california litigators helping marijuana users avoid felony charges

California’s Proposition 64, passed in November 2016, allows adults 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana plants or 8 grams of cannabis concentrates for personal recreational use.

The initiative tracked the overall changing attitude toward marijuana use in the United States and made California one of seven states that legalize marijuana for recreational use (as does the District of Columbia).

Now that recreational use is an option, many Californians wonder whether it’s possible to take their cannabis with them when they travel for vacations. Of the states that share borders with California, only Arizona has not legalized recreational marijuana use--Arizona residents must have medical permission to use marijuana.

Nevada and Oregon, however, permit recreational use. They also permit adults 21 years of age and older to carry up to one ounce of marijuana plant matter for personal use: the same amount and age limits imposed by California law. So is it safe to drive across state lines into Nevada or Oregon with your recreational marijuana on board?

Legally speaking, the answer is no.

Understanding the State Lines

In the United States, each state has broad powers (except those specifically given to the federal government) to set laws within its own borders. This means that, on California land, the state of California can make a number of decisions--including whether or not to allow recreational cannabis use. Oregon and Nevada may make similar decisions within their own territory.

Once a state line is crossed, however, the activity in question becomes a question of interstate law. The federal government has jurisdiction over interstate matters.

Currently, federal law has no provision for legal marijuana use. While the federal government cannot force the states to pass state laws banning marijuana use, federal law enforcement can punish individuals for possessing marijuana on federal property (such as in a National Park or on a military base), and they can punish individuals for breaking the federal law banning the transportation of marijuana across state lines.

Under federal law, transporting marijuana across state lines can often be charged as a felony, with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Some U.S. states that allow recreational marijuana have also passed laws banning the importation of marijuana into the state. Oregon, for example, passed HB 4014, which forbids carrying marijuana either into or out of the state. Penalties depend on the amount of marijuana involved and range from a fine to a felony conviction. California and Nevada also included statements in their laws forbidding transport in and out of the state. Attempting to travel out of California with recreational cannabis could easily put you on the wrong side of state and federal law.

Contact Us Today

At CKB VIENNA LLP, our experienced California cannabis law attorneys focus on providing clear, thorough legal advice concerning cannabis use and businesses in California. With offices in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles, we’re prepared to help you solve your business problems. Contact us by calling 909-980-1040, or complete our online form.