Marijuana Law and the Complications for Interstate Travelers

Disparate state marijuana laws can make it difficult to know when and where you may be charged with a crime. Penalties for various charges can also vary widely. Unfortunately, for travelers throughout the U.S. the checkerboard of legal versus non-legal marijuana states make predictability and prevention of an arrest or criminal charge complicated. In the event of a criminal conviction, defendants can still face significant penalties, including years or even decades in prison. For immigrants, the consequences could be more devastating, including deportation.


Taking the U.S. interstate and carrying marijuana can be a huge risk, given the varying degrees of legality, enforcement and penalties by state. Our Orange County marijuana law attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. In addition to providing strategic criminal defense, we also help marijuana distributors and other proprietors protect their rights and ensure compliance with California marijuana law. Our attorneys are abreast of the evolving marijuana market and the trends in marijuana law that could prevent charges or expose users and distributors to liability.

Even when a marijuana card holder can carry and possess the product in a home state, bringing the product, even with a card, can be dangerous and result in criminal liability. According to a Bloomberg report, a California marijuana card holder was pulled over in Oklahoma. After presenting his marijuana card and admitting to carrying marijuana, he was charged with felony possession and could face decades in prison. Even though the possession of recreational use marijuana is legal in Washington and Colorado, and medicinal marijuana is legal in 23 states, half the country still criminalizes marijuana use, possession and distribution.

For motorists who need to use the interstate, marijuana laws can be complicated and leave drivers vulnerable to liability. Many of these challenges may result in a U.S. Supreme Court case, but the current legal system leaves any traveler crossing state lines exposed to criminal liability. States like Idaho are surrounded by Washington, Oregon and Montana where pot is decriminalized. According to reports, Idaho authorities seized three times more pot this year than in 2011. While national advocates work towards a more comprehensive reform, individual travelers should be wary of the risks they take on when crossing stateliness.

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, 14% of Americans use marijuana. It is the third most popular recreational drug, just behind cigarettes and marijuana. While the majority of Americans do believe that cannabis should be legal, many states are reluctant to pass new marijuana laws, especially given the federal prohibition and classification of the drug. Thought the Justice Department has advised federal prosecutors against pursuing low-level marijuana crimes, it does require that states impose a clear, “strong and effective” regulatory system for controlling the use of marijuana.

Even though the majority of Americans believe in legalization for medical use and an increasing number believe in legalization for recreational use, conflict remains for those traveling across state lines. In states where marijuana card holders have been arrested and charged, many locals are already urging for legalization. Despite hopes for legalization, many defendants will be charged, convicted and sentenced before legislative changes take place.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

More Blog Entries:
D.C. Decriminalizes Marijuana, Federal Land Raises Legal Complications, July 16, 2014 Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
United States Marijuana Laws Influencing Other Countries
, February 14, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog

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