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With an increasing number of states legalizing recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, those traveling between states may be curious about the legalities of traveling with marijuana.
The first two states to pass laws legalizing the recreational of marijuana, Colorado and Washington, have both seen an influx of pot tourists -- those coming to the state to legally purchase and use marijuana. But what happens when travelers from other states attempt to pack some pot in their luggage and return home?
Is it legal to travel with pot?
Even when marijuana was purchased legally in one state, neighboring states will generally apply their own laws to any marijuana found in vehicles crossing state lines. States that share a border with Colorado, such as Nebraska and Wyoming, have seen or are expecting to see an increase in marijuana arrests due to Colorado pot crossing the state's borders.
Regardless of any state laws, the fact remains that the possession and transportation of marijuana is illegal under federal law. Airports and airplanes are generally governed by federal law, meaning that having marijuana in an airport or an airplane is typically against the law, even on an intrastate flight.
However, as far as enforcement is concerned, the TSA is not necessarily on the lookout for marijuana. According to the TSA website, "TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer." In Colorado, USA Today reports that law enforcement officers alerted to the presence of marijuana by TSA screeners have allowed travelers to dispose of the marijuana rather than face prosecution.
Transporting marijuana by train is also generally a no-go. Amtrak rules state that "The use or transportation of marijuana for any purpose is prohibited, even in states where recreational use is legal or permitted medically." However, local transit agencies may have their own rules regarding marijuana possession onboard trains.
For example, San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system allows a person in possession of a medical marijuana identification card (or even an individual claiming to have a card, but without being in possession of the card) to possess and transport medical marijuana on BART. That is, unless the officer believes the card is false or the person is otherwise in violation of state drug laws (e.g., dealing weed on BART.)
Learn more about state and federal laws regulating the possession, use, and cultivation of medical at FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Drug Charges.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.