Cannabis is legal in a growing number of states across the USA. Depending on the state, cannabis may be legal for either recreational or medical purposes. In some regions, while cannabis remains illegal, police seldom make arrests for cannabis use. However, while the laws about cannabis are changing on a local level, possessing cannabis is still a federal crime.
So, what happens when you already have cannabis, and you want to bring it with you on a trip? Can you transport cannabis across state lines? The short answer is no. Bringing cannabis from one state to another is a federal crime which could carry serious penalties. If you’re confused about this issue, don’t worry — this article will explain how the law works, and how it’s enforced.
Why Is Transporting Cannabis Over State Lines Illegal?
The US Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce. That clause in the Constitution has given rise to all sorts of interpretations. At its heart, though, is the idea that the federal government has jurisdiction over any legal issues that involve crossing state lines.
As long as you are within the borders of any given state, you will be subject to the laws of that state. If cannabis is legal in the state you’re in, then you may possess cannabis. However, once you cross state lines, you are subject to federal law. And, since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, you may not legally possess cannabis. In fact, you may be treated like a drug trafficker and handed a stiff penalty if you are caught transporting it from one state to another.
Does It Matter Which Way You Travel?
No. Whether you fly, drive, or take a boat, the law is clear: you may not legally transport cannabis from one state to another. There are no exceptions or loopholes to this rule.
Can Police Search Your Vehicle to Look for Cannabis?
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution bars police from unlawful searches of your home. However, that does not apply to your vehicle.
The rules on police searches of vehicles are complex and in some cases unclear. They can vary from state to state. In some cases, there are even indications that the rules are being enforced differently depending on the police officer.
In some states, like Texas, police have the right to search your vehicle if they smell cannabis smoke coming from the vehicle. They may also search the vehicle if the driver appears to be dazed and disoriented, or if they see paraphernalia like pipes or rolling papers that might be associated with marijuana.
However, some states are changing the rules around searches.
In New York and Maryland, new legislation prohibits police from searching vehicles even if the police smell marijuana. States like Colorado may be heading in the same direction.
What Is the Penalty for Breaking the Law?
If you are caught moving marijuana across state lines, you could face stiff penalties and jail time. Your penalty will depend on the amount of marijuana that you were transporting.
If you move less than 50 kilos of cannabis, you could still spend up to five years in jail and pay a fine of up to $250,000. Transporting greater amounts will likely result in more jail time and greater fines.
The cannabis business is booming right now. However, the regulations that govern cannabis distributors are still in flux, making it a difficult industry to get into. Working with the experts at Bespoke Financial Services can ensure that you always get the best advice on the legal and financial side of the industry. Contact us today to learn what we can do for your business.