New York has relaxed its laws about marijuana at the same time that many other states have taken much more drastic steps to reform marijuana policy. Given that New York does not have a legal market for marijuana, which means that you can’t just order a delivery service or stop into a dispensary, you may feel inclined to bring back some very potent weed from a vacation to Canada or Boston.
Unfortunately, traveling across international or state borders with marijuana in a car or plane, even if it was legal where you bought it, puts you at risk for criminal charges. Not only could you face state charges for possession, but you could potentially face federal charges if you get caught in your vehicle or at the airport attempting to cross the border or after you have done so.
Federal law trumps state law when it comes to drug policy
While buying marijuana may not have been illegal in Canada or Massachusetts and possessing a small amount of it is now a civil infraction in New York, transporting it from a legal location to New York is a crime.
You will not be able to plead in court about the legality of marijuana in a location where you bought it. The focus of federal prosecutors will likely be about the interstate or international movement of the drugs. In other words, if you incorporate legal marijuana into your vacation plans, you shouldn’t plan to bring any home as a souvenir for yourself or anyone else.
Those who do get caught traveling with marijuana, especially those who might face federal charges, will want to look carefully at their options for defending themselves given how harsh federal drug sentencing guidelines often are.