If you live in a state where legal weed is available, congratulations. You’re probably feeling pretty good right about now, regardless of when you last smoked. Don’t get too ahead of yourself, though. There are still ways to consume marijuana that run afoul of the law.
Legal weed shops have to comply with state regulations and pay taxes. They also have to pay their employees. That often leads to higher prices than you’d find if you just go to your buddy’s buddy a couple of blocks away. He usually has good stuff, so it should be fine, right? It’s cheaper, and hey, possessing small amounts of weed is legal now.
That depends on where you are and who you are. In states like Oregon and Washington, it’s still illegal to use or possess pot if you’re under 21 years of age. Sorry, college underclassmen. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your dorm room where no one can see you; you’re technically breaking the law.
According to the Oregon.gov website, you can only purchase marijuana legally from stores that are licensed by the state. Does that mean that a cop who sees you buying a dime bag from a friend in a public park will arrest you on the spot? Maybe, since you’re not supposed to be using or exchanging weed in a public place. But a lot of that depends on where you’re making this pot exchange since cities have a lot of leeway in how they’ll enforce possession laws. Weirdly, Oregon law allows a friend to give you pot as a gift, but he isn’t supposed to charge for it.
There are a lot of intricacies to state pot laws, which is why it’s a really good idea to go to a local, licensed pot shop. You can ask questions and get answers from the shop’s knowledgeable team of budtenders. They have to know this stuff; their livelihood depends on it. Whereas your street dealer might tell you it’s perfectly OK to smoke pot in your car, a Portland budtender will know that you can’t consume pot in public, and even a parked car is considered a public place. They’ll also know exactly where their products come from, and will even test their products in local labs to make sure everything is safe. Sure, it may be more expensive, but you’ll be paying for quality products.
Look at this way: pot shops aren’t fly-by-night operations like what your stoner friend Eddie is running. Pot shop owners have to go through a rigorous series of background checks before they can get licensed. They probably hired a marijuana business lawyer long before their shop served its first customer. Those state regulatory agencies aren’t messing around, so it’s important not to get on their bad side.
Wherever you buy your pot, do not, under any circumstances, take it across state lines. That’s a federal offense, and as you may have noticed, the current federal government doesn’t exactly look kindly upon marijuana anyway. If you live in Colorado and a friend from your Utah hometown wants you to bring them some weed next time you’re in town, tell them no. Places like Oregon are happy to serve weed tourists from out-of-state (as long as they’re over 21), but taking it out-of-state is a no-no.
It’s critical to remember that living in a state with legal weed doesn’t mean that it’s a pot free-for-all. You still have to follow the laws as written. And if you don’t live in a state with legal recreational weed? You can try to get a medical marijuana card if it’s available, but if not, the smartest thing to do is not smoke it and lobby your state legislators to change the law.