Even though medical marijuana is legalized in about half the states in the U.S., patients still struggle with paranoia and fear about their cannabis treatments. For many years, possession has led to criminal charges. If you’re a participant in your state’s medical marijuana program, it may feel weird to be to possess these medications legally.
As a cardholding patient, you need to know your rights. However, some circumstances require caution, and driving with marijuana is one of them. Maybe you want to take a road trip, but you’re not sure if you can have your cannabis with you. Or maybe you’re just driving to the supermarket after you pick up your medicine. Whatever your reason, if you have marijuana in your car, you probably break into a cold sweat every time you see the police drive by.
Don’t panic! Knowledge is what you need to fight this fear. Each state may have different regulations on this subject, so be familiar with your state’s laws and codes. Here’s a basic overview of the things you should be aware of when having marijuana in your car.
No matter if you’re traveling around the block or traveling cross-country, there are a few things that are always illegal no matter what state you’re in:
Federal law always supersedes state governance, and unfortunately, the United States federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug and a federally banned substance. Keep that in mind.
Whether you’re driving with a few joints or a bag of edibles, if it contains cannabis, it’s considered marijuana. This includes all forms of the plant and cannabis-infused products, such as:
If you’re not driving under the influence, driving with medical marijuana in your state is not as big a deal. If you have your medical marijuana card certifying you’re part of the medical marijuana program, you can have a specified amount of cannabis, as governed by your state’s legislation, while you’re walking around or driving.
There are a few tips you should be aware of if you have cannabis in your car:
It’s illegal to have cannabis in your car when traveling from one state to another. Even if you’re going between states where marijuana is legal, like Oregon to Washington, this act falls within the authority of the federal government. And, as we mentioned earlier, marijuana is still federally illegal.
In general, the DEA and the feds have bigger fish to fry than those who have a small amount of cannabis in their car. However, you’re still at risk. You’re also in jeopardy if you’re within a border crossing zone preparing to go to Canada or Mexico. Before you even cross the border, this is still the federal government’s authority.
In these circumstances, it doesn’t matter if you’re caught with a small amount or a large stash, if you cross state lines it’s considered drug trafficking. So, the federal penalty is the same for any amount of marijuana found in your car:
The best way to avoid being pulled over with cannabis in your car is to practice three guidelines:
If you happen to be pulled over while in possession of cannabis, stay calm. It’s always best to be prepared ahead of time in the eventuality of this happening. Keep your documents organized — your driver’s license, car registration, proof of insurance and medical marijuana card should be readily available.
Be sure to comply with any of the officer’s requests, but keep the following in mind:
Although it’s not illegal to travel with cannabis in your car if you have a medical marijuana card, it’s probably best to leave it at home or to only travel with small, easily stored amounts. Once again, never drive under the influence of cannabis, even if you have an MMJ card. You put yourself and those on the road at risk.
If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and feel this treatment option would improve your quality of life, stop waiting and contact a marijuana doctor today to see if you qualify. You can also reach out to a local medical marijuana dispensary if you have further questions.