Shipping cannabis from one legal state to another legal state. Ok, right?

Pot plane

Wrong. Don’t do it.

As a cannabis lawyer I have heard, over and over, people tell me that it’s ok to ship or take cannabis from one state where it’s legal (say, Washington) to another state where it’s legal (say, Colorado). The idea makes some logical sense. You take pot from one state where you’re approved to have it, put it on a plane, and ship or deliver it to another state where it’s ok to have it. I’ve even heard people insist that the plane’s high altitude as it passes over non-legal states means that the laws in the states over which it passes don’t apply. This seems to make some sense, too.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is the Feds. Under Federal law, cannabis is a Schedule I drug along with heroin, LSD, mescaline, ecstasy, and even bath salts. This is the highest level of prohibition because, according to the Federal government, the drugs in Schedule I have a “high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or substance under medical supervision.” Ridiculous, right? Yes. But there cannabis sits, illegal, right there on Schedule I next to these other drugs, some of which are terribly insidious.

Cannabis is illegal under Federal law. And, importantly, it remains illegal under Federal law even in states where it has been legalized. Pretend that the United States government is your parents. Your Dad says, “pot is ok with me.” But your Mother says, “No way.” So, under that scenario, is pot ok in your house? The answer is “sort of.” It means that, if your Dad catches you smoking pot you’re not going to get into trouble. But if your Mom catches you…. you’re grounded.

A similar dynamic is currently going on in the US. Except that, in this case, your “Mom” is the US Government. And, importantly, she rules the roost. She’s the final arbiter of what’s right and what’s wrong, even if your Dad says it’s ok. And she says, “So long as you use pot in your bedroom, and don’t take it into your brother’s room, I won’t punish you.” She doesn’t say that it’s ok. She says that you can use it in your bedroom. So, if you take it to your brother’s bedroom you’re in trouble. Interestingly, in keeping with our analogy, she says the exact same thing to your brother: “So long as you use pot in your bedroom, and don’t take it into your sister’s room, I won’t punish you.” Strange, right? Yes. But that’s the rule.

The US Justice Department issued a memo called the Cole memo stating that, although cannabis remains illegal under Federal law, it won’t use its limited resources to crack down on marijuana users so long as they didn’t trigger certain “enforcement priorities.” In other words, so long as pot users stay out of the Fed’s way, they’re ok. The Cole memo set out several priorities, one of which was: “Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states.” Period. It didn’t qualify the statement with, “To states where it is illegal.” It said, “to other states.” For this reason, the Feds will prosecute you if you try to ship or deliver cannabis from Colorado to Washington. Period.

So don’t do it.


16 comments on “Shipping cannabis from one legal state to another legal state. Ok, right?Add yours →

  1. I want to know if it is legal to send marijuana from pohnpei FSM Federal States of Micronesia to the United States I want to know if I am not going to get busted or sent to jail for doing this sending it off by shipping and planes and the ship I want to know if it is legal or illegal sending off marijuana from the FSM to the United States I want to know if the state that is legal say example like Arkansas in Springdale and Roger if it’s okay I sent marijuana to the United States from the federal States of Micronesia pohnpei

    1. Read the article again, he tells your u, how did you get in this page and not get a answer? The title of the page tells u that they s article is about shipping from state to state even if it’s legal in both states…he said it’s illegal because it it’s illegal in feds eyes, but they do not want to use limited resources on it, aslong as you keep it in your state ( assuming it’s legal there) you won’t be arrested..if you send it travel with it, but most states give tickets. Lame ass Indiana does not ..they stop short of burning you at the stake..or governor sucks donkey peters

    1. Marson- Marijuana is an illegal schedule 1 controlled substance in the USA. For this reason, it is a crime to send marijuana to the USA from another country without first obtaining a permit from the DEA (which is only granted in very, very limited circumstances.) -Rod

  2. I would never do it. But i have alot of people say its legal. If you buy weed from a legal state like California and you mail it to new jersey where its legal now, is that illegal? I’ve heard numerous things and people say its legal cause its being transported to another legal state.

    1. Chris- As I discuss in this article, it is illegal to transport marijuana from one state to another state, even if marijuana has been legalized in both of the states. -Rod

  3. I mean you have made it clear its illegal. But how likely is it the feds are going to spend thousands of tax payer dollars just to stop someone from transporting say 15 1gram cartridges of the distillate concentrate which costs less than 200$ for personal use? I mean yeah they can prose Ute but I get them from people who get them regularly from Cali . I’m on the east coast its fully legal and he gets packs of 100 for 1000$ its on the website. How does the websites and businesses get away with shipping it. I mean it says it right on the website they ship to my state . but they don’t list states that its not legal in . I think there may be a loop hole that you may not know of due to all of this being so new . on top of that most of the sites have you use online currency or PayPal . if this is true about people being busted for it the company would not thrive the way it has …and I would think if it was that much on the feds radar they would be busting the company’s.

    1. Dolores- Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. There is no legal loophole. Either the companies/people you are referring to are illegally transporting marijuana/marijuana extracts, or their products contain no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC and thus qualify as lawful hemp. It is legal to transport hemp throughout the US. -Rod

    2. I tried to buy some carts online and have sent to me and the website I went to I had talked to them via there website and they assured me it’s ok and they’ll send them so I paid them and never received product even paid for overnight shipping never came tried to contact again n they wouldn’t talk to me so pretty much took my money

  4. I appreciate your concern, However I have decided to kick the door down,on my marijuana empire ,There are more millionaires being made right now from cannabis business I’ll take the risk,

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  6. We have an interesting situation here in MN. Medicinal has been available for several years but difficult to qualify for a prescription plus very MD’s are open to prescribing. Recreational has become legal but we are about 15 months out from shops opening. All marijuana being offered in medicinal shops or soon to be opened recreational shops MUST be grown in MN, Several of the Indian tribes in northern MN, raise their own and are open for retail for recreational sales. Problem is the nearest shop to the Twin Cities is about 3-4 hour drive one way. None of the local Indian tribes close to the cities are retailing. I called one of the northern tribe locations to see if they would ship. They can’t due to having to be paid in cash, no credit or debit card vendors allow their cards to be used for purchase of something that is against the federal law. Is it not time for the fed and states to figure this out? I told one of the local head shops we should rent and organize a Greyhound bus trip and make a day out of it. The trip there might be boring but the drive back would be fun.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. It is frustrating that access to marijuana continues to be elusive for many people. That being said, MN and most of the country, has a thriving hemp industry where you can find most of the exact same products made from legal hemp. You might want to check them out. -Rod

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