Millions of Americans are still traveling this holiday season, despite the pandemic. Some of the latest data shows that COVID-19 is now responsible for more than 85,000 hospitalizations per day in the United States. Yet, nobody wants to miss turkey day or any other holiday festivity this year, so they are piling into planes, trains, and automobiles to get to their families, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that this might not be the best idea.
Many of them are under the impression that as long as they wear masks, load up on hand sanitizer and stay six feet away from others, they might escape unscathed. But none of these precautions will save them from going to jail if they happen to get caught with weed.
Although COVID is the apparent threat in 2020, so is getting busted for marijuana possession. Perhaps now more than ever. Sure, the herb is now legal in some form or fashion in more than half the nation, but that doesn’t mean the population can just transport it from this place to that all willy-nilly like without breaking the law.
And make no mistake about it — even with COVID being the primary concern this year, law enforcement agencies are still on the lookout for toking travelers during the holidays. There are more than 600,000 marijuana arrests made every year in the United States. So if you’re not careful, the coronavirus might be the least of your worries.
When traveling by air this holiday season, it is crucial to have a grip on the marijuana laws before even stepping foot inside the terminal. Although TSA agents have said time and again that they are not actively searching peoples’ luggage for marijuana, they will forward the situation to the local authorities if they find some.
This isn’t a huge deal if a person happens to get caught in LAX; marijuana is entirely legal in California. As long as the traveler is within the possession limit, the most that will happen is the pot will be seized and they might get delayed boarding their flight.
But if the same situation happens in a prohibition state — someplace like Indiana, Kentucky, or Georgia — the outcome will be more severe. Chances are the traveler will be arrested and charged with criminal marijuana possession. And no, they won’t get to eat Thanksgiving dinner before being carted off to jail. From there, they will undoubtedly face a wealth of legal woes that could potentially cost them thousands of dollars in legal fees and fines and perhaps even lead to more jail time.
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So be careful out there.
Still, traveling with marijuana by air is safer than doing it on the highways. Police are out in full force during the holiday season, looking for intoxicated drivers and those engaged in the unlawful transport of marijuana. It’s really only a problem for those traveling in and out of prohibition states. If a Denver resident is making the trip to Pueblo with a little herb, the cops cannot give them a hard time during a traffic stop as long as they are sober.
But the same cannot be said if a pot-toting Colorado resident travels into Kansas. First of all, crossing state lines in possession of marijuana is considered federal drug trafficking – an offense that comes with prison time and steep, steep fines. Secondly, police in prohibition states still aren’t keen on weed.
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In fact, officers will often find ways to search a person’s vehicle during a routine traffic stop just to see if there’s any marijuana or other illegal drugs. The legality of some of these tactics are questionable at best, especially in rural towns, but they still happen. The best advice for highway travelers this holiday season is to leave the weed at home. Maybe someone at your final destination can spot you. You just don’t want to give the cops any chance of ruining family time.
But if you must take weed along, travel with edibles (they don’t smell), keep your car clean, don’t smoke weed on the road, and obey the traffic codes. Never break more than one law at a time.