What You Need to Know About Traveling with Cannabis

Increased cannabis legalization has raised a lot of questions. One question many people may be asking themselves is, what are the rules regarding traveling with cannabis? This article will tell you everything you need to know.

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What are the Rules on Traveling with Cannabis?

Flying with Cannabis

Although cannabis is legal in many states, it is still illegal on a federal level. Therefore, U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not allow travelers to enter or leave the country with marijuana.

“As some states have decriminalized the use and possession of marijuana, it is important that members of the traveling public clearly understand that federal law still prohibits the importation of any amount of this drug,” said Hector Mancha, CBO El Paso Director of Field Operations. “Do not cross the border with any amount of marijuana at all.”

However, travelers flying domestically may take marijuana to states where pot is legal as long as the product contains .3% THC or less.

“TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers,” the TSA said in a statement. “Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during a security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”

If you are found traveling with cannabis, police action will vary according to local laws. Some airports, like Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, provide passengers with cannabis amnesty boxes that they can use to dispose of weed before going through security checkpoints.

Others, like Los Angeles International Airport, allow officers to arrest individuals who are defying state laws. However, they are unable to arrest travelers complying with state laws.

What About Medical Marijuana?

Passengers with medical marijuana cards are still subject to local cannabis laws. They may travel to legal states with products that contain .3% THC or less. International travel with medical marijuana is illegal.

What About Cannabis-Infused Products?

Laws on traveling with cannabis hit a gray area with cannabis-infused products like oils, edibles, and hash. Generally, they are federally illegal, but some products are not as straightforward. For example, CBD oil has been legal since 2018, but it is still not approved for air travel.

Traveling with cannabis accessories like vape pens, bowls, and pipes is permitted. However, vape pens will only be allowed if the lithium batteries are under 100 watts. You are also not permitted to travel with a vape pen that contains THC cartridges.

TSA officers are not trained to differentiate between different cannabis products. So if they see something suspicious, like a bong, or a product containing THC, even under .3%, they may confiscate it and take other legal action.

What Happens if the TSA Finds Cannabis in My Luggage?

If the TSA finds cannabis in your luggage, that contains more than .3% THC, they will confiscate it. They may even confiscate products with THC within legal limits. They may pursue additional illegal action depending on local laws.

Driving with Cannabis

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You may think that driving is a safer bet for traveling with cannabis. But there are several laws to be aware of if you choose this option.

Driving Across Borders

It is illegal to take marijuana into another country regardless of whether you are flying or driving. If you pass a border patrol and they search your car and find any type of marijuana product, you can be arrested. This law will stand despite the amount of THC the product contains and whether you are the holder of a medical marijuana card.

Driving Within States

You are permitted to drive with marijuana in your car in legal states. However, the marijuana must be in a sealed package or container or the trunk of the vehicle.

You must also follow guidelines for possession in the state. Most states have laws regarding how much marijuana a person can possess. If the marijuana in your car exceeds those guidelines, you may be fined.

Driving while Intoxicated

There is some debate regarding whether marijuana impairs driving. However, if you are driving under the influence, it is considered a DUI.

Currently, there are gray areas surrounding marijuana detection while driving. Law enforcement is unclear on what tests to use. There are also questions regarding how long the drug has been in your system in terms of what constitutes a DUI.

Currently, blood tests are most used to determine marijuana DUI driving. In many states, any amount of THC detected while traveling with cannabis could constitute a DUI charge. Urine and saliva tests may also be used, but they do not carry a high level of certainty and may not be admissible in court.

Officers will also use other evidence to constitute a DUI such as:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • The smell of marijuana
  • Red eyes
  • Dilated pupils

Law enforcement may also request that the driver take a field sobriety test (FST). If the driver fails the test, it may result in a DUI charge.

Can You Take Marijuana on a Boat?

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Traveling with cannabis laws also pertain to boating. Any waters that the federal government considers navigable are under federal jurisdiction. As a result, it is illegal to possess weed on most waterways. This includes the coastal waters of legalized states like Oregon, California, and Washington.

Boating under the influence (BUI) laws also pertain to boating while high on cannabis.

Can You Take Marijuana on Public Transportation?

Amtrak and Greyhound prohibit passengers from traveling with cannabis. However, laws vary from company to company. Check the company rules or talk to a customer representative before attempting to bring cannabis with you on a bus or train.

Now you know the laws on traveling with cannabis. How will they impact your next trip?

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