Laws Governing the Use of Medical Marijuana Across State Lines

Updated on November 20, 2020

Marijuana legalization has taken a slow but successful process in the United States of America. Out of the 50 states, buying weed in California for medical purposes was legalized first.   Over time, medical marijuana has become legal in almost half of the states in the country, including Washington, D.C. However, the use of marijuana for recreational purposes remains prohibited in most states other than Oregon, Washington, D.C., Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon. 

Some laws and regulations govern the use of marijuana, even for states where the substance has been legalized. The implication of this is that you cannot use marijuana as it pleases you without considering such laws.

So, should you be worried while moving with medical marijuana across state lines? Read on to find out!

Decriminalization vs. Legalization of Marijuana

Many people do not understand what it means to decriminalize verses legalize marijuana. Perhaps, it would help highlight the difference between these two terms before getting into the subject of moving across states with the substance.

Legalizing medical marijuana implies that you cannot be ticketed, arrested, or convicted for possessing it provided you follow the given rules. For instance, Colorado residents can use cannabis freely if they comply with the laws and regulations governing its use, such as being at least 21 years old. 

Decriminalization differs from legalization in that it involves the exemption of specific actions from prosecution. For instance, possessing small quantities of marijuana was decriminalized in California. The implication is that if you have a small amount of cannabis, you pay a fine for civil violation instead of being prosecuted or going to jail.

So, is medical marijuana decriminalized or legalized in the state you are moving to?

State Laws on Transportation of Marijuana

Whether you are using marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, you are liable to your resident state’s federal laws and laws. Similarly, your use of medical marijuana while moving across state lines puts you on legal implications depending on the individual state’s law.

If the use of marijuana in a given state is considered illegal, it implies that its transportation is unlawful. However, states that have legalized marijuana have different rules for its transportation, especially for individuals and businesses. For instance, if you are 21 years of age and in possession of one ounce of cannabis that is not for sale, you will not pay any penalty in Colorado.

The transportation of marijuana is treated differently depending on whether you are an individual or business. As a business owner, you will need a license from the State Licensing Authority and other associated authorities to transport cannabis in Colorado. If you are in Washington, you will need to comply with the transportation requirements and possess a marijuana retailer license. The case is different for California, where you are licensed to transport marijuana only within the state.

Moving with Marijuana Across State Lines: Federal Laws

Despite marijuana being legal in most states, using it is still illegal under federal law. If you are caught using cannabis while moving across state lines, you are liable for federal criminal prosecution. The penalty you pay for having marijuana will depend on the quantity you are carrying and whether you have been prosecuted previously for the same offense.

So, if you are still unsure whether you can travel with marijuana across states, the answer is no. The truth holds even for states where the substance has been legalized, but why?

There are several perspectives on this. First, under federal laws, the use of marijuana remains illegal. Despite the federal authorities announcing the need for state initiatives to deal with marijuana cases, there has never been any law declaring that the enforcement of the marijuana laws should stop, especially where they have jurisdiction, such as in interstate commerce.

Another perspective on this issue is on the surroundings of marijuana authorization. If you want to avoid entanglement with the federal government, you should adhere to the set standards on marijuana use and transportation, whether locally grown or acquired from licensed individuals. Resultantly, a large number of states are highly likely to allow you to use and move with cannabis in a state where you have the legal authorizations to do so.

Besides, some states are yet to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. If you move with marijuana to such states, it would be treated as a crime regardless of whether you are authorized to use it or if you came from a state whether its use is legalized.

Final Thoughts

Legalizing medical marijuana in most states of America came as a relief for most individuals, depending on cannabis for treatment. While medical use of marijuana may be authorized in one state, it might be illegal in another state. So, before you decide to use your cannabis while moving across state lines, make sure you have a clear understanding of the various laws governing its use and transportation in various states.

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