Now that weed is legal in New Mexico and the adult-use market is chugging along, it can be easy to forget that in other parts of the country, marijuana is treated like a serious drug and getting caught with it in your possession can lead to fines or even jail time. Read our following handy dandy cannabis travel guide before you venture out on a summer trip with cannabis in your pocket.
Can You Cross State Lines With Weed?
The short answer is “no.”
While federal authorities have opted to leave alone the states that have legalized cannabis to go about their business, federal jurisdiction still covers interstate commerce and bringing cannabis across state lines is federally illegal.
Penalties for trafficking cannabis across state lines depends on the amount brought across. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) a person caught transporting less than 50 kilograms (50,000 grams) of cannabis will receive a sentence of no less than five years in prison and a fine of no more than $250,000 for their first offense.
Nevertheless, millions of people manage to travel with the contraband every year without suffering any consequences. That’s because local police and security agents are starting to deprioritize busting cannabis users in lieu of chasing more dangerous criminals.
Flying commercial airlines with cannabis is a total no-go that could land you in trouble with the local authorities. That being said, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has repeatedly said that it isn’t looking to bust cannabis offenders.
According to the agency’s website, “TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
In other words, TSA agents aren’t necessarily looking for drugs, but if they come across them, they will likely notify local police.
Some airports now sport amnesty boxes where passengers can safely deposit any cannabis that they may have on them when they enter the airport without fear of legal ramifications.
Traveling with cannabis is much easier by car than by plane, but transporting the drug across state lines is still a federal offense. That even goes for those traveling between states that have legalized marijuana for adult use. Driving from New Mexico to Colorado with marijuana is federally illegal and counts as a felony—even though both states have legalized the drug.
And even if the federal ban on interstate transportation weren’t in place, local laws regarding transport and possession of cannabis may differ, leading to some possibly unforeseen consequences. For instance, in Colorado it’s illegal to possess more than two ounces of cannabis flower at a time. But if a driver is found with an unsealed package of a cannabis product, then they can be charged with a traffic offense. Containers are also to be clearly marked with labels from state-approved dispensaries only—meaning any product from another state is strictly prohibited.
So do the smart thing and leave that weed at home. It should still be there when you get back.