What Happens When You Take Weed Across State Lines?

What Happens When You Take Weed Across State Lines?

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“When you think about it, what did I really do? I crossed an imaginary line with a bunch of plants.” So says fictionalized drug smuggler George Jung as played by Johnny Depp in the 2001 film Blow.

That’s what happens when you cross state lines with marijuana. Imaginary lines. A bunch of plants. Even if those plants are legal on both sides of that imaginary line (as cannabis is on, for example, either side of the Oregon-Washington border) taking them across that line is still a federal crime. In fact, it’s a state crime in Oregon too.

In Oregon, as in California and Nevada, there are legal regulations on the importing and exporting cannabis to and from the state. Depending on the amount, these can even constitute state felonies.

But all that’s nothing compared to federal restrictions, which make taking any amount of cannabis or cannabis extracts a potential felony. In the eyes of the U.S. government, there is no such thing as a legal cannabis state and according to the law of the Schedule of Controlled Substances, any amount of cannabis (50 kilograms or less) trafficked across state lines is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

Sounds pretty scary, but most people who take a dime bag from Illinois to Indiana don’t have to worry about hard prison time. “The risks you’re running in theory are much bigger than in practice,” Alison Malsbury, an attorney at Canna Law Group, told Leafly recently.

“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,” she said, but “the chances of feds or the DEA sitting at the border waiting to catch someone–that’s just not happening. It’s not practical or worth their time.”

The real concern lies in charges for people arrested for other marijuana crimes, like distribution in a 420-unfriendly state. If that happens, then “taking cannabis across the border is considered an aggravating factor,” by authorities, Malsbury said, and that could lead to harsher sentences.

Federal easing of interstate cannabis transport would not only be helpful to wanderlusting stoners, but to the industry too. Legal cooperation between a cannabis business in California and another in Oregon is nearly impossible as it is. And that’s not likely to change until a slightly more chilled-out administration takes residence in the White House.

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