What You Need To Know about Traveling with Cannabis

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Apr 06

Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

What You Need To Know about Traveling with Cannabis

by Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

What You Need To Know about Traveling with Cannabis

Although possessing and consuming cannabis is no longer illegal in Washington state, cannabis users who travel with their favorite strain or edible could still land in trouble.

The precise risks of traveling with cannabis vary by mode of transportation and destination. Here are a couple examples of how the law relates to traveling with marijuana.

A Weekend Trip to Portland (by car)

Since personal recreational cannabis use is legal in Oregon, the legal risks involved with taking your favorite cannabis candies from Seattle on a weekend trip to Portland are negligible, but not zero.

The first thing you need to consider is that crossing state lines with cannabis is still a federal crime. Of course, being stopped in the center of the Columbia river is highly unlikely unless you are driving dangerously.

The second, more serious risk is also something you need to be aware of whenever you’re driving with cannabis in your vehicle. It goes without saying that you can’t drive while under the influence, but open container laws also apply to cannabis. Make sure the cannabis is either in the sealed dispensary container or in an inaccessible location in your car, such as the trunk or glove box.

A Weekend Drive to Vancouver Island

You’re still taking a drive, but this time you’ll be crossing international—not state—boundaries. If you’re caught with cannabis by either the Canadian or American border control, you will likely be arrested and face heavy fines, imprisonment or both.

Note that it doesn’t matter to the border control authorities whether or not you have a medical marijuana card. All cannabis is considered a controlled substance.

Flying to Spokane

Legally, flying with cannabis is different from driving with cannabis. Even if you won’t be leaving the state, you’ll be breaking the law.

All secure areas of the airport are considered “areas under federal control.” This includes any parts of the airport that are past the TSA screening and on board the actual airliner.

Taking cannabis with you on a flight—regardless of your destination—is illegal. This is true for items in both in your carry-on and checked luggage. Again, because federal law makes no distinction between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, having a medical marijuana card is irrelevant.

Here is the caveat, though. The TSA is not a drug enforcement agency and TSA agents are looking for bombs, not drugs. If a TSA agent finds cannabis on a passenger, he or she is allowed to use his or her discretion about whether or not to allow the cannabis—and the passenger—through.

If a TSA agent suspects something is cannabis, he or she will refer the matter to law enforcement officers. In most cases, that means local or state authorities. At the very least, your cannabis will likely be confiscated.

The bottom line about traveling with cannabis: It’s legally risky. It’s best to enjoy your cannabis at home. If you’re traveling to another state (or country) where recreational marijuana use is legal, use your vacation to sample some of the local offerings. And if cannabis is not legal at your destination, you’re best off abstaining until you’re back home.

Did you run into trouble driving or flying with cannabis? Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws.

The expert defense team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC vigorously defend the rights of individuals facing a multitude of charges in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!

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