One great thing about being neighbors with a state where recreational marijuana is legal is that you can always hop over and get some. That’s the state of things for Pennsylvanians: possessing, selling, and using recreational weed in Pennsylvania is illegal, but it’s legal in neighboring New Jersey. So, does that mean you can take NJ marijuana to PA?
Absolutely not. Let’s explain.
Legalization of Marijuana in New Jersey
New Jersey approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in November 2020, but it wasn’t until 2022 before dispensaries became operational. The licensed sale of recreational New Jersey cannabis began on 21 April 2022 when 12 dispensaries opened their doors to customers. On the first day of sales, dispensaries sold $1.9million worth of cannabis and related products to 12,438 customers.
Jeff Brown, Executive Director of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said: “We expected sales to be substantial, and the data shows that the market is effectively serving both adult-use consumers and patients.”
Now that marijuana is within reach in neighboring New Jersey, Pennsylvanians can go over for a quick smoke. However, that’s not a free pass. Despite being legal, it is still possible to commit marijuana-related offenses.
And that begs this particular question, “Can I take New Jersey marijuana to Pennsylvania?” If you’re in a hurry, the answer is no, but there’s more to the story. Below we’ve explained all you need to know about bringing NJ marijuana into Pennsylvania and the legal status of weed in Pennsylvania.
LEARN MORE: New Jersey Marijuana Laws
Can You Buy Recreational NJ Marijuana if You’re From Out of State?
If you’re 21 and older, you’re welcome to buy recreational New Jersey cannabis from any licensed dispensaries and consume it within the state. You can buy up to six ounces.
So weed in Pennsylvania is illegal, but if you go to New Jersey, NJ marijuana laws protect you. It’s that simple.
Can I Take New Jersey Marijuana to Pennsylvania?
Keep the fun in New Jersey — don’t bring it home to Pennsylvania with you.
New Jersey law protects you only in New Jersey. Recreational marijuana is legal in New Jersey but still illegal in Pennsylvania; it doesn’t matter that you bought it legally in a state where recreational cannabis is legal.
Also, cannabis is still illegal federally, so transporting it across state lines is a federal crime; even if you transport legal marijuana to another state where it is legal, you commit a crime.
DeVaughn Ward is the Senior Attorney for Marijuana Policy Project and has plenty of experience with marijuana laws. He said, “While I don’t think the FBI or DEA will be waiting on the border or the Jersey Turnpike for you, it is still a crime. I would caution readers to not cross state lines with cannabis, whether that’s via car, train, or automobile. I would hate for somebody to be prosecuted. The reality is, the federal prohibition prevents folks from traveling between states with cannabis, even if it may have been purchased in one legal state and has been brought to another legal state.”
While there are efforts to legalize marijuana federally, it is still a Schedule I drug, and the federal government can consider transporting it across state lines as “drug trafficking.”
But Marijuana Has Been Decriminalized in Pennsylvania, Right?
Several cities have decriminalized marijuana, including Philadelphia. However, decriminalization is not legalization—it doesn’t mean you’re free to possess and use recreational marijuana. Also, decriminalization is not statewide; state law maintains that possession of any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense.
If state officials catch you with less than 30grams in Philadelphia, you get off with a Code Violation Notice, a $25 fine for possession, a $100 fine for smoking in public, and no arrest or jail time. However, if you’re on parole, decriminalization does not apply to you; possession of any amount of marijuana will get you in trouble.
In October 2018, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 163 into law; the bill repealed the “smoke a joint, lose your license” policy. This meant that possession of cannabis or other prohibited substances led to a mandatory six-month suspension of the offender’s driver’s license. His actions further reaffirmed that decriminalization did not mean a cannabis-free-for-all in PA.
So it is legal in neighboring New Jersey and has been decriminalized, but recreational weed in Pennsylvania is still illegal. Lt. Adam Reed, director of communications for Pennsylvania State Police, says:
Marijuana is a Schedule I Controlled Substance in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As Pennsylvania’s law currently stands, a person can be charged by any law enforcement agency in Pennsylvania for illegal possession of marijuana. A person can also be charged with DUI for being under the influence of any controlled substance or alcohol. Troopers certified as drug recognition experts (DRE) receive special training to recognize the physiological signs of a wide range of controlled substances, including marijuana. The same standardized field sobriety test used for alcohol cases are effective for people under the influence of controlled substances.
LEARN MORE: Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws
What If You’re Underage?
If you’re 18 and under, the police will temporarily detain you and notify your parent or legal guardian that you’re in custody for marijuana possession. You and your parent or legal guardian will get a Code Violation Notice and pay the fine.
Penalties For Marijuana Possession in Pennsylvania
As we’ve said, certain counties across the state have decriminalized the possession, consumption, and purchase of 30grams of cannabis or less. However, state law still criminalizes possession of any amount, and Pennsylvania marijuana penalties are one of the harshest in the country.
Unless you have a valid medical marijuana card that allows you to buy and consume medical marijuana in PA, you’ll face the consequences of the law for marijuana possession.
Possession of 30grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Possession of more than 30grams carries a $5,000 fine and up to 1 year in jail, but the penalty can be more if you have prior convictions.
Keep in mind that the possession of marijuana paraphernalia is also a crime, and it carries steep penalties. According to Pennsylvania law, “paraphernalia” includes anything used “for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing [marijuana] into the human body.”
So, leave the grass and the instruments you use to consume it all behind in New Jersey.
A conviction for possession of marijuana paraphernalia is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Penalties For Transporting Marijuana Across State Lines
This is simple. If state officials catch you transporting marijuana across state lines, you could face a felony drug trafficking charge with a heavy sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if it’s your first offense. For subsequent convictions, the state doubles the jail time and fines.
How Can You Enjoy Your NJ Weed Without Breaking the Law?
Now that you know you can’t bring legal New Jersey cannabis into Pennsylvania, you need to make plans.
It’s best to have a safe place in New Jersey where you can store and consume marijuana to avoid having to move things around. Call it your safe haven.
Elevate Holistics: Your Go-to Marijuana Help
The nuances of different state marijuana laws are enough to confuse the average person. However, consuming weed in Pennsylvania or NJ marijuana shouldn’t put you in trouble if you know the laws and do things accordingly.
Here at Elevate Holistics, we break these laws down and make them easy to understand. You can count on us to provide reliable, up-to-date information on anything cannabis, help you get your MMJ card, find a qualified physician, or locate a licensed dispensary.
If you’re still not sure about consuming or moving weed from NJ to Pennsylvania, click below to reach out. Or, if you’re a resident of either NJ or PA, you can book an appointment through us to get your medical marijuana card and give yourself the ultimate peace of mind.