Can You Legally Transport Cannabis Across State Lines?
The short answer, of course, is no.
Federal law prohibits transporting any federally restricted substance across state lines, and cannabis clocks in at Schedule I on the Controlled Substances Act, alongside the likes of heroin and LSD. What happens, however, when you’re transporting cannabis across state lines between two legal states, like Oregon and Washington, or California and Nevada?
“From a legal perspective, it’s very cut and dried,” Alison Malsbury, a Canna Law Group attorney explains. “In practice, however, it’s very ambiguous.”
“The risks you’re running in theory are much bigger than in practice. You’re still, by crossing the state lines, falling within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Even if cannabis is legal in both states, it’s that crossing of the border that puts you at risk,” Malsbury says.
Despite federal risks, however, the reality may be a bit more reassuring. “In practice, the chances of feds or the DEA sitting at the border waiting to catch someone–that’s just not happening,” she points out. “It’s not practical or worth their time.”
“What’s more likely,” she contends, “is that you’ll find yourself in another state where cannabis is not legal and, if you end up facing charges, taking cannabis across the border is considered an aggravating factor.”
Another area to watch out for, even within a legal state, is nearing any border crossing between countries. We’re not even talking about crossing the border–simply entering the border crossing zone is enough to land you in hot water.
“We had a client transporting cannabis within the state that got to the border crossing in Canada,” Malsbury elaborates. “You fall within the federal jurisdiction without even crossing the border, and they had everything seized. Once you fall within the gambit of Customs, a whole other set of rules apply. It was one producer-processor to another, but they had everything seized. This is just one example of how the federal government is going to continue functioning.”