Basic US laws for recreational marijuana

Since 2014, it has been possible for adults to legally purchase recreational marijuana (cannabis) in several states in the US. Air travelers who plan to visit areas where such purchases are legal will be allowed to purchase recreational marijuana, even if they are not residents of those states, or even US citizens.

While there are a number laws and restrictions that must be observed in each state, many of the laws and restrictions can be boiled down to the following points:

  • Age limits for possession or purchase: Adults 21 and older can possess recreational marijuana in those states where this is legal. Vendors of recreational marijuana will require that the buyer provide proof of age, and the kinds of ID that are acceptable by the TSA would very likely provide acceptable proof of age.
  • Maximum possession and purchase amounts: In the US states and other areas where possession of recreational marijuana has been legalized, there are limits to how much an individual can purchase at one time, and the total amount that someone can possess. Typically, the maximum that someone can purchase at one time is one ounce (28.3 grams) or less of dried marijuana leaves suitable for smoking. There may be different limits for edibles and other types of marijuana products.
  • Limited retail locations: In states and locations that allow the purchase of recreational marijuana, this can typically happen only at authorized retail establishments. Depending on the location, the same location may be able to sell both medical and recreational marijuana. Individual communities may choose to ban the sale of recreational marijuana, so it is possible that some cities or towns may have no retail outlets for marijuana.
  • Resale by individuals not allowed: While you are free to give away recreational marijuana to other adults aged 21 and over, you may not resell marijuana products that you purchase. In states or other jurisdictions that allow the possession, but not the sale, of recreational marijuana, no sales of any kind are allowed.
  • Restrictions on where you can consume: It is typically illegal to consume marijuana openly and publicly. Also, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses open to the public may restrict or ban the consumption of marijuana.
  • Driving under the influence: It is illegal to drive while consuming marijuana. As is the case with driving under the influence of alcohol, a state allow you to drive with low levels of marijuana in your system.
  • Restrictions on federal property: It is illegal to possess, use, or transport marijuana in any form on property controlled by the federal government, including, but not limited to, military bases, post offices, national parks, national forests, or in privately owned or operated facilities which may be located on federal property.
  • Travel across state borders: If you are in a state that allows you to either possess or purchase marijuana, it is illegal to carry that marijuana outside of that state.
  • Limitations at airports: Marijuana in any form is not allowed in the secure areas of the airport (the areas beyond the TSA screening areas). That also means you can't have marijuana with you on the plane, either in carry-on bags, checked luggage, or shipped as cargo. Even if possession of marijuana is allowed in a particular state, the airport authority or the relevant state or local government may limit possession and use of marijuana in any part of the airport.

Other marijuana resources

Basic US laws for recreational marijuana -- Revised 20 December 2017