Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states across the nation. Some of these programs, which give registered patients the freedom to purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries, cover all sorts of health conditions ranging from anxiety to chronic pain. Others are a little more restrictive, making weed available only to those who suffer from severe afflictions.
But if there is one thing that medical marijuana laws have in common, it’s that they require users to follow a list of rules in order to stay out of trouble with the law. One of those rules is keeping medicinal cannabis in its original packaging while it is being transported from one place to another.
Medical marijuana products come in special containers that indicate that the weed was purchased legally from a licensed dispensary. When a patient leaves a pot shop with their “medicine,” the law in most parts of the country where these programs are legal requires that it be transported home in its original packaging. That way, should police pull them over for whatever reason, they are not suspected of having illegal drugs. Because even though marijuana is legal in several states for medicinal use, it is still illegal in some of these areas for any other reason. Therefore, without the proper pot packaging, cops have every authority to drag a patient to jail.
Some patients are under the impression that as long as they have a medical marijuana card or doctor’s recommendation that they have a license from the state to do anything they want when it comes to weed. Some of them are even allegedly buying their cannabis from black market sources, only to end up confused when the cops start reading them their rights. In places like Ohio, where medical marijuana is legal for severe conditions, patients have been transporting weed in bags and jars, according to reports. It doesn’t end well either when they are stopped by the police.
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In one instance, a 23-year-old man was stopped for a minor traffic violation. It was then that police spotted several bags and jars of marijuana riding shotgun. Of course, the man explained to officers that he was a medical marijuana patient, he just didn’t have the proper identification on him at the time.
It was later discovered that the man wasn’t lying. He did, in fact, have a legal, medical marijuana recommendation that allowed him to have a certain amount of weed in Ohio. The only problem was that since he wasn’t transporting the cannabis in its original packaging, the law still considers him a criminal.
Although the report did not specify whether the man was actually charged with a crime, he certainly could have been.
Assuming that there were no more than 100 grams of weed in those jars and bags, this medical marijuana patient could be facing a misdemeanor possession charge. That’s an offense punishable with a small fine, so it’s not the end of the world or anything. But if there were more than 100 grams in those containers, he could be sentenced to a short stint in jail and receive and even more significant fine.
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All of this trouble simply because he insisted on traveling with marijuana that wasn’t properly packaged. The situation could have been worse, too, if he lived in a state with harsher pot laws. In Arkansas, for example, the same offense could have resulted in a felony possession charge, which comes with the potential for several years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
It is essential for medical marijuana patients to have a clear understanding of their respective state’s pot laws. But to be safe, always keep your medicine in its original packaging. Always. And be fully prepared to show police legitimate proof that you are a registered participant in the state’s medical marijuana program. Otherwise, there might be some gnarly legal troubles coming your way.