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Why can’t you transport marijuana out of California?

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2023 | Criminal Defense

It wasn’t that long ago that marijuana was illegal in every state and in the United States, at the federal level. But things have been changing over the last decade or so. Most states now have medical marijuana laws, and roughly half allow for the use of recreational marijuana.

One warning that you will still get, however, is that marijuana has to stay in the state. As a consumer, you can’t transport it over state lines and out of California, whether you’re in a car or trying to fly. You could be arrested and your products could be confiscated. 

But why is this true? If marijuana is legal, why does it matter where you take it? 

The federal laws remain in place

The first reason that this is true is that federal laws haven’t changed yet. As of right now, recreational marijuana use is still illegal federally. When a crime crosses state lines, it automatically becomes a federal issue. Therefore, marijuana could be legal in both states and on both sides of that line – California and Nevada, for instance – but it is still illegal to cross from one state into another.

The other state may have different laws

Second, there could be legal issues, depending on where you’re going. Even when marijuana products were purchased legally in California, under either medical or recreational marijuana laws, those products still become illegal if the other state prohibits them. So getting arrested in a state where marijuana is illegal – like Wyoming – could result in serious charges, even if you explain to the police that you didn’t break the law when you bought those products.

Misunderstandings are common when it comes to marijuana laws, as they are changing quickly. Those facing charges need to know about their legal defense options.