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Weed Traveling with cannabis, what are the risks?

The first state to legalize the therapeutic use of cannabis in 1996, California responded 20 years later by legalizing, this time, its recreational use. A lucrative market, estimated at around 7 billion dollars (for the State of California alone), which today allows residents and tourists alike to freely buy their weed (on presentation of an identity document), and even to have it delivered to your home.

Faced with the enthusiasm aroused by the liberalization of the market, Sophie Cilpa, international lawyer, specialist in Franco-American legal issues, and Pierre Hourcade, lawyer at the bars of Paris, New York and California, both partners in the firm Action Avocat , take stock of the risks incurred by the French who would like to travel joints, seeds or candies infused with cannabis.

Bringing cannabis back to France

The message is clear. ” Traveling from the United States, and in particular from California, to France with cannabis, whatever its form – joint, candy, oil – means, more or less, exporting narcotics, explain the lawyers, insofar as the transported product actually consists of a form or composition prohibited by the legislation in force in France. In this case, the person holding the said products would fall under the provisions of articles 222-34 and following of the penal code. »

A prohibition that must nevertheless be qualified, with regard to the composition of the transported product. Indeed, cannabis contains several chemical substances, cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a molecule renowned for its psychotropic effects considered today as a drug prohibited for sale, and CBD (cannabidiol) which has no effect. negative on health, and therefore authorized for consumption and transport as long as it does not exceed a certain concentration of THC.

Contrary to popular belief, add the lawyers, public authorities in France and Europe have not set the percentage of CBD allowed in flowers, oils, liquids and other products made from cannabis plants, which makes its consumption and transport legal. Only the THC level is subject to very strict regulations, and only varieties of industrial hemp that must have a THC content of less than 0.2% can be authorized. »


On October 25, 2019, the National Assembly gave the green light to an experiment in the use of medical cannabis as part of the examination of the Social Security draft budget for 2020. The social security financing law for 2020, promulgated on December 24, 2019, thus provided for an experiment in the use of therapeutic cannabis for a period of two years, which is implemented by the ANSM (National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products).

From the above, it should be understood that only travelers with a medical prescription will be authorized to carry products containing cannabis, dispensed in pharmacies, in a form and quantity in accordance with their prescription. “continue the lawyers.

The risks

If the penalties may vary depending on the case, French legislation specifies that the simple consumer can be assimilated to a trafficker, and therefore find himself liable to a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of €750,000. . In effect, explain the lawyers, consuming cannabis would imply possessing it, and therefore buying it or producing it, which leaves the judge completely free to incriminate the so-called user on the basis of the Public Health Code (use) or the Code penal (detention, trafficking, production)”. In practice, the judge’s decision depends on the quantities seized, the background of the accused and the judge’s preconceptions. Thus, simple users are very rarely penalized with heavy penalties, unless they are found in possession of a quantity of cannabis that far exceeds an “average” daily consumption.

Traveling from LA to SF with cannabis, is it legal?

On November 8, 2016, the State of California, by referendum accepted by 56%, approved the legalization of cannabis for recreational use (medicinal cannabis being legalized there since 1996). Following this referendum, a law in 2018 authorized the production, consumption and marketing of cannabis. ” Acts which therefore allow today to travel with cannabis, CBD or THC, completely legally in California, the quantities being limited to 28.5 grams per person in the event of transport of flowers. »

And in other states?

Whether the Cultivation, Use, and Marketing of Cannabis is Prohibited by U.S. Federal Law (editor’s note, penalties of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of 240,000 euros)31 out of 50 states have legalized at least one form of cannabis (medical or recreational) and 19 states now allow recreational use, and therefore the consumption of cannabis, in all its forms. Among them, the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico , New York State, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State. Cannabis legislation may vary from state to state, so travelers should carefully check the relevant regulations in the host state before transporting any substance containing cannabis. It is thus possible to travel with a quantity limited to 28.5 grams per person in the State of California, against 56.6 grams in the State of New Mexico.

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