Traveling allows us to experience something new when life becomes mundane. Looking forward to vacations, stay-cations, and day trips can help rejuvenate us so we can return to everyday life with new energy. Many people try to figure out how cannabis can take the trip with them.
There are many things to consider when you want to incorporate cannabis into your vacation. Laws, limits, restrictions, and allowances matter no matter where you are going, how you are getting there, and where you are staying.
The United States and Cannabis
Currently, cannabis (and its derivatives, excluding CBD products with less than 0.3% THC) is illegal on the federal level in the US. It is a Schedule I controlled substance, which means the federal government believes that cannabis is highly addictive with great potential for abuse and has no medicinal value. Cannabis is banned and is subject to severe penalties (including prosecution) when you step foot on federal land or in jurisdictions that do not allow cannabis. Despite this, many states have passed their own laws as it relates to cannabis cultivation, sale, and use. In addition to this, jurisdictions within a state may have their own regulations as it pertains to cannabis. It is important to research and learn the laws of the jurisdictions (towns, cities, counties, states, territories) where you are considering buying, using, and/or possessing cannabis products to help you avoid some serious consequences.
As of January 2020, 11 states and Washington D.C. allowed recreational cannabis use for adults 21 and older. Generally, using cannabis in public is prohibited, even if you are of age. Outside of lawfully designated retail locations and private property that allows for the use of cannabis, no individual may use cannabis products in any other location. This means that using cannabis on the sidewalk right outside the door of your private home is considered an illegal activity.
Cannabis for medical use is legal in 33 states and Washington D.C. Typically, cannabis products may be purchased by an adult 18 years or older from lawful medical cannabis retailers for medicinal use with a physician’s recommendation. The adult caregiver of a minor, or other dependents, may purchase medical cannabis for the patient with a physician’s recommendation.
Where are you going?
Knowing where you are heading and the restrictions and allowances of the land will inform how, and if, cannabis can be a part of your trip. If you are traveling within the United States and its respective territories, it is vital that you understand that laws, rules, and regulations will vary significantly depending on where you’re headed.
Some states allow for reciprocity when it comes to purchasing medical cannabis. This means that a person may travel to a state where medical cannabis is legal and purchase medical products with their valid physician recommendation. Knowing if this is permissible prior to your trip, can mitigate frustrations when you arrive at your destination.
There are limits to the purchasing and possession of cannabis products – medicinal and adult-use alike. For example, California currently allows for adult-use consumers to purchase on any given day up to 28.5 grams of unconcentrated cannabis products, up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, including products that contain concentrate, and up to 6 immature cannabis plants. For medicinal limits, the state of California allows patients (and/or caregivers) to purchase up to 8 ounces of dried mature cannabis flower or plant conversion, up to 12 immature cannabis plants, and “[a]n amount of medicinal cannabis consistent with the patient’s needs as recommended by a physician.”1
If you are planning to travel between states where cannabis is legal, you should understand the restrictions regarding carrying cannabis across state lines. At this time, it is considered a federal offense to cross state lines with cannabis. Even on the west coast where the contiguous coastal states (California, Oregon, and Washington) have all legalized recreational cannabis possession and use, crossing the border with cannabis for adult-use in any amount or form can come with significant penalties. Lastly, if you are able to make it across state borders, understand that if you lawfully purchase cannabis in one state and take it to a state where it is not legal, you can be prosecuted.
How are you getting there?
Airplane, bus, boat, car, train… Each method of transportation and transportation company has its own restrictions and allowances when it comes to the transport of cannabis products.
Individual airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have differing regulations as it relates to flying with cannabis. Keeping with our west coast example, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) allows airport visitors to possess cannabis products while in the airport. However, the waters become murkier as you go past the ticketing counter. However, not all airports allow this. Denver International Airport prohibits the possession of cannabis while on any airport property, despite cannabis being legal within the state.
As California has legalized recreational cannabis possession and use, TSA agents do not search for cannabis at the security checkpoint. However, if cannabis is suspected or found on your person or in your carry on items by TSA, you will be directed by law enforcement to dispose of the product(s). This is similar to you trying to get past security with a bottle of water – you are simply not allowed to have it.
If you are in an airport in a jurisdiction where cannabis is illegal and attempt to go through TSA with cannabis products, you may be prosecuted. In certain cases, cannabis products may be allowed on airplanes, as long as the final product is hemp-derived CBD or FDA-approved medication.
If you make it past security with your cannabis product(s), you still have to make it onto the airplane. For the sake of brevity, airplanes are under the jurisdiction of the FAA as they utilize federal airways, putting them under the rule of federal law despite the state they may be flying over. This makes carrying cannabis on a plane a federal offense. Again, even if you are traveling between the contiguous west coast states where cannabis is legalized, it is still illegal to bring cannabis on your flight and it is still illegal to cross state lines with cannabis.
Traveling by Automobile
So, you’ve decided to hit the open road with cannabis. Rules apply even if you drive to your destination. In California it is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis. It is extremely dangerous to do and you can receive a DUI if you are found to be driving while impaired.
Next, open cannabis products are not allowed in the driver’s or passenger areas of the motor vehicle. A good rule of thumb is to keep your cannabis products in closed containers in the trunk of the car. Car rental companies, like Enterprise or Hertz, will charge you if you return a vehicle that smells of cannabis. So, needless to say, no smoking in the car.
Be mindful of the jurisdictions you are traveling through and to. Even within the state, counties and cities may vary on what is and is not permissible. Lastly, consider the routes you will be taking to your destination. Do they wind through a federal park or forest? If so, your possession of cannabis during that stretch of your drive is considered unlawful. As soon as you enter that federal park in a cannabis-legal state with your lawfully acquired cannabis in a closed container in your trunk, you are subject to prosecution because you will be in possession of a Schedule I drug in a federal jurisdiction.
Bus, Train, and Boat Travel
Amtrak strictly prohibits passengers from bringing cannabis on board, even if the trip is within a state where it is legalized. Bus companies such as Greyhound and MegaBus follow similar protocols.
If you are getting ready for a relaxing cruise to enjoy your time on the open sea, beware that many cruise lines also prohibit the possession and use of cannabis on board. If you are caught with cannabis, you will be fined and possibly kicked off the ship at your next stop. From there, you will be responsible for getting back home on your own.
Where are you staying?
So, you’ve made it to your destination where cannabis is completely legal for possession and use. Time to kick back and enjoy the vacation by lounging in the sun and inhaling the sweet notes of your flower, right?
Not quite yet.
Many hotels, and even Airbnbs, prohibit smoking on their property or in their rooms. Some locations even go as far as to ban cannabis from even entering the premises. Before your trip, look for places to stay that welcome cannabis use. Remember, cannabis can only be consumed in a licensed retail location designated for adult-use and a private location. Any public use of cannabis is unlawful and may cause you to incur fines and/or prosecution.
Visit Medallion Wellness
Are you looking to embark on your next cannabis-friendly trip? Medallion Wellness can help take some of the questions out of your travel plans. With convenient, central locations in Modesto, Atwater, Merced, and Fresno, California, our locations offer you road trip access to the beaches of San Francisco or the sights of Yosemite National Park (cannabis-free, of course). Whatever your preference, Medallion Wellness is a pitstop away.
Our experience in the cannabis industry can benefit you and your needs. Choose from our vast variety of products, ranging from CBD tinctures and medicinal-use products to full-spectrum flower and everything in between. We pride ourselves on providing not only quality products, but a quality experience. When you step into any one of our retail dispensaries or order for delivery, our experienced and knowledgeable team members ensure your time with us is full of enthusiasm and answers to your questions.
Be sure to join the Medallion Wellness VIP club and earn #MedallionGoldCoins as soon as you make your first purchase with us! With our reward program you can earn coins towards your next purchase, with no blackouts! Medallion Wellness is here to make your trip to the greater San Francisco area convenient and worth it. Read our reviews from our very satisfied customers!
Contact Medallion Wellness today to learn more about our offerings, retail locations, and delivery service area. Our “canna-guides” are standing by to assist you!
Although cannabis use and possession is legal in 33 states and Washington D.C. on the state level, it is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government. This makes it illegal to carry cannabis products across state lines, possess cannabis in federal parks and other protected areas, and on aircrafts utilizing federal airways. Also, there are still states that have not legalized the use of cannabis in any form. Traveling across state lines is punishable by federal law and traveling with cannabis to states that have not legalized its use is also a federal offense.
The government has allowed the lawful use and sale of hemp-derived CBD products. These products can range from flower and concentrates, to topical solutions. In order for these products to be in compliance with the law, they must contain 0.3% or less of THC. Certain states, such as Virginia, limit who can purchase CBD products to those who have a prescription from a medical professional.
- Bureau of Cannabis Control. (2020). Your Questions Answered. Retrieved from https://bcc.ca.gov/about_us/your_questions_answered.html
- Koslow, T. (2019). Everything You Should Consider When Traveling with Weed in the U.S. Retrieved from https://weedmaps.com/news/2019/06/everything-you-should-consider-when-traveling-with-weed-in-the-u-s/
- Akpan, N. & Leventhal, J. (2019). Is CBD legal? Here’s what you need to know, according to science. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/is-cbd-legal-heres-what-you-need-to-know-according-to-science