International visitors to the US and marijuana
While it is possible for visitors to the US who are not US citizens to legally purchase, possess, or consume marijuana (cannabis) while in some US states, it is not legal to enter or leave the country with marijuana or marijuana-related materials.
What visitors to the US should know
If you are entering the US for the purpose of legally purchasing or consuming marijuana, you should be aware of the following:
- Marijuana is illegal under federal law: Federal laws ban the possession, use or transport of marijuana in areas or activities that are under federal control, travel across state or national borders, the postal system, military bases, and national parks. Also, non-US citizens who admit that their planned activities in the US includes purchasing or consuming marijuana may be denied entry into the US, or even barred from entering the US at a later date.
- Marijuana is legal only in some states: Not all US states allow the purchase, possession or use of marijuana. Even in those states where marijuana is legal, it is still not legal to possess or use marijuana in areas under federal control such as military bases and national parks.
- Marijuana can't be legally transported across the US border: Crossing the US border while in possession of any amount of marijuana is a violation under federal law. If you do so, your items will be seized and you will be subject to fines, penalties, and possible arrest.
- Marijuana-related items are not allowed to enter the country: Items that are intended to be used when consuming drugs, for example marijuana pipes, can't be brought into the US. If you do so, your items will be seized and you will be subject to fines, penalties, and possible arrest.
- Marijuana is not allowed on aircraft: Marijuana is not allowed to be flown on an aircraft. That includes airliners as well as privately owned aircraft, and on either domestic or international flights.
- Marijuana is not allowed to cross state borders: The US government prohibits marijuana from crossing any state border. This means that any marijuana purchased in a state can only be consumed in that state, and any marijuana that is not consumed must stay within that state.
- Visitors to the US must pass through customs: All visitors to the US may be questioned and may have their possessions searched when entering or leaving the US.
- Violators may be prevented from entering the US: If you not a US citizen and are found to be in violation of federal marijuana laws, or even if it is suspected that you plan to purchase, posses, or consume marijuana, you may be turned away at the border (or other point of entry such as an airport), and you may also be prevented from entering the US in the future.
US laws and law enforcement
You should be aware of the following realities and organizations when it comes to US laws and restrictions related to marijuana.
Federal laws and state laws - In the US, there are a complex set of laws and traditions that determine what laws are enforced and what part of the government enforces those laws. In general, federal laws apply throughout the US, and state law applies only to that particular state.
When state laws are in conflict with US laws, the federal laws will usually be the ones that are enforced. Marijuana is an exception in that it is illegal at a national level, but legal in some states.
Federal laws and marijuana
There are some activities and areas that are controlled by federal laws and not by state laws, and in those areas the federal government has completely banned marijuana. Key areas and activities include the following:
- Airline travel: Marijuana is not allowed on an airliner, or in the secure portion of an airport.
- Border crossings: Marijuana and marijuana-related products are not allowed to enter or leave the US through any port of entry at an airport, seaport, or land border.
- National parks: Marijuana possession or use is not allowed in any national park.
- Postal system: Marijuana can't be mailed using the US Postal Service, or private shipping companies such as UPS or FedEx.
- Other federal property: Marijuana is banned from military bases, embassies, federal buildings such as courthouses, and any other federal property.
Traveling to the US from Canada
It is legal to purchase and consume recreational marijuana in Canada, but it is not legal to travel from Canada to the US with marijuana. Travelers from Canada to the US should be aware of the following issues that may come up when entering the US:
- Export from Canada is not allowed: Canadian laws do not permit travelers to exit Canada with marijuana, even to a country or US state that allows the possession or use of marijuana.
- Import into the US is not allowed: While some US states allow the purchase and consumption of marijuana, entry into the US is controlled by US federal laws, and since recreational and medicinal marijuana is illegal at the federal level, travelers are not allowed to bring marijuana of any kind into the US.
- No exception for medical marijuana: US customs and border officials treat medical marijuana, even when legally prescribed in Canada, the same as recreational marijuana in that it is not allowed into the US.
- Marijuana-related items may be barred: Non-US citizens may have marijuana-related accessories or marijuana-themed items (such as clothing or souvenirs) confiscated at the border.
- Mailing is not an option: While marijuana can be mailed domestically in Canada, it is not legal to mail it, or to use any delivery service like UPS and FedEx, to send marijuana from Canada to the US.
- You may be turned away at the border: Non-US citizens who admit to having purchased or consumed marijuana while in Canada may be considered inadmissible and denied entry into the US.
Traveling to Canada from the US
When leaving the US by air, air travelers must be screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) before reaching their departure gate, which is in the secure area of the airport terminal. TSA does not allow marijuana of any kind into the secure area of the airport terminal. This is true even in airports that are in states where adults are able to legally possess or consume marijuana. TSA is not a law enforcement agency, and if their screeners discover marijuana or marijuana-related items, they may contact local law enforcement representatives at the airport.
When entering Canada, either by land or by air, travelers are not allowed to bring marijuana into Canada, even when entering Canada from US states that allow the legal possession or use of marijuana.
Other marijuana resources
- Air travel restrictions
- International visitors to the US
- International visitors to Canada
- Advice for the novice user
- Marijuana vocabulary
- Basic marijuana laws
- How to buy marijuana
- Edible marijuana
- Avoidable risks
- Air travel FAQs
- Prohibited items
http://airsafe.com/issues/marijuana/us-customs.htm -- Revised 2 December 2018