Cannabis Road Trip Tips: See Sights and Stay Safe With These 7 Rules

Published on May 27, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Cannabis tends to spark a desire for adventure, and with recreational and medicinal cannabis legal in more locations than ever, this summer is a perfect time to combine your love of the open road with your love of America’s favorite herb.

While pairing any type of travel with cannabis can be a little tricky, trips that require driving present a unique set of challenges. However, following a few simple rules makes it easy to stay safe and compliant with local laws as you take the high road, and incorporating cannabis can make for a wonderful trip if you do things right. Let the following tips guide you as you gather your crew, pack up the car, and head out on your next great adventure.

Rule #1: Trade Off Being the Designated Driver

Car keys and cannabis buds

For every day you’re on the road, you’ll want at least one person to stay completely sober, so the more buddies you bring, the more people in the car will have the option of being high for the ride. For the lucky passengers, riding high has many benefits. The hours will fly by; the scenery will be especially beautiful; you’ll laugh at pretty much everything along the way; you’ll jam out to music; and some strains even quell nausea in passengers prone to carsickness.

If you’re planning on riding solo you don’t have to take cannabis out of the picture completely, but it’s never okay to drive under the influence (no matter how deserted the lonely desert roads may seem), so plan your consumption for when you arrive at each day’s destination. Bonus: it gives you something to look forward to as the miles slip away beneath your tires.

Rule #2: Don’t Bring It Across State or Country Lines

Canada - U.S. map border with a little toy car

Bringing cannabis across any state lines is illegal federally – even if you’re driving across the bridge from legal Washington to legal Oregon, it’s technically a no-no. Are you likely to get stopped if you’re driving safely? Nope, but just be aware of what’s officially acceptable and what’s not. It’s especially unwise to cross international borders with cannabis, even on accident. If you’re driving from Washington state to British Columbia, for instance, be sure you triple-check your purse or suitcase for wayward joints you might have forgotten about before you arrive at the border.

Don’t lament the fact that you can’t bring your homegrown bud along for the whole trip; use it as an excuse to check out the local selection in the cannabis-friendly places you visit.

Rule #3: Keep It in the Trunk

Car trunk

If you’re driving with cannabis – especially pungent raw flower – keep it in the trunk while you’re moving. That way, if you get pulled over because your tail light is out, it’s best not to raise any questions with a skunky car, even if cannabis is completely legal where you are. Police officers don’t have a good way of testing whether a driver is high, so a mere whiff could be enough to raise suspicions and cause trouble. No one should be smoking in the car while it’s moving: if you want to re-up on the go, pack some edibles for passengers to munch on.

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Rule #4: Brush Up on Local Stores, Strains, and Regulations

Colorado top strains poster

It’s always best to know before you go – before you set off on your journey, determine where cannabis is legal and where it’s not, whether you’ll need a medical card to procure some, and what any local penalties entail. If you have a medical card, figure out which other states will accept your out-of-state authorization. Are you looking to stop at a rec store while you’re in, for instance, Colorado? Keep in mind that even where cannabis is legal state-wide, some cities have banned local sales, so use our dispensary finder to pinpoint the places you’d like to visit.

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Once there, use our strain explorer to figure out which strains are available nearby, or ask your budtender to recommend local favorites that you can’t get anywhere else.

Rule #5: Plan Around the Scenery

Road trip sunset from the highway

Road trips were made for getting away from your day-to-day routine, and perhaps more than any other form of travel, they’re about the journey over the destination. Pick a drive with beautiful foliage, ocean views, mountainous elevation gains, or unique geographical formations, sit back in the passenger seat, and enjoy the view out the windows. The more unique, peaceful or colorful the scenery, the better. Roadside points of interest or elevated vantage points make for great places to stop, stretch, and smoke, too.

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Rule #6: Bring Good Music, Podcasts, and Snacks

Woman listening to music during a road trip

Good things to eat and listen to are a must for any road trip, and for a cannabis-centric road trip that’s especially true. Download all the new albums you’ve been meaning to get through, and stock up on podcasts from the likes of This American Life, Radiolab, On Being, and TED Radio Hour on topics such as “what is beauty,” “the unknown brain,” “how it all began,” and “are you sure?” – you’ll be transfixed and amazed at how fast the miles pass. As you listen, chow down on everything from white cheddar popcorn to apple slices to those tasty peanut butter pretzels – and be sure to stop at fun, funky restaurants that you come across off the beaten path.

Rule #7: Choose the Perfect Destination

Couple on a road trip checking their map

If you live in a state where cannabis is illegal, a road trip is the perfect excuse to visit a legal state and shop for edibles, concentrates and strains to your heart’s content. Just remember to consume them without breaking any rules. To that end, there are numerous canna-friendly bed and breakfasts popping up in legal states, and if you’re bringing a camper van or plan to pitch your own tent, so much the better for enjoying your freshly purchased herb.

If cannabis is already plentiful where you’re living or traveling, other great destinations include awe-inspiring natural wonders (think Redwoods, Niagara Falls, or the Grand Canyon), secluded campgrounds where you can enjoy your cannabis meditatively, hot springs where you can stargaze with your sweetheart and let the world slip away, or fantastic restaurants where the meal will be better than ever when you’re medicated. Wherever you go, whether on a day trip or a cross-country drive, remember to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

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Brett Konen
Brett Konen
Brett is a former editor at Leafly who loves travel, craft cocktails, and shining a spotlight on unique lifestyle trends.
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