Can I Travel With Medical Marijuana In My Car?
Going on road trips if you’re an MMJ patient might be a hazy issue, but allow us to clear the smoke.
Understandably it can be a concern for medical marijuana patients who need to travel within and across states. Traveling with a condition can already be a challenge on its own, but traveling with medical marijuana is risky because it’s still considered illegal at the federal level.
Traveling By Car In The Same State
If you are traveling within your state and are a registered medical marijuana patient, having the plant in your car shouldn’t be an issue. Patients can carry their medicine while walking or even driving around. But if you will be traveling outside the county, it’s important to be aware of certain ordinances established by other counties about medical marijuana use. It will vary according to each county, but in California for example the law states that all counties should allow MMJ patients to carry the minimum state requirements, at the very least. As a word of caution, if you are an MMJ patient, it’s in your best interest to do your homework and familiarize yourself with state laws. It would also be wise for you to avoid traveling to areas you aren’t familiar with while carrying more than the state minimum on you.
Never Travel With Marijuana Plants
Whether you are traveling in or out of state, you should never transport marijuana plants even in states where growing medical marijuana has been legalized. You should still study your own state laws for restrictions on traveling with MMJ. In California for example the law states that traveling with marijuana plants is only permitted:
- If a patient is transferring residences
- If a registered caregiver is helping to move plants from a patient’s residence to another
- If a registered caregiver or patient
Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, driving under the influence of pot is illegal (and dangerous for you). If you are planning to transport marijuana by car, it’s recommended to keep it in the glove compartment or the trunk because keeping it in the passenger area or in a broken/open container may violate open container regulations, which are similar to the restrictions on driving with alcohol. Violations of open container laws can put you at risk for DUI charges, so your best bet is to keep it stored in child-proof packaging or in its original package from the dispensary until you’ve arrived at your destination.
You might also want to think twice about bringing back some pot from Colorado to California, especially since marijuana is legal in both states. Be careful since the route traveling from the Midwest to California is extremely risky – and authorities already are already aware of this. Driving with marijuana or any other kind of controlled substance over state lines is still illegal and will put you at serious risk.
Some US states practice a reciprocity rule which means that if you’re a medical cannabis patient, you’ll be allowed to possess and consume the plant legally when visiting the state. These include Arizona, Michigan, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Rhode Island. However you might want to reconsider your traveling by car to other states that are known to have harsher consequences for possessing cannabis if caught, so you might want to avoid going on a road trip to these states: Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri.
What To Do If You’re Stopped On The Road
It could happen so it’s always best to be prepared. If you do get pulled over on the road, do your best to stay calm. Have the necessary documents organized: your medical card, license, registration, and insurance. If you are asked to step out of the car, you should comply and don’t forget to turn off the engine and lock the doors.
Remember that the cops can only search you if they see or smell cannabis, which is a probable cause of criminal activity.
Cars are always a safer choice when it comes to traveling with MMJ provided that you follow all traffic laws and don’t attempt to cross international borders. You can also reduce getting worked up and developing anxiety about traveling with MMJ if you make sure that the places you are traveling to and through already have medical marijuana laws in place.
However, traveling by plane is a completely different story. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says that they won’t search people for marijuana specifically although if they do discover it during routine screenings, legal actions will be taken. Since the TSA is an agency of the federal government, marijuana is still considered illegal.
At the end of the day, no matter what the law dictates it’s always in your best interest to be discreet most especially when you are traveling with marijuana.