There are so many reasons people are choosing to travel or live in motorhomes these days. Whether you want to explore the country during college break or during your retirement, there are advantages to RVing that everyone can appreciate.
If you’re thinking about going on a vanlife medical marijuana adventure, you might be wondering what you need to know before setting out. Here’s a quick run-through of some info on vanlife and MMJ that can help you get started.
The rules of vanlife
First, it’s important to note that the rules surrounding the usage of cannabis and transportation don’t differ too much between a short trip and residing in a motorhome. So, technically, the same rules apply to MMJ and full-time RV living as they do for quick trips around your state.
With that point in mind, here are some suggestions around MMJ and vanlife that can be helpful to remember (including your rights as a traveler).
Do your research
The most critical aspect of your travels will be to know the state’s laws wherever you’re traveling. Even with a valid MMJ card, there are certain limitations to how much cannabis you can legally carry at any time. Because these differ by state, you’ll want to make sure you know the limits in every place you’re traveling to.
Pay attention to state boundaries
On the same point, you should always note when you’ve crossed the border into another state so that you’re aware of the specific laws in that state. Generally, it’s not recommended to cross state lines with marijuana in your RV because this does violate federal law. In fact, if you transport MMJ products outside of the state where they were purchased, you could be cited for possession (which is a misdemeanor and could earn you up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine).
In some extreme cases, transporting marijuana over state borders could even get you a drug trafficking charge (up to five years of prison time and/or a $250,000 fine!). If possible, stick to one state while you possess MMJ or wait until you’re in a new state before purchasing more product.
Only carry as much MMJ as you need for your trip
One way to be a little more careful is to only bring with you as much product as you’ll need for the duration of your trip. Carrying large quantities may make you seem suspicious to law enforcement if your vehicle is stopped and searched.
Never open or consume MMJ while the vehicle is in motion
It’s a good idea to think of MMJ products in the same way you would alcohol. You can receive a DUI if you’re found to be impaired while operating a vehicle, especially a large one like a campervan or RV.
Neither drivers nor passengers should be using cannabis products (even if they’re prescribed) unless you’re parked somewhere where it’s legal to imbibe. Never do so on the open road!
Store your MMJ products responsibly
Always keep your products stored as far away from the driver’s seat as possible – for example, in a back cabinet. If you’re pulled over, you don’t want to give law enforcement any reason to think you’ve been dosing while driving.
Some states even require marijuana to be stored in childproof containers with specific seals that make them more difficult to open. Check the regulations for the specific state you’ll be traveling in to make sure you’re handling and storing your products legally.
Be extremely careful about where you park your vehicle
If you’re going to be bringing your MMJ products on the road with you, it’s absolutely critical that you research where you’ll be parking your RV and what the location’s regulations are surrounding cannabis possession. Even if it’s for medical purposes, it is still illegal to possess or consume cannabis on any federal land – this includes national parks and National Park Service areas.
Even in states where recreational marijuana is legal (such as California or Colorado), you are still prohibited from having cannabis in these areas of federal land. Getting caught with MMJ in one of these places could result in you being charged with a misdemeanor, fined, or even banned from the parks.
On the same note, many RV parks and campgrounds don’t permit marijuana usage either; they are allowed to kick you out if they find you have these products. So, do thorough research ahead of time on any place you’ll be stopping, whether it’s to rest for a while or to stay overnight.
One other note: try to consume your MMJ discreetly, so you’re less likely to draw attention from authorities or other campers. (Edibles can be a great way to stay under the radar with your MMJ usage!)
Carry your MMJ card and a doctor’s note with you to show to authorities
Don’t forget to bring your valid MMJ card with you on the road so that you can present it if you’re questioned by law enforcement or park staff. To err on the side of caution, you might also want to consider bringing a note from your doctor that explains your health condition and your need for MMJ products. This step might help in case you need to explain to authorities why you have cannabis products in your RV.
If you don’t already have this type of documentation, applying for an MMJ card can be a great idea if you’re a van dweller. If you don’t have a home residence, you can try applying for a card in the state you’re residing in currently, or one in which your driver’s license or identification has been issued.
It just takes a medical certification and letter from a licensed doctor (or you can go through MMJRecs) to show that you have a physical or emotional condition with symptoms that can be alleviated through the use of MMJ. The application process can typically be done online through each state’s particular MMJ governing board. Once you have your MMJ card in hand, you’ll have added benefits such as being allowed to possess more product, receiving possible discounts on sales tax, etc.
Make sure to do as much research as possible before you begin your trip so that you can be prepared to follow the laws wherever your journey takes you. As long as you’re a responsible vanlife MMJ user, you’ll be able to use your MMJ products without any problems!
Featured image by Hanson Lu on Unsplash