Eight U.S. states and Washington, D.C. have now legalized the adult possession and use of cannabis. As an adult over 21 preparing for your summer vacation, maybe you’re considering a visit to one of them. But what are the exact rules and regulations you need to know for your legal marijuana vacation?
How much marijuana can I have?
The general rule of thumb in the legal states is that you can keep on your person one ounce (28 grams) of usable marijuana. The exceptions are Washington, D.C., where you may have two ounces (56 grams) and Maine, where you may have two-and-a-half ounces (70 grams).
If you decide to go with edible forms of cannabis, possession amounts vary. Washington and Oregon expressly allow a pound of solid cannabis products, like cookies or cake, and up to 72 ounces (a six-pack) of liquids, like sodas or tinctures. All the other states allow for any amount of edible product, so long as it contains no more than the marijuana possession limit within. (How does a cop look at a plate of pot brownies and discern whether there’s less than an ounce of flower in them? Your guess is as good as mine.)
What about extracts?
Rules for possession of the concentrated marijuana products, such as hash oil, wax and shatter that have become popular lately, are quite different. Washington, D.C. still treats extracts as a crime worthy of jail and fines. Nevada set their limit at 3.5 grams, Massachusetts at five grams, Washington State at seven grams and California at eight grams.
The other states allow possession of as much extract as flower, meaning one ounce in Colorado and Alaska and 2.5 ounces in Maine. Oregon also allows one ounce, but that limit only applies to extracts made with explosive gases like butane. If the concentrate is made without high heat and pressure, such as rosin press or ice-water hash, you may possess an entire pound of it in Oregon.
How much does it cost?
Not every legal state has open pot shops yet—just Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska. Washington, D.C. won’t have them, as Congress is blocking their attempts to tax and regulate marijuana. Massachusetts and Maine are still months away from open shops. California has plenty of medical dispensaries, which you can enter if you decide to spend some money on a medical marijuana evaluation that nearly anybody can pass. Nevada will open its doors to pot sales starting July 1, but it also has dispensaries that will accept your out-of-state (read: California) medical marijuana card.
The cost can vary depending on supply, selection, location and taxation. On that last front, Massachusetts will beat all the states on the lowest tax, at just 5.75 percent. Maine’s taxes will be 10 percent, Nevada’s 15 percent, California’s 15 percent plus $9.25 per ounce, Oregon’s 20 percent, Colorado’s 25 percent, Alaska’s $50 per ounce and Washington State’s a whopping 37 percent.
As for the first three cost considerations, Oregon’s got everybody beat with the lowest retail marijuana prices in the nation. Currently, PriceofWeed.com places Oregon’s average high-quality ounce price at $210. Some shops even have specials where an ounce costs less than $100.
Where can I smoke pot?
Public consumption is still a no-no in all the legalized states, with varying penalties. Most of the states will issue a $100 ticket for public consumption. Washington, D.C. sets its fine at only $25, while California and Massachusetts can tack on an “open container” fine of $250 and $500, respectively. Oregon’s public toking penalty is a Class B violation that can have fines as high as $1,000.
Nevada is definitely the worst place to be caught toking in public. It’s the only legal state that still applies a criminal penalty for public consumption, a misdemeanor with a $600 fine.
Maine is the only state that guarantees there will eventually be licensed public marijuana lounges. Massachusetts and Nevada may license them legislatively, while California will allow localities to license them. Alaska and Oregon officials are shuttering the clubs that had opened, but are working on conditions to allow them in the future. Colorado’s legislature bogged down this session trying to set them up. Washington is the only state that expressly forbids pot clubs, making the operation of one a felony under state law.
Hotels throughout America are almost all non-smoking. Even in the legal states, most will fine you $250 for smoking marijuana in your room. That’s why so many cannabis vacationers are turning to 420-friendly Airbnb rentals instead.
What about weed and driving?
It has never been legal to drive under the influence of marijuana, and in most the legal states, the police still rely on sobriety tests and observation to determine if you are too impaired to drive. However, under legalization, some states have instituted unscientific DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) standards that could land you in jail even though you’re nowhere near impaired.
In Nevada, just five nanograms (ng = billionths of a gram) of inactive marijuana metabolites in your urine is enough to convict you of a DUID. That’s an amount you could easily have in your system even a month after your last toke! The state will also accept 2 ng of active THC in your blood as proof of impairment.
In Washington State and Colorado, 5 ng of active THC in blood are required for a conviction. In Colorado, you can rebut that evidence by proving in court that you weren’t impaired, but in Washington that 5 ng reading is an automatic conviction.
While active THC in blood is what causes impairment from marijuana, levels this low are easily achievable by frequent marijuana consumers who are not too impaired to drive, even after a full night of sleep.
Also, be aware that in Colorado, Nevada, Maine, California and Washington, D.C., police may set up DUI checkpoints to evaluate your condition to drive without any suspicion to believe you’re impaired.
Can I take some marijuana home?
Of course not! And even though four western legal states share borders, remember that it is illegal for you to take your legal marijuana from one state into another, even if both are legal states.
If you’re visiting from abroad, U.S, Customs and Border Patrol might ask you at the border if you consume marijuana. If you answer “yes,” even if you were in a legal state when you toked, you can be denied entry to the United States for life.
If you get asked the marijuana question, politely decline to answer. That will result in you being barred from entering the United States, but only on that day. You can try to cross the border again tomorrow and hope the next Customs agent doesn’t ask the question.
Here’s to your next marijuana summer vacation—be safe and legal and have a great time!