By Seth MacKenzie
It’s never too early to start thinking about your summer road trip and something that you need to keep in mind is that, while some states are cool with the Devils Lettuce, other states will still throw your ass in jail over a gram. I know how confusing this can get but fear not, I “sobered up” enough to help you figure out where you’ll be cool and where you need to avoid while traveling.
Now, instead of trying to do this alphabetically, we’re going to rank the states from the harshest to the most chill. Just remember, even if you’re in a state that’s cool, show some respect. Even in a place like Washington, you can still get a ticket for blazing in public (not like it stops me) and if you’re a dick, the cops will find a reason to arrest you, shocking I know.
The following covers the basic laws and penalties for a personal stash of under an ounce. If you’re driving with weight, you need to talk to a lawyer and not depend on a cooking website for legal advice.
Here are the Harshest:
Alabama: No recreational, no medical. Anything they deem isn’t for “Personal use” is a felony landing your ass in Prison for at least a year. Guess I won’t be visiting Muscle Shoals…..
Arizona: Everything is a felony, stay the hell out if you like smoking weed.
Arkansas: I lived down here for a while and got my first arrest. Not a big deal other than the fact that everything after your first arrest is automatically a felony.
Illinois: Out of everywhere I’ve ever lived, this was the hardest place to score good weed. I’m sure that Chicago has it’s good side but I never saw its charm. At least it’s not…
Indiana: Where everything is a misdemeanor. Ironically I’ve gone from Chicago to Indiana to score weed from Colorado. Pro tip: If you’re traveling west from Indiana to Illinois, you can time it so that you can hit two 4:20’s because of the time zone change.
North Dakota: While it might have some trippy vistas, possession of any amount has the potential to get you locked up.
Pennsylvania: Despite being a lifelong Steelers fan, this state is not 420 friendly since any amount is a misdemeanor and has the chance of jail time.
South Carolina: Any amount can land you in jail with a misdemeanor. No thanks.
South Dakota: The Badlands are a bad place to get busted, just like it’s sister up north. Any amount has the chance of landing you in jail for a year.
Tennessee: Once again, any amount has the potential to land you in jail. But if you like whiskey it’s alright I guess.
Texas: Despite the fact that I’ve lived and traveled all over, and that my Old Man was born and raised in Houston, I’m too scared to set foot in the state. Any amount has the chance of jail time, so unless Willy invites me to a BBQ, I doubt I’ll ever visit.
Utah: I drove through once on my way to Cali, right after I got busted in Nebraska (see below) and the place gave me the creeps. That being said, these folks do not like cannabis and can put you in jail for even small amounts.
Virginia: My home state and the ass-backward weed laws are part of why I left. Progressive thinking is not one of this states strong points.
West Virginia: Sucks just as much as Virginia but Route 60 is one hell of a drive if you have the time.
Wisconsin: Any amount can land you in jail. I’ll have my cheese shipped thank you.
Wyoming: Even being high has the chance of landing you in jail. By far the worst on the list.
These places ain’t too bad:
Connecticut: As long as you’ve only got a half ounce or less, it’s not a major deal but anything more than that, and you’ll have issues.
Delaware: Like Connecticut, you’re fine with a small amount, but anything over an ounce will be a problem.
Oklahoma: Hell no, any amount can land you in jail. Ironically when I lived in Arkansas, we would have to travel to Oklahoma to go to the nearest head shop.
Florida: While they have made progress, they still have a long way to go. Anything over 20 grams (less than an ounce) is a felony.
Georgia: Since anything under an ounce is a misdemeanor, it’s not the worst place in the world. If you’re going south to Florida, burn a few phatties to get your stash to less than 20 grams before you cross the border.
Idaho: All due respect to the fine residents of the state but is it a destination? Either way, anything under 3 ounces in a misdemeanor.
Iowa: I was surprised to find out this state is a bit cooler than I thought with even multiple possession charges coming in as a misdemeanor and repeat offenders are sent to rehab.
Kansas: Another state that did better than I thought since possession of anything under 450 grams (roughly a pound) is a misdemeanor.
Kentucky: One of the most underrated states, I also called this place home a decade ago, and while it was hard to find good weed, anything under a half a pound is a misdemeanor.
Maryland: Anything under 10 grams is a civil offense, and anything less than 50 pounds is a misdemeanor.
Massachusetts: You can get away with anything under an ounce, so you’re fine with your personal stash.
Mississippi: Your personal stash of under an ounce is a misdemeanor, and if it’s your first offense it’s only a $250 fine.
Michigan: This state was almost cool since most of the time possession is a misdemeanor, but for some reason, you can get charged with a felony if you get popped in a park. Odd, but something to be aware of.
Minnesota: Under an ounce is a misdemeanor, over is a felony. All in all, I don’t get a good vibe despite Minneapolis being one of my favorite cities.
Missouri: Let’s go three for three, anything under an ounce is a misdemeanor.
Montana: In the Big Sky State you can get away with 2 ounces, and it’s still a misdemeanor. Plus they have some killer weed as odd as it sounds. Just be careful if you’re going to Yellowstone since, as I know from experience, it’s automatically a felony.
New Jersey: What the fuck is a “Disorderly person”? Well, that and a $1,000 fine is what you’re looking at for possession in the garden state.
New Mexico: Everything under 8 ounces is a misdemeanor. Insert obligatory Breaking Bad reference.
North Carolina: While anything under a half an ounce won’t land you in jail, it will cost you. Over half an ounce and you might need a lawyer.
Ohio: A lot more lax than the surrounding states, you can have 100 grams and only get a $200 ticket and a misdemeanor charge.
These places are cool:
Alaska: I spent some time up there before it became legal and for the most part, people seemed chill. Now that it’s legal, you can really enjoy some of the most epic scenery anywhere in the world. I’ll be going back at some point to enjoy some Northern Lights while enjoying the Northern Lights.
California: Respect to the state that paved the way with medical yet slacked off with recreational. All in all, most cops have much bigger things to worry about as long as you’re not being too stupid. I lived in Oakland from ’03-05; the scene was great then, and it’s only gotten better
Colorado: Fuck the theme parks, this is the happiest place on earth for catching a buzz. They really do not give a fuck, in fact, you can stay at weed-friendly hotels, enjoy a bud infused meal, you name it. The only downside is it’s cold in the winter.
D.C.: Another place that has much bigger issues than stoners thus, they legalized it and things have been a little cooler in an otherwise hostile place.
Hawaii: Another place near and dear to my heart, Hawaii makes it on the list despite cannabis not being legal. The reason is that while you can still go to jail for a bit, anything under a pound is still a misdemeanor. Plus it’s Hawaii, damn near everyone grows.
Louisiana: Just like with Hawaii, it’s still not legal, but the laws regarding simple possession are pretty lax for the deep south.
Maine: It’s cold and scary in the winter, but now that weed is legal for recreational use, things just got a lot more comfy.
Nebraska: I got busted here as well and, partly due to the fact that I was cool with the cop, was let off with a ticket that I still need to pay, almost ten years later.
Nevada: One reason I’ve never set foot in Vegas is that I know for a fact I’ll end up in Jail. Just because weed is now legal doesn’t change this fact. But by all means, go gamble, get high, get a hooker, and have fun.
New Hampshire: Anything up to three-quarters of an ounce is a civil infraction.
New York: While it’s not legal, your personal stash of under an ounce is only punishable with a fine unless it’s your third offense and even then, it’s not the end of the world.
Oregon: Once again proving that the West Coast is the best coast, it’s legal here, so you’re cool unless you’re caught driving high (see below).
Rhode Island: Tiny, yet tolerant of your personal stash, an ounce or under is a civil infraction.
Vermont: Bernie is from here, so you know this place has to be chill. Your personal stash is only a civil offense that carries a small fine. Plus… maple syrup.
Washington: The only thing higher than the people of Seattle is the rent we pay to live here. That being said, we still have a long way to go in terms of places you can consume and being able to grow at home. Despite the reputation of it being cold and rainy all the time, the summers are epic and we don’t have mosquitos.
Over the years I’ve had more than my fair share of interactions with various law enforcement agencies and one thing that I’ve learned is that a little respect goes a long way with 90% of them. If you’re cool with them then most of the time they will be cool with you.
If you get pulled over, have your shit together when the officer approaches. Be polite, address them with a smile and don’t piss them off. At the same time, don’t talk any more than you have to since being too nice makes you look suspicious. Honestly, play stupid. As long as you don’t present a threat to them, most cops won’t fuck with you too much.
On the chance that they ask to search your car, there are way too many variables for me to advise you on what to do about that. Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes you don’t have to. It depends on the state, the cop, you and how much hassle you want to deal with.
Stash your stash dumbass:
Chances are if you’re going on a serious road trip, you’re going to being passing through hostile territory. Be smart about it and keep your stuff stashed in an airtight container in your glove box and make sure it’s locked. Keep your car registration and your insurance paperwork in your sun visor. This way you don’t have to open anything or search for anything and there’s no reason to open your glove box.
While most “air fresheners” don’t do shit, I have found that a product called Ozium works really well for killing the smell without drawing attention to itself making it obvious.
When it’s time to get stoned, do it somewhere away from the car and other people. Keep your weed, your bowl, all your gear in one handy place, so you don’t lose anything, and you can keep the smell to a minimum.
The simple fact that yu’re semi-young and have out of state plates automatically puts a target on your head in a lot of places. The cops know that it’s a much bigger pain in the ass for you to fight in court. Yes, I’m a liberal and I’m a music fan, but I sure as fuck don’t want to draw attention to myself on the road. Save you bumper stickers for Facebook and do everything you can to blend in with your surroundings.
Always take the road less traveled:
We live in a big strange place full of weird and beautiful people and vistas. If you have the chance to embark on a summer road trip, take the time to enjoy it. Stay off the interstates and travel the backroads. Don’t eat at familiar chains, take the chance on the local Mom and Pop place the locals told you about. Let yourself have the freedom to roam with an open mind.