Boaters advised: Marijuana still illegal on the high seas

Boaters advised: Marijuana still illegal on the high seas

Published on 7/4/17

As the summer months are now among us, those who will be enjoying open waters on their boat should be aware that not only is it a crime to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol, but possessing marijuana while on the water remains a crime under federal law. The Coast Guard boards and checks boats off the coastal states, and even in recreational marijuana legal states like Maine, adults can still be charged with possession if caught with it on the water. The Coast Guard operates under and enforces federal law, which supersedes state legal marijuana laws. On the otherhand, if boarded by the Maine Marine Patrol, possession of less than 2.5 oz of marijuana is permissable by an adult over 21 as long as it's not being smoked in public. 

“The Coast Guard enforces federal laws within all navigable U.S. waters. This means that in all marijuana cases, Coast Guard law enforcement officers will enforce federal law, even in states which have legalized it. Federal law has not changed, so our enforcement of that law has not changed,” Andrew Barresi, a Coast Guard spokesman based in Boston, said in an email.

“Based on the Coast Guard’s statement, we would not advise Mainers to possess or use marijuana in federal waters,” Boyer said in an email. “With support for making marijuana legal at an all-time high, the federal government needs to back off of states that have chosen a more sensible marijuana policy.”

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