Colorado and Washington were among the first to legalize recreational marijuana, then came Alaska, Oregon, Vermont, and Illinois. As of 2020, adults can legally light up in 12 states, so long as they're not on someone else's private property, in a moving car, or in a national park. Just because the use of cannabis is no longer prohibited in certain parts of the country doesn't mean you're allowed to drive while under the influence of it or carry your stash from state to state on a road trip. Legal, recreational marijuana presents a tricky situation for RVers as the substance is still federally illegal in the United States. You should know your rights before hitting the road with your favorite strain.
Traveling With Marijuana in States Where It's Legal
If your road trip happens to lead you into a state or jurisdiction where recreational marijuana is legal, you might be inclined to partake in the activity. Make sure you research the state's rules before bringing the green into your caravan.
In general, marijuana should be treated similarly to alcohol within a moving vehicle. It should never be opened, consumed, or even handled while in motion, and that goes for the driver and passengers. Driving under the influence of weed will have the same consequences as driving under the influence of alcohol. Many states require marijuana to be stored in childproof containers with specific seals.
It's best to keep marijuana or products containing THC in the container they were purchased in and store it away from the driver’s area, such as in a back cabinet. If you happen to get pulled over by the police and the officer sees a suspicious container, you can count on being questioned further, regardless of the state's stance on the subject.
You must be 21 to purchase and carry marijuana, you must have no more than the legal amount of said state (usually it's about an ounce, or more for concentrates), and you must follow any other guidelines and laws that pertain to that state. If you have questions about the local rules, ask the budtender when purchasing your products.
Consuming Marijuana Where It's Legal
Again, state laws vary, but marijuana, like alcohol, should generally only be consumed in a private setting. Even where it's legal, many RV parks and state parks still forbid its use (often because they're federally regulated, and federal law trumps state law). Always read through the campground rules ahead of time, and if consuming marijuana is important to you, consider narrowing your search for accommodation down to cannabis-friendly campgrounds only, which abound in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Consuming marijuana on private property where it isn't allowed can result in steep fines despite state laws, and you may find yourself banned from campgrounds in the future if you're caught violating the rules.
Traveling Across State Lines With Marijuana
You should never transport marijuana or marijuana-related products outside of the state in which they were purchased. Not only can you be cited for possession (a misdemeanor that could warrant a year in jail and a $1,000 fine), but you could also face more serious charges of drug trafficking (a felony that could warrant five years of prison time and a $250,000 fine). Traveling across state borders—even in the case of traveling between two legal states, like Oregon and Washington—is punishable by state and federal law. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park rangers have the authority to arrest you for possession. Attempting to cross the border into Canada, where cannabis is legal, from the U.S. (even if it's from a legal state) with any marijuana-related product will likely result in denied admission, seizure, fines, or apprehension.
RV and National Parks
National parks and National Park Service areas are considered federal land. Possession, consumption, or distribution of marijuana on national park property is illegal and can result in a misdemeanor, even in pot-friendly states. Many RV parks and campgrounds don't allow marijuana either, and they're allowed to kick you out for even having it on your person.