Traveling With Weed: Avoid a Holiday Shakedown

The chaos of the holiday traveling season is now upon us, and regardless if you are a medical marijuana patient or simply a cannabis connoisseur with a literal interpretation of the High Holiday, most experts agree that exercising a little common sense will help you avoid being harassed by the scrooges of stonersville — also known as the cops.

Law enforcement agencies are infamous for beefing up patrols when travel along the great American roadways are expected to increase; so with federal data showing that 91% of long distance holiday travel is done by car, it will be a damn miracle if anyone makes it to dinner at Grandma’s house without a citation or a felony.

California attorney Omar Figueroa, who specializes in cannabis related cases, says that medical marijuana users need to be aware of the laws being enforced where they are traveling.

For example, “Under California law medical cannabis patients are only allowed to transport what’s reasonably related to your medical need considering distance, method and timing of transportation,” said Figueroa. “That means a personal amount, not three pounds.”

“And the laws don’t travel with you,” he added. “Many times people live in the freedom bubble, they see freedom all around them, then they’re traveling to places of less freedom and they make a mistake and drop their guard.”

Medical marijuana patients need to be aware of the screwy DUI laws that exist in states where they may have holiday plans. Technically, marijuana users driving sober from California into the states of Nevada, Utah or Arizona are considered intoxicated as soon as their front wheels cross the state line. Unfortunately, since out-of-state license plates are enough, these days, to warrant police harassment, innocent people on their way to holiday parties may run the risk of having their turkey dinner in the county jail… and let’s face it, there is nothing merry about that.

Figueroa advises that anyone traveling with weed, medicinal or otherwise, should keep it sealed and stashed in the trunk…and avoid breaking the law. “Only break one law at a time. If you’re speeding don’t smoke weed in your car,” he said.

Stoned travelers may be better off taking to the pot-friendly skies. Recent reports show the Transportation Security Administration has implemented a relaxed attitude when it comes to marijuana, stating that they do not actively look for drugs, but if they happen to find any, they will rat you out to the police.

“It seems like 9-11 has been a boon to pot smokers,” said Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML. “I haven’t heard of people getting stopped in a quite a while.”

Figueroa says that the TSA’s policy on marijuana is to enforce in lines with the local laws. “So, for example, in Oakland they respect medical marijuana law,” he said.

However, if you happen to get busted, “don’t run your mouth,” said Figueroa. “If you’re taking it to someone who is sick in a non-medical marijuana state, don’t say that, because you’re going to jail.”

He adds that flying without weed is probably the easiest option, but if you must travel with a fat sack, keep it stashed securely in some checked luggage and for the love of God, do not declare it.

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