Question: I understand that it’s legal to travel with cannabis under Colorado’s personal use law. I’m planning a vacation to Jackson Hole, Wyoming this winter and would like to pack some weed for the trip. But before doing so, I want to make sure that I’m not breaking any laws. Can I take marijuana that I legally possess in Colorado into another state?
Answer: Unfortunately for you, the short answer is no. Marijuana remains illegal in Wyoming, and when in Wyoming (or any other state), the laws of that state apply to you. And because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, transporting the drug across state lines could result in federal criminal charges. Read on to learn more about state laws regarding the possession and transportation of recreational cannabis.
Most criminal law is defined by state statute. Criminal codes vary from state to state, sometimes quite dramatically. Recreational marijuana and medical marijuana laws are a couple prime examples of how distinctly each state treats the same conduct.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington State both legalized the purchase and possession of marijuana for recreational use. Since that time, more states—including California and Massachusetts—have legalized the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana. In addition, many states have legalized marijuana for medical use. However, a number of states (including Wyoming) have held out and prohibit the possession of any amount of marijuana for any purpose.
In some states, such as Wyoming, the punishment for possession can range from a misdemeanor to a serious felony depending on the amount of marijuana in the possession of the person charged. A conviction may result in as “little” as a fine and possibly some jail time to years in a state penitentiary.
The fact that your purchase and possession of marijuana was legal in the state where you got it is no defense to possession in a different state with harsher laws. Not even a valid medical marijuana card from your home state will help you. For example, Wyoming law does not recognize the medicinal use of marijuana nor a medical marijuana card issued by another state.
While you might not face criminal charges for having marijuana in your car in Colorado, you almost certainly would if you were stopped in Wyoming. And, it is possible that the fact that you were transporting a drug could lead to a more severe charge (for drug trafficking or distribution of narcotics, for instance). And, if you are stopped on an interstate highway, it is possible that federal laws could come into play, which can carry even harsher penalties.
In short, it is not worth the risk of arrest and conviction to bring marijuana from one state into another. If you want to explore the subject further, talk to a criminal defense lawyer with experience in handling cases under the drug laws of the state you plan to visit.