Marijuana Legalization: The Nightmare of Traveling Between States
The pros and cons of marijuana legalization have been debated for decades, but only recent have moves been made to legalize or even just decriminalize marijuana in entire states within the United States. Those states that have gone the full legalization route, even if only for medical marijuana, have been touting outright improvements in areas that opponents had claimed would deteriorate.
For example, pot opponents had said that legalizing pot would lead to increased use among teens, but the opposite has happened. They warned that traffic fatalities would spike, but they have gone down. They said that teens should develop a calloused attitude about drug use, but all that has happened is that teens no longer see pot as the demon substance they were long told. But they still have a healthy respect for substances that cause real problems.
But not all states are seeing the light about marijuana legalization. It is the right of each state to decide for itself. But when people find themselves traveling between neighboring states or on even longer interstate travels, they may run afoul of laws different from their home state.
This was the case for B.J. Patel. Patel holds a medical marijuana card, with which he can legally buy marijuana in his home state of California. But Patel was driving a Uhaul from California to Ohio when he was pulled over by police in Oklahoma. The county deputy who stopped him noticed his medical marijuana card. He asked where Patel’s marijuana was, and Patel had indeed brought some with him, since it is his medicine.
In the end, Patel was arrested and now faces felony charges in Oklahoma fr something that is perfectly legal in the state where he lives.
Another example of this disparity is the state of Idaho. Idaho is surrounded on three sides by states with more lax marijuana laws. As a result of this difference, Idaho law enforcement has seized three times more marijuana so far in 2014 as they did in all of 2011.
That is the quandary of living in the United States: easy interstate travel, but vastly different laws.