It is no longer news that people can legally use marijuana in many states in the United States today. However, the stance of the federal government on the use of the plant has not changed from what it was before.
Things can, therefore, easily become confusing when consumers travel from one jurisdiction to another. Some daring users may nurse the thought of trying to sneak weed through airport security, but that could be risky. Therefore, we present here useful information that could guide you when thinking of traveling with marijuana.
Varying Laws across Jurisdictions
In the U.S., the federal government has banned the use of cannabis for more than eight decades – since 1937. The drug is still a Schedule I substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Federal law enforcement officers can arrest you if found in possession of marijuana.
There is no such finality when it comes to marijuana possession in other states. There are some states where the substance is legal for adult uses or recreational purposes. Other states allow legal use on medical grounds, while some others have simply decriminalized possession of small amounts.
The TSA’s Position
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, currently doesn’t go all out looking for people traveling with marijuana.
In keeping with federal law, the administration actually deems possession of cannabis illegal. Its agents simply do not go around searching for it on travelers. The agency announced some months ago that it did not consider such searches a priority.
However, this does not mean you will get off scot-free in the event you are found with marijuana during security screening. The TSA stated that possession will be treated in the same way as that of other illegal substances. Its agents will hand you over to a law enforcement officer.
According to the agency, the response to marijuana discovery remains the same. It does not matter whether it is legal in your home state or destination state.
The TSA has, however, updated its standpoint on medical marijuana. It will only regard products as illegal if they contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels higher than 0.3 percent. Medications and cannabidiol (CBD) products with lower levels are permissible.
What Happens If You are Found in Possession of Marijuana?
In states where marijuana use is legal, consumers must use marijuana bought in the same state. Legality may no longer hold if products are taken to another state for use. Also, amounts higher than established thresholds may render possession or use illegal.
Punitive actions that can follow for possession of marijuana will depend on where you are found out. The TSA says its agents will hand offenders over to local law enforcement authorities for prosecution.
An adult found in possession of marijuana within set limits in states where it is legal may pay a fine. Local law enforcement in such places could even let them go without any punitive action against them.
The story is different where marijuana is not legal, however. Affected travelers stand at risk of a misdemeanor or felony charge.
The complexity of laws regarding legal marijuana use makes it critical to be cautious when traveling with the drug. It does not matter whether you are traveling by land, air, or water. Some transportation companies do not allow it onboard at all, even in states where it is legal.
For instance, you are not completely safe from possible prosecution if you are traveling between states that allow legal use. You could find yourself in federal areas, including parks, when traveling in a car from one state to the other. If accosted by federal drug agents in such places, you may be guilty of illegal drug possession.
When aboard a plane, you are considered to be in federal jurisdiction.
It is critical to choose carefully when traveling with marijuana. You will need to ensure that the THC content of such isn’t greater than 0.3 percent.