Friday, May 24, 2024

Everything You Need To Know About Traveling With Marijuana

The Fourth of July weekend is upon us and for most Americans, it’s likely you will hit the road. According to AAA, a record-breaking 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more. Roughly 85 percent of the roadtrippers will make their trip by car.

Not only is this holiday one of the busiest for road travel, it is the also one of the most dangerous. More people die in motor vehicle crashes on July 4 than any other day of the year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A study by the  IIHS found that  an average 118.4 people die in crashes on the nation’s birthday, 28 more fatalities than an average day.

One of the biggest factors in the fatality rates is alcohol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association estimated that 40 percent of all highway deaths between 2007 and 2011 were caused by drunk driving over the Fourth of July holiday.

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With those sobering statistics staring you in the face, let’s discuss the matter of traveling with marijuana. How should you do it? Should you do it? Here’s what you need to know:

Rule For The Road

For the vast majority of you, this will be your mode of transportation over the holiday weekend. In most legal marijuana states, it is permissible to travel with up to one ounce of cannabis. But most states require the cannabis to be stored in a sealed container and inaccessible to the driver. So, basically, pack less than an ounce, put it in a sealed jar and place it in your trunk. An open baggie the passenger seat is not the wisest course of action.

Be careful in states bordering legal states. Patrol officers in Idaho, which borders both Washington and Oregon, are known to pull over out-of-state vehicles. Same with Nebraska, which borders Colorado.

If you are traveling from one legal state to the next (California to Oregon, for example), chances are you will be OK as long as you are not over the legal possession limit.

As for driving while impaired, please don’t. Booze accounts for 4 out of every 10 highway fatalities this holiday. Don’t make it worse by driving if you feel impaired. It’s just not worth it.

The Friendly Skies

If you are flying to your destination, keep in mind that policies — both official and unofficial — vary wildly depending on the state. But keep this in mind: Air travel is federally regulated by the FAA and the agency is crystal clear that cannabis is not permitted on board any aircraft.

So the best advice is to leave it at home. Seriously. It’s the safest way to avoid a crappy weekend. But if you are a chronic rule breaker, there are a few things to know.

The TSA is focused on catching passengers with explosives or weapons. The TSA security officers are not in the business of looking for weed. According to TSA:

TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.

Whether or not marijuana is considered legal under local law is not relevant to TSA screening because TSA is governed by federal law. Federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana.

So if you get caught trying to bring cannabis with you on your flight, you won’t deal with the federal government, you will deal with local authorities. If you live in states that have a strict marijuana laws (you know, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, etc.) expect a hassle and probable arrest.

Some airports, such as LAX, are more, well, lax. The L.A. police officers assigned duty at LAX follow state laws, meaning it is legal for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

At Denver International Airport, it is illegal to possess marijuana on airport property, even though Colorado is a legal state. If you get nabbed with nugs, you will be kindly asked to place your weed in one of the “amnesty boxes” before getting on the plane.

If you insist on flying with cannabis, just be careful. Use common sense. Bring a small amount. But if you are risk averse or paranoid, just leave it at home.


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