We live in a world of change, which is perhaps always a true statement but seems particularly poignant for the modern American. Society is undergoing great change at a phenomenal rate, and even the manner in which we assess the law is evolving. This may be no more evident than in the seemingly widespread acceptance of marijuana and in the relaxed and even eliminated laws forbidding it in states throughout the union.
1. The Federal Government Didn’t Legalize Cannabis
It’s a political struggle as American as it gets: states’ rights versus federal rights. Federal law criminalizes cannabis, but an Obama-era policy suppressed the ability of federal prosecutors to pursue criminal charges in states that had decriminalized the substance. Such discouragement could be fleeting at best, however, and there’s already been indication that some in the Trump administration want to roll back those protections. Despite what states have decided, strong action by the federal government could make the status quo difficult to maintain.
2. State Protections Don’t Travel with You
Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions about cannabis laws is that they provide some far-reaching protection, which isn’t true and may never be true until federal law decriminalizes it. Colorado may have legalized recreational cannabis, but when you travel north to Wyoming, you’re now governed by the laws of that state and may be committing a criminal act. Even if you’re traveling from California to Oregon, which are two states to legalize recreational marijuana, you’re not necessarily in the clear. It’s still illegal federally, and moving that substance across state lines is an action overseen by federal law.
3. Cannabis Laws Include Possession Limits
Even states that allow recreational usage, such as Colorado and California, are very much focused on keeping control over trade and limiting these freedoms to personal consumption. Therefore, these laws generally have both purchase and possession limits. In many cases, indiscretions can be difficult to detect and enforce, but they can also be very easy to commit with little to no intent. Stores don’t have access to a unified database and can’t, for instance, block you because of a previous purchase that day.
4. Usage Limits Are Still Quite Strict
Even in states where cannabis laws are the laxest, usage laws are still quite strict. Public consumption is generally not permitted. California recently refused to carve out an exception that would allow cannabis clubs to operate, so bars and the like are off-limits as well. Generally, the only truly safe place to consume the substance is on residential property that you own or where you have received permission. Never assume privileges, and note that privileges cannot currently extend to federal land.