Marijuana laws are probably the last thing you want to think about when you visit the dispensary to pick up cannabis products that state law tells you that you can have. But, whether you are buying marijuana from recreational Denver dispensaries, or from a medical dispensary in Florida, you still should be aware of the laws in effect both in your state and at the federal level. Having a clear understanding of what the law allows and what it does not can protect you from unpleasant surprises.
Marijuana Remains Illegal at the Federal Level
Even as state after state legalizes medical and/or recreational marijuana, the federal government considers possession and sale a crime. While average personal users are unlikely to be prosecuted in most cases, that changes when you are on federal grounds such as a national park.
In addition to these factors, marijuana’s legal status can affect you in indirect ways, as well. For instance, many dispensaries only take cash because of the difficulty of getting bank accounts in businesses the federal government deems illegal. Before you head out to make a purchase, ensure that you have the necessary funds on hand.
Your School Can Ban Marijuana
Public colleges and universities aren’t just allowed to ban marijuana from campus. They are actually legally required to do so if they receive public funds. You can absolutely be banned from school housing or face other repercussions if you bring an illegal substance onto your campus.
While this may change if marijuana is legalized federally, it’s best to understand the potential risks of having pot on campus.
You should also be aware that certain drug convictions can stand between you and an education. People convicted of drug possession can lose their federal financial aid eligibility. A first-time conviction results in a year of ineligibility. The second time, you lose your eligibility for a year. Third conviction? You are barred from federal financial aid indefinitely.
You Can Possibly Be Fired from Your Job Over Pot
Whether you can be fired for legal marijuana use depends largely on what state you are in. Many states with medical marijuana laws protect employees from being punished at work for off-duty marijuana use. In states with these laws, employees cannot be fired solely on the basis of a positive drug test.
However, even in states that protect medical marijuana use off the clock, you can still be fired for using on the job. Additionally, some jobs come with federal prohibitions against marijuana use because of licensing.
If you are considering a medical marijuana card, find out what protections you have under the laws in your state. This can help you understand your risk factors and what might happen at work if you pursue this therapy on your own time.
Unlicensed Sales Are Still Illegal
Even in states with full recreational marijuana, you can still be arrested for sale or possession of pot. Why? Because, in most states, marijuana can only be legally sold in licensed dispensaries.
Most states also have possession limits that must be adhered to. Laws vary by region, but most permit for adults to possess about an ounce on their person.
And, you can still be arrested for using marijuana in places where you are not allowed to. Most states’ laws do not allow you to toke up in public, for instance. Make sure that you are in a private place where you are allowed to light up before you indulge.
You Can’t Take It with You
Crossing state lines for a vacation? You may want to leave your cannabis stash at home. Most states explicitly ban carrying marijuana in from other states, even if cannabis is legal in both states.
Medical marijuana patients are permitted to use their medical licenses in some states, but not in others. Before traveling, find out what you are allowed to carry, and whether you are allowed to acquire a temporary medical license when you travel.
The laws around marijuana are evolving on a nearly constant basis. It can take a bit of research to confirm what is allowed when you visit a new state or when the laws change in your own state.
By taking the time to learn what you can do, and what you can’t, you can avoid confusion. Knowing the law can help you stay within it, and cut your risk of unwanted encounters with law enforcement.