Americans Continue to Cross State Lines to Buy Cannabis

In the 1977 classic car chase movie “Smokey and the Bandit,” a pair of outlaws cross state lines to deliver Coors beer to Atlanta from Texarkana, Texas. That’s because, back in the 1970s, people couldn’t ship Coors east of the Mississippi.

That law seems strange to people today. It’s likely the way people of the future will see the current state of marijuana legalization in America. It’s led to law-abiding citizens having to cross state lines to buy cannabis.

While 19 states have legalized cannabis for recreational use and 36 have done so for medical use, many states have done neither. So while about a third of the country now lives where adult-use marijuana is legal, millions more do not. Americans have decided to take the issue into their own hands.

The latest example comes from Michigan, which has legal recreational and medical marijuana. Just down the interstate in Indiana, possession of any amount of marijuana remains legal. But that’s not stopping Indiana residents from taking a road trip.

“I want to say about 60% of the people that we see are coming from Indiana,” a manager of a dispensary in Coldwater, Michigan, told CBS 15 in Fort Wayne.

Hoosiers Stay Legal If They Don’t Bring it Home

Is crossing state lines to buy cannabis legal? Apparently so, with two main considerations. One is that using cannabis and driving is illegal everywhere. The second is that Hoosiers – as Indiana state residents are nicknamed – aren’t breaking the law if they don’t bring it back to Indiana.

That’s because Michigan allows possession of up to 2.5 ounces of the drug and 15 grams of concentrated marijuana. But if they cross state lines with their cannabis purchases, they face up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine back home in Indiana.

Britany Martin, general manager of Consume Cannabis in Quincy, Michigan, told CBS 15 that half her customers are also Hoosiers. She said they often try to buy the “maximum amount they can.”

She said: “They’re like, “You know, it’s so hush hush where I’m from in Indiana.’ I’m like,  ‘You know what, well, welcome to the green side of things.’”

This Is Happening Across the Country

The current patchwork quilt of marijuana laws is leading people to cross state lines to buy cannabis, which is legal as long as they don’t bring it back home. But common sense indicates not everyone is going to adhere to that rule.

This is one of the arguments for making marijuana legal at the federal level. Why make someone a criminal for doing something that another American a few miles down the interstate can do?

In Oregon, it’s such a big issue that an official with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis issued a report on it. According to data from the state, sales at Oregon dispensaries are 420 percent higher along the border with Idaho (yes, the report noted the coincidence of the number being “420”).

With marijuana illegal in Idaho, residents there, much like the ones in Indiana, have decided to make road trips across the border. Other reports have indicated that Ohio residents are doing the same, driving into Michigan.

For dispensary owners and local businesses in Oregon and Michigan, it’s a good deal. People who come from other states often get hotel rooms and spend at local restaurants. Until federal legalization happens, states like Oregon and Michigan will benefit, while states like Idaho and Indiana will lose out.

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