Many states have now legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational use. Some experts have speculated that this is a change that will eventually come to all states.
But what does the law say about marijuana when you travel? Say you have family in Michigan, where recreational marijuana is legal. You buy some while you’re there and then drive back to New York, where you live — and where recreational use was also recently legalized. That has to be fine, right?
Well, no. Let’s look at the issues involved.
Crossing state lines makes a difference
The problem is that doing traveling from one state to another with marijuana — even when it was legally purchased and legal in both states — means you have crossed state lines. Doing so with marijuana in your possession is still illegal under federal law — which is where jurisdiction falls when you’re involved in travel between the states.
Even though you start and end in a state with legalized marijuana use, you could still technically face charges if you’re caught crossing those state lines or driving through a state where marijuana is illegal. Where you bought the drug doesn’t matter if you get arrested in a state that hasn’t legalized it yet.
You may think that the easiest way to get around this is to fly, keeping you from driving through those states at all. The problem is that flying with recreational marijuana is also illegal under federal law. Once again, it doesn’t matter that you bought it legally or that you’re heading to a state where it is also legal.
Are you facing drug charges?
You can see how changing drug laws can lead to mistakes and oversights, and those could lead to an arrest even if you never intended to break the law. You could still wind up facing charges. Be sure you know what legal options you have for a successful defense.