get in trouble if another passenger later complains about the smell.
3. DO: Book a stay at a 420 friendly hotel. California has limits on where you can smoke in public, so pick a place that’s welcoming to cannabis smokers. If you’re traveling for business and corporate won’t go for that charge on your card, consider switching to non-flower options - and there are so, so many ways to smoke without smoking.
4. DO: Use common courtesy and common sense. Be aware of your surroundings. Smoking anywhere near families or children is not cool. Smoking with underage people is not cool (and illegal). Selling extra cannabis products to anyone in California without a retail license is not cool (and illegal x2). When in doubt, be discreet - consider edibles, oils or tinctures rather than flower.
5. DO: Know your rights. You just smoked a House Doobie and the munchies have hit. If you’re walking down the street, a cop can stop you based on the odor, but cannot use that odor to justify a search of your person and possessions. If a cop asks you if they can search you, say no. That said, if you have bowl out or you’re holding a joint in your hand, all bets are off, as those are indicators that you are totally breaking the law and smoking weed in public.
However, the smell of weed in your car is still a big no-no and can still be used as probable cause to conduct a search. Once you’ve been pulled over with probable cause, a cop can search anything in plain view in your vehicle - but they cannot search your car’s trunk without your consent (which is where your cannabis should be anyway, as it's the safest place for weed in your car). We hope things don’t progress that far with law enforcement, but if all else fails, remember these four phrases:
- “Am I free to leave?”
- “I do not consent to searches.”
- “I want an attorney.”
- “I’m invoking my right to remain silent.”
THE DON'TS OF TRAVELING WITH MARIJUANA
1. DON’T: Smoke in your car while you’re driving or drive right after smoking. That’s an open container violation and a DUI, same as driving while drinking a beer or getting loaded and getting behind the wheel. DON’T DO IT. It's 2018; if your urge to hotbox is just too great, take a cannabis bus tour instead.
2. DON’T: Cross state lines with cannabis, even from one legal state to another. Yeah, it’s legal all up the coast and in Nevada and Colorado, but the second you cross a state line, you’ve broken federal law, and in some cases, at least one state law. Federal drug trafficking charges are a pretty quick route to "ruined vacation." Until marijuana is federally legal, think of each state as its own little weed fiefdom.
3. DON’T: Fly commercially with weed, even within the same state. Airports fall under the jurisdiction of the feds and the TSA. If they find your stash, they’ll call the cops - and even if the cops let you fly with it, do you have that time to spare before you get to your gate? And if you have TSA Pre-Check, you risk losing your status (even just for working in the industry).
The good news is that if you forget about that marijuana pen or package of cookies in your carry on, you’ll probably be okay. Those dogs are bomb sniffers, not bomb weed sniffers. The TSA is looking for actual security threats, not your souvenirs.
4. DON’T: Go anywhere near national parks and other federal sites. If a ranger catches you with cannabis, they have jurisdiction and the right to confiscate your bud, at the very least. Stick to California's state parks and beaches, where Governor Jerry Brown says we can all toke.
5. DON’T: Try to avoid all of this by mailing weed. Maybe you’re thinking, “Traveling with marijuana doesn’t seem worth the hassle. I’ll send it along ahead!” Nope. The Post Office is a federal agency. And shipping anything back home to a state where cannabis is illegal opens you up to even more legal issues, like possession and intent to distribute. Just follow our dos and don’ts and you will be fine. Safe travels!