Is Transporting Medical Marijuana Across State Lines Legal?
Legalized medical marijuana is gradually overtaking the country, at least where state laws are concerned. No fewer than 33 states now allow for the use of medical cannabis in some form or another. Ditto for DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. But this raises an interesting question: is transporting medical marijuana across state lines legal?
Let us say you were to purchase cannabis capsules from Deseret Wellness marijuana dispensary in Provo, Utah. Medical cannabis is legal in the neighboring states of Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado. Marijuana is still completely illegal in Wyoming and Idaho. How would you fare transporting your cannabis products into any of those states?
The issue here is one of both federal and state law. It is best to start with federal law given that transporting substances across state lines is generally a federal issue. It can be prosecuted in federal courts.
Still Illegal to Washington
Nothing has changed in respect to how Washington views cannabis. Federal law still classifies marijuana as an illegal, controlled substance. This means that in the eyes of the feds, it is never legal to transport medical marijuana across state lines. Though it is rarely prosecuted at the federal level, it can be.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) tends to concentrate its efforts on bigger fish. But if the agency wanted to prosecute average citizens for transporting marijuana from state to state, they have a legal case for doing so. But what about the states themselves?
Traveling Between States
Again, assume you have purchased medical marijuana in Provo, Utah. You might be interested to know that marijuana is fully legal and decriminalized in Nevada and Colorado. You could travel to both states without issue. On the other hand, you cannot legally transport to Wyoming or Idaho because marijuana is still fully illegal in those states.
Now imagine you bought medical marijuana in Oklahoma in hopes of transporting it to Arkansas. Medical marijuana is allowed in both states. However, it is illegal for consumers to import medical cannabis products into Arkansas. If you use medical cannabis in Arkansas, you must purchase it in Arkansas.
Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson addressed this issue back in January 2019. He made it clear that, despite the state’s attorney general implying otherwise, it was still a crime to bring medical marijuana in Arkansas from other states. It says something when a governor feels the need to contradict his attorney general.
Proceed at Your Own Risk
So, is transporting medical marijuana across state lines legal? In the truest sense of the law, no. Interstate travel is governed by Washington, and marijuana is still illegal to the Feds. In addition, there are certain states that bar importation of medical cannabis products from other states.
The long and short of it is this: should you choose to transport medical marijuana across state lines, proceed at your own risk. The likelihood of being caught and prosecuted is slim. Nonetheless, the risk still exists.
Also understand that engaging in other types of questionable conduct – conduct that could draw the attention of law enforcement – only increases the chances that transporting medical cannabis across state lines will get you in trouble. As an example, do not expect mercy if you are found transporting cannabis after being stopped for speeding.
This obviously creates an uncomfortable situation for medical cannabis users who want to travel outside of their states. Their cannabis cards are only good in their states of residence, so they either have to not travel or take their chances transporting their cannabis across state lines. Hopefully, a fix is in the works. For now, it is a crazy situation.