**Legal Disclaimer: This information in this article is not intended to be used as legal advice. We recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney or legal representative in your state prior to transporting cannabis.**
As marijuana becomes legalized across the U.S. for both medicinal and (in some states) recreational purposes, it is important to discuss the possible issues and legal ramifications for transporting cannabis. If you’re in the cannabis business, keeping in the know about transport should be at the top of your list as logistics will likely become a necessary part of your business at some point in time.
Legal Implications of Transporting Cannabis
Since you operate your business in a state where cannabis is available, you’re probably already aware of the difference between the terms legalized and decriminalized. Simply put, if something is legalized then it is legal and without penalty as long as you follow the laws, rules, and regulations concerning its use. If it’s decriminalized that means that it is no longer punishable as a criminal offense, but could still carry civil penalties (including the payment of fines, etc.)
It’s important to note that even in states where cannabis is legal, there are still other restrictions when it comes to transfers and transport. For instance, in Colorado, if you’re an individual who transfers less than one ounce of cannabis to someone at least 21 years old, you cannot be penalized. That is…as long as no money exchanged hands.
If you’re operating as a business, you must be legally licensed at both the state and local levels and follow specific detailed transfer and transport requirements since money will be changing hands.
Don’t forget that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. It can be confusing, but like many federal laws, it is the transporting across state lines that make it a federal affair and can take any alleged crime out of the hands and authority of the state. Transporting between states changes your violation to drug trafficking which is policed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and is subject to federal criminal prosecution.
No Open Containers
Other concerns you should be aware of include the method you use to transport cannabis. You should always travel with your product covered in the bed of the van or truck or secured in a locked box or locked in the trunk. It must never be accessible to the driver or the passengers during transport.
Just as with alcohol, it may be legal to possess or travel with a bottle, but it is illegal to have an open container in the vehicle. The same rules apply to cannabis.
Prepare Your Documentation
Although it might not seem like a big deal if you aren’t going a long distance, you must always have your legal documentation available. Your paperwork could include caregiver licenses, any patient registry cards, or business and physician documentation, as required by law. It goes without saying that you should never attempt to transport cannabis into a state in which cannabis is illegal, even if it is for personal use.
Take the time to look up the rules and regulations in your state before you transport cannabis.
Consider Insurance When Transporting Marijuana
Outside of the legal issues, you might also consider purchasing “cargo in-transit” insurance for potential loss during transport. This could be beneficial down the line should an accident, theft, or another issue arise during transport.
Let’s recap with some Do’s and Don’ts of transporting Cannabis:
- Check with local and state authorities and regulations before traveling to confirm that you are in compliance.
- Always carry all proper documentation, licensing, or other materials in case you are stopped by authorities.
- Be sure to take all of your own personal documentation as well (such as your Driver’s License, proof of insurance, and registration paperwork for your vehicle).
- Don’t forget to keep your transported cannabis locked up during travel. It must be inaccessible to both the driver and passengers at all times.
- Don’t transport quantities larger than permitted by law.
- Don’t transport marijuana across state lines even if it is legalized/decriminalized in both states.
As a business owner, it is always your responsibility to be knowledgeable of the laws and regulations concerning your products. With a little research and a lot of due diligence on your part, the logistics of cannabis transport can help your business become more lucrative. Want more? Join us for a CannaCon marijuana expo in your area and learn more about transporting marijuana. Registration is now open for CannaCon Northeast and CannaCon South.