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Educational

Educational

What Happens If You Get Caught With Edibles?

By Andrew Ward

What Happens If You Get Caught With Edibles?

Despite legalization shifting the regulatory landscape in many parts of the country, prohibition still looms large in numerous places in America. As such, people continue to be arrested and face consequences for possessing minor, often legal, amounts of cannabis. 

But what happens if you get caught with edibles? 


The law can be relatively cut and dry with flower. While edibles are primarily subject to the same rules as flower, the ambiguity with non-infused foods and drinks makes the topic more complex.

Many factors will influence the consequences of getting caught with edibles and other cannabis products. Read on to learn more about the possible outcomes if caught in many everyday places and the specifics of possession laws in each state.


Laws Often Vary

Before diving in, it's essential to understand that a common theme in cannabis law is that the rules vary often. Regulations differ by federal, state, municipal, tribal, and international laws. Similarly, the consequences can range from severe punishment to arbitrary disciplinary actions determined by the officer in charge.


Below are several overviews of familiar places where people can get caught with edibles and the potential outcomes they may face. For a deeper understanding, be sure to learn about state laws, which can be found in a section down below.


Getting Caught with Edibles in a Car

Rules can vary to some degree depending on the jurisdiction. Still, most laws have zero tolerance for consumption and open containers in moving vehicles. In cannabis, an open container may refer to any packaging that has been unsealed and has some or all of its contents consumed. So, while it may be alluring to munch on some infused gummies on your drive, having a non-infused candy or other snack might be a better idea until you reach your destination.


States do allow for the legal transportation of cannabis, as long as the driver and passengers adhere to the rules. Often, these laws require products to be sealed and possibly stored in a locked glove compartment, trunk, or other car area unreachable to the driver and passengers.


Additional exceptions are often made for medical cannabis consumers and possibly their caretakers. In certain states, like Illinois, specific regulations have been laid out for medical and adult use consumers. 


Understanding the varying laws is vital, as one practice in State A can be legal. At the same time, it becomes illegal a few miles later when you cross into State B. Like the rules, the consequences differ as well. 


In some states, possession of cannabis in a vehicle may be seen as a minor penalty, considered a misdemeanor or lesser. In others, particularly where cannabis remains prohibited or semi-prohibited, the matter could become felonious.


Passengers should be equally aware of the laws. While they won't be charged with driving under the influence, passengers may be subject to open container laws, as consumption in a moving vehicle is typically banned. 


In any case, driving with edibles is a risky proposition that could result in a loss of edibles, substantial income, and potentially even your freedom [1]. 


Getting Caught with Edibles in a Plane or at the Airport

American airports operate in a confusing mix of local, state, and federal jurisdictions. Law enforcement often defers to federal rules and regulations. However, local law enforcement is usually involved.


As such, enforcement of cannabis and edible possession can be confusing, depending on where the infraction occurs and the willingness of the arresting officers. Technically, being caught with cannabis at the airport or in the air will see federal enforcement taking priority. However, talk to enough people who have encountered these instances at the airport. You'll likely hear varied examples, including many cases where officials confiscate the cannabis and release the person on their way. 


Airports have taken various approaches as state legalization increasingly conflicts with federal law. Colorado’s Denver International Airport bans cannabis on its grounds. Meanwhile, a select few, including Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, have installed amnesty boxes, allowing passengers to dispose of cannabis without consequence before reaching security. 


While it is no doubt easier to get through security with edibles than it is any other cannabis product, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can enforce federal laws if edibles are found in your luggage or personal belongings. Keep in mind that CBD products may also find themselves in the crosshairs, even if they adhere to federal regulations, which allow .3% THC in hemp products.


A few medical exceptions to the rule exist. Reports state that a medical cannabis card may grant some leeway to passengers, particularly if both states have legal medical markets. Another example includes when the arriving destination has medical cannabis reciprocity laws on the books. 


A few cannabis-derived medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), granting drugs like Epidiolex, Marinol, and Syndros legal access at airports and on planes. 


Keep in mind that while TSA's primary focus is on thwarting violence and terrorism, cannabis may still fall in the crosshairs from time to time. Edibles often aren't detected like a vape cartridge or cannabis flower might. However, with consequences ranging from federal enforcement to a slap on the wrist, be careful if you're willing to roll that dice [2].


Getting Caught with Edibles on State or Federal Land

Numerous state and federal properties ban cannabis even if the state has legalized it. Examples of federal land include: 

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands
  • Federal Buildings
  • Federal Courthouses 
  • Military Bases
  • National Forests and Grasslands
  • National Wildlife Refuges
  • Veterans Affairs (VA) Facilities

Being caught with edibles or other cannabis products on federal land can result in a range of consequences depending on several factors, including the amount of cannabis in possession, prior offenses, and other circumstances related to the specific case. 


For example, getting caught with edibles on a federal parkland may result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months and a fine of no more than $5,000. Service members caught with possession of cannabis on a military base may see a range of penalties, including a first-time misdemeanor charge or more severe penalties, including felony charges, pay forfeiture, confinement, and a dishonorable discharge [3] [4].


State rules can vary. Some exceptions may be made depending on the jurisdiction. Examples of state-owned land include:

  • State Parks 
  • Recreational Areas
  • State Government Buildings
  • Educational Institutions
  • Public Beaches 
  • Public Campgrounds

While you may find some leeway at the park or beach, government buildings could pose a greater criminal risk. However, the most significant risk would likely come from bringing cannabis on educational grounds, particularly any spaces where minors are taught. Students may face severe disciplinary measures, including expulsion, while adults and visitors will likely face stiff criminal penalties. 


Getting Caught with Edibles In College

College and university campuses may be the only educational grounds where possession penalties may be relaxed. However, many schools remain steadfast in their commitment to hand down stiff consequences for anyone caught possessing cannabis in any form. Many factors can influence the decision, including the college's location, the institution's policies, and whether the student or visitor has a medical card.


Students or anyone else looking to bring cannabis onto a college campus should be cautious. Getting caught can result in a warning or much more severe consequences, including expulsion and being banned from the campus. Criminal charges may also be applied.


Understanding Cannabis Possession Laws in America

Maybe one day, cannabis laws in America will be clear and concise. Unfortunately, that is not the case today.


America's piecemeal approach to cannabis legalization created a patchwork of regulatory variances, with state and federal laws often conflicting. If you plan on bringing edibles or any other cannabis products with you in public, be sure to have an understanding of the law.


As of December 2023, these are the laws regarding cannabis legality and possession in each US state [5]:

State

Legal Status

Decriminalized

Transportation

Growing

Prescription Requirement

THC Limit

Possession Penalties and Details

Alabama

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

Misdemeanor for personal use, up to 1 year in prison, $6,000 fine. Felony for other cases, 1-10 years in prison, up to $15,000 fine. Medical use restricted to non-smokable forms.

Alaska

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Adults 21+ can possess up to 1 ounce and six plants.

Arizona

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Adults 21+ can possess up to 1 ounce and cultivate up to six plants.

Arkansas

Medically legal

No

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Medical use allowed, recreational possession can lead to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

California

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 1 ounce for recreational use, six plants for cultivation.

Colorado

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Possession limit of 2 ounces, up to six plants for cultivation.

Connecticut

Fully legal

Yes

Limited

Limited

No

No

Up to 1.5 ounces in public and 5 ounces in private, cultivation allowed.

Delaware

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Illegal

No

No

Up to one ounce for personal possession, home cultivation is illegal.

Florida

Medically legal

No

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Non-medical possession over 20 grams can lead to a felony charge. Medical use allows up to 2.5 ounces for smoking.

Georgia

Medically legal

No

Legal with limitations

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

More than 1 ounce possession can lead to felony. CBD oil with less than 5% THC for medical use.

Hawaii

Medically legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Decriminalized possession; medical use allows 4 ounces of usable marijuana and seven plants.

Idaho

Prohibited

No

Illegal

Illegal

N/A

N/A

Possession of more than 3 ounces is a felony.

Illinois

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 30 grams of raw cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate for recreational use. Medical cannabis patients can grow up to 5 plants.

Indiana

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Limited medical conditions

Limited

CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC for certain epileptic conditions.

Iowa

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

Severe penalties for possession; medical cannabis oil with 4.5 grams of THC every 90 days for certain conditions.

Kansas

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

N/A

Limited

CBD products with 0% THC allowed, essentially illegal.

Kentucky

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

Medical marijuana program starts in 2025, non-smokable forms allowed.

Louisiana

Medically legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Illegal

Specific conditions

No

Medical program functional with strict limitations, non-smokable marijuana allowed for certain conditions.

Maine

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 2.5 ounces of possession and cultivation limits.

Maryland

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Limited

No

No

Up to 1.5 ounces of possession, home cultivation limited to two plants.

Massachusetts

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 1 ounce outside the home, 10 ounces inside, and six plants for cultivation.

Michigan

Fully legal

Yes

Legal

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 2.5 ounces outside the home, 10 ounces inside, and 12 plants for cultivation.

Minnesota

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 2 ounces of cannabis, 8 grams of concentrate, and home cultivation of up to 8 plants allowed.

Mississippi

Medically legal

Yes

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

Decriminalized small amounts; medical program allows 3.5 ounces of cannabis flower or 1 gram of concentrate per day with monthly limits.

Missouri

Fully legal

Yes

Limited

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 3 ounces of cannabis possession and cultivation limits for personal use.

Montana

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 1 ounce of possession, cultivation limits for personal use.

Nebraska

Prohibited

Yes

Illegal

Illegal

N/A

N/A

Possession of less than one pound is a misdemeanor.

Nevada

Fully legal

Yes

Legal

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to one ounce of marijuana or 3.5 grams of concentrate possession, home cultivation allowed under limitations.

New Hampshire

Medically legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Medical use allowed, possession decriminalized up to two ounces for certain conditions.

New Jersey

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Up to one ounce for recreational use, six ounces possession limit, no home cultivation for recreational users.

New Mexico

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Up to 2 ounces of flower, 16 grams of extract, and 800 mg of edibles for personal possession; home cultivation of up to 6 mature plants.

New York

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Up to 3 ounces of cannabis flower or 24 grams of concentrate; home cultivation allowed after 18 months from sales start, with limits.

North Carolina

Medically legal

Yes

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

CBD oil only for intractable epilepsy; partial decriminalization for small amounts.

North Dakota

Medically legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Medical program in place, decriminalized small amounts, combustible use limited to certain patients.

Ohio

Fully legal

Yes

Limited

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, 15 grams of concentrate, home cultivation up to 6 plants with household limit.

Oklahoma

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Medical use permitted with large program; recreational use initiative failed.

Oregon

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to two ounces in public or eight ounces at home, and four plants per household for cultivation.

Pennsylvania

Medically legal

No

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Medical cannabis available for specific conditions; decriminalization in some cities.

Rhode Island

Fully legal

Yes

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to 1 ounce of cannabis outside home, 10 ounces inside, and home cultivation of up to 6 plants allowed.

South Carolina

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

CBD oil with less than 0.9% THC for specific conditions, partial decriminalization for small amounts.

South Dakota

Medically legal

No

Legal with limitations

Legal with limitations

Specific conditions

No

Medical use allowed for certain conditions, recreational legalization efforts ongoing.

Tennessee

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

CBD oil with less than 0.9% THC for certain conditions, decriminalization efforts in some municipalities.

Texas

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

CBD oil with less than 1% THC for serious conditions, strict medical program.

Utah

Medically legal

No

Limited

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

Medical use for specific conditions, with "compassionate use" petitions allowed.

Vermont

Fully legal

Yes

Legal

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to one ounce of cannabis or 8,400 mg of THC in other products, two mature plants and four immature plants for cultivation.

Virginia

Fully legal

Yes

Legal

Legal with limitations

No

No

"Adult sharing" of up to 1 ounce, home-cultivation of up to 4 plants per household, public consumption prohibited.

Washington

Fully legal

Yes

Legal

Legal with limitations

No

No

Up to one ounce of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of edibles in solid form, and 72 ounces in liquid form, public consumption illegal.

West Virginia

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

No

Medical program allows non-smokable forms for certain conditions.

Wisconsin

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

CBD oil expanded for use, decriminalization in some cities, state law not decriminalized.

Wyoming

Medically legal

No

Illegal

Illegal

Specific conditions

Limited

CBD oil for intractable epilepsy, no legal access within the state, increased penalties considered in

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