Small Quantities, Big Risk: Why You Shouldn't Travel With Marijuana
It’s becoming a common story for people who rarely ever partake in marijuana to go to Colorado (or Washington) and then: buy a few edibles, have some fun and decide they can’t leave without a stash for home. There’s just one problem. Marijuana is still illegal in Texas regardless of where you bought it. Even worse, those special brownies could land you with a felony if you aren’t careful!
Before you go enjoy your next Rocky Mountain high, make sure you understand the laws and are aware of the potential consequences of inadvertently smuggling weed or edibles back home—your wallet will thank you later!
Traveling with marijuana in any form in any type of mode of transportation always carries a risk. That said as you might suspect, the kind of penalties you could be facing can vary a great deal depending on what you’re caught with and where.
Generally speaking, federal marijuana laws return the second you enter the airport, even if you’re traveling from one state with legal marijuana to another (i.e. Colorado to Washington). TSA are essentially the feds—they are employed by the federal government, not the state—therefore they enforce federal laws, not state laws. The same way a TSA agent in Texas won’t let you openly carry a firearm on airplane, TSA in Colorado will not let you carry marijuana on an airplane.
If you do get caught with marijuana in your baggage in a legal state like Colorado, what happens next usually depends on how much you’re carrying. If a TSA agent spots a spare joint or a small bottle of herb in your carry-on, odds are you’ll get pulled aside for additional screening and the marijuana will be thrown away. However, this is 100% at the discretion of the TSA officer. Whether or not they report you to the DEA or local authorities is completely up to them, and they are legally authorized to do so for ANY usable amount of marijuana you attempt to fly with.
If you’re carrying much more than an ounce or the marijuana you’re carrying is packaged in a way that suggests intent to distribute, you’ll be promptly escorted to the DEA agents stationed at the airport who will then decide whether or not they want to charge you with drug trafficking. This is a felony with some serious consequences upon conviction.
Flying with marijuana is already risky business, but driving home with it can be even more dangerous. Unlike firearms, marijuana is not considered a constitutional right. Therefore, the reciprocity laws that allow you to carry a legally-owned and licensed firearm between states do not apply to marijuana.
The second you cross state lines on your way home from a state where marijuana is legal, that weed in your trunk becomes illegal once again regardless of where it was purchased. Those small town police officers are just itching for an easy bust the second you tell them where you’re coming from.
Depending on where you are in your drive, any amount of marijuana can get you (and possibly your passengers) thrown in jail on possession charges, and that’s if what you have is a small amount of flower (pure, leafy marijuana). If you’re carrying more than an ounce of marijuana or are in possession of any THC concentrates like oil, wax or even edibles, you may be facing enhanced possession and/or trafficking charges. Both of these felonies carry possible jail time upon conviction.
Unlike being caught at an airport, being pulled over in another state comes with no middle-man between you and law enforcement. As long as the police officer wants to arrest you for having weed, they can and will. It’s as simple as that. Additionally, what you’re carrying matters much more on a highway than it may in an airport. Having a left-over chocolate edible bar in your backpack at Denver International may earn you a talking to; having it in your center console in Tulsa could earn you a trip to jail.
While most people know that traveling home with marijuana is illegal, few understand the risks they take when they try to travel home with edibles or other THC concentrates like wax, hash oil or edibles.
Although it’s considered a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical usage by the DEA, flower (leafy marijuana) is placed in its own, less severe penalty group with the following punishment ranges for possession.
- Possession of less than 2 ounces: Class B Misdemeanor
- Possession of 2 to 4 ounces: Class A Misdemeanor
- Possession of 4 ounces to 5 pounds: State Jail Felony
- Possession of 5 to 50 pounds: 3rd Degree Felony
- Possession of 50 pounds, up to a ton: 2nd Degree Felony
- Possession of more than 1 ton: 1st Degree Felony
THC concentrates are a different story all together. While possessing a little marijuana is unlikely to result in actual jail time, possessing a few edibles or dabs can put you in serious legal trouble. Although THC is the active chemical component that gives marijuana its intoxicating effect, the marijuana penalty group only applies to flower.
Concentrates including wax, edibles, hash oil and dabs are placed in penalty group two alongside common psychedelics like Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) and Mescaline (Peyote). Possessing any usable amount of a THC concentrate will land you with a state jail felony, and it only gets worse from there.
- Possession of less than one gram: State Jail Felony
- Possession of 1 to 4 grams: 2nd Degree Felony (punishable by 2-20 years in prison)
- Possession of 4-400 grams: 1st Degree Felony (punishable by 5-99 years in prison, or life)
- Possession of 400 grams or more: Enhanced 1st Degree Felony (punishable by 10-99 years in prison or life)
Something to keep in mind: A single gram of marijuana isn’t very much marijuana at all, and flower doesn’t weigh much. Edibles like cookies and brownies are naturally a little bit heavier, meaning you don’t exactly have to be Pablo Escobar to wind up facing a 1st Degree Felony for possession! While you and your lawyer can attempt to argue down the charge based on the actual quantity of marijuana used in the edible, it’s still an ugly situation to find yourself in.
As you’ve seen, interstate marijuana charges can get out-of-hand in a hurry. If you’ve been charged with possession of trafficking for trying to bring marijuana home with you, you need quality defense in your corner right away.
Super Lawyer Mark Thiessen is licensed in both Colorado and Texas, giving him the unique qualifications necessary to help you fight these dangerous possession charges in court. A pot brownie accident doesn’t have to mean losing all of your freedom. Call 713-864-9000 or fill out the form to schedule your free consultation today!