What happens if you get caught with cannabis in a national park?


Yellowstone, the first national park in the world, impressed its visitors with its 3,500 square meters. Miles of wilderness and volcanic action since 1872. The setting is almost too perfect for nature-loving cannabis enthusiasts as many vacationers no doubt are tempted to sneak in to a product and light up a trail.

Yellowstone, like other national parks, is federal property, however, and with the legality of cannabis currently occupying a gray area between state and national laws, it’s important not only to understand what to expect when visiting national parks with cannabis, but also to know your rights Federal state.

National park cannabis guidelines: what you need to know

If you suffer a state cannabis-related misdemeanor, the federal government must still check-in to make sure you get drug tested – even if you live in a legal state.

To answer these questions, we reached out to Alex Freeburg, a criminal defense attorney who represents individuals accused of smoking or possession of cannabis in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. If you think park ownership isn’t an issue, Freeburg would disagree – he’s had at least six cases this year alone, and that number won’t increase until the summer months are in full swing and the parks fill up.

Freeburg makes it clear: Just because you are in an extensive forest area does not mean that you can sniff a train and get away with it. State is subject to federal rules. “The federal authorities have far more resources than the states,” says Freeburg. “The federal agencies operate nationwide.” This means that if you suffer a state offense related to a cannabis indictment, the federal government is still required to check in with you in your home state to make sure you are get tested for drugs – even if you live in a legal state.

“In my experience – in Wyoming – you can go on parole with an initial charge against the pot,” says Freeburg. “If they’re not from Wyoming, it’s no big deal, they’re going back to their home state, and there’s no parole officer in Wyoming to check you out in California. But there is at the Feds. “

Instead of living your life after dealing with legal issues in Wyoming, there is still a great possibility that you may be required to provide urine samples for home testing – and if the tests are positive for cannabis, you can Those who are surrounded by statutory pharmacies in their state of residence lose their probation period.

Not only is probation a headache, you could face cannabis charges for at least three to six months and give up some cash. Freeburg says: “Yellowstone is the crown jewel of our national parks and has three million visitors [about] $ 795 for a conviction [there], but that’s a standard number. In other parks, I think it’s about $ 200. “

Three to six months may not sound like much in the long run, but there are always exceptions to the rule, and Freeburg has seen it all. He recently had a customer who pleaded guilty of possession and was on parole, but when that customer returned to his home state he ran into some unfortunate problems. “This is the only time I’ve ever heard of it, but they forced him into a group home – he was from Georgia – because he pleaded guilty on a pot charge. He hired me to do all of this and they had him parole for less than an ounce of weed. He left the halfway house and was jailed for six months – that’s the maximum you can get. So, in the end, if you break the parole, you can end up getting jailed for these charges. It’s an extreme story, but it happened. “

There are myriad ways cannabis cases can go for the worse, even if you think you’re ready. According to Freeburg, the most common case occurs when a “person arrives late and finds all campsites are full, decides to sleep in the car, and takes a train before bed. Then the ranger will wake them up to tell them not to sleep in the car and smell the grass. ”To avoid such a scenario, always make sure you have everything stowed and securely locked before leaving your watch drop.

Play it safe and know your rights

Since he doesn’t want others to go through the same exams as his customers, Freeburg gives some helpful tips for visiting a national park like Yellowstone below:

You can say “no” if you want to search your car. If you are camping and an officer wants to search your vehicle, get a search warrant. Say you are not going anywhere. When consuming, use vape pens and edibles. It’s about minimizing the odor. Store cannabis separately from your ID or insurance (e.g. not in the glove compartment). Keep alcohol in the cooler and out of sight. If you get caught, don’t share responsibility. If there is a common and two people and they both say it is “common”, you both get the ticket. Let one person take care of it. Do not agree to parole if you do not want to quit smoking.

We strongly recommend following Freeburg’s advice and always using cannabis in a safe, legal, and comfortable environment. Even if the road to legalization is well on its way, an unfortunate collision can still have a negative impact on your life – and that’s something neither of us wants to grapple with.

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Beth Edmonds