Can You Legally Consume Medical Cannabis in Public?

With over half the US and now Canada boasting cannabis acceptance, newcomers are asking some questions. One of the most obvious is where they can light up, medically speaking. Can you smoke medical marijuana in public?

Across the US, laws range from green to mean concerning our favorite plant. But all states agree on at least one thing, no public smoking.

Colorado passed a law allowing private venues to allow smoking in separated spaces, with a permit. Bars and establishments with liquor licenses can’t participate, but coffee shops, art museums, music venues, and the like can register for the luxury.

Alaska went for similar liberties but didn’t get far. Public smoking is out, even for medical patients, however other forms of indulgence can slip by without much worry. Edibles, drinks, and vaping occur frequently in public places, regardless of legality. The key difference is that these forms don’t draw the attention that burning cannabis does, due to smell and visual obviousness.


Oh, Canada. The beautiful land to the north is home to some of the best bud on the continent, and soon, national legalization. In Canada, laws around smoking herb are virtually on par with smoking cigarettes. Certain places like bars don’t allow either, but getting in trouble for public consumption isn’t a high priority for police regardless.

Medicating the right way

If medical relief is really what you need, then plenty of options abound. Oils, topicals, edibles, patches, drinks, you name it, it can have cannabis in it. The difference between medical use and recreational is in the why.

Medical users often get more leeway than recreational consumers, but when the stink eye starts looking, it won’t matter what your reasons, just their perception.

The most basic rules for going green and getting away with it remain uniform, even if the rules don’t. Follow these tips for a hassle free session.

1. Don’t act the fool

The biggest reason to find trouble while ingesting in public is making a spectacle of oneself. Someone taking a few hits low-key and then resuming businessas-usual won’t find trouble near as often as someone holding a one person party in public. Don’t be that guy.

2. Don’t blaze clouds

The second biggest concern is the tell tale signs and smells. A cloud and a reek on clothing give any would be oppressor ample incentive to check you out. With all the other ways to ingest, actually burning the plant doesn’t ever have to occur.

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Vape cartridges are easy to substitute, and the smell is easier to mask. Edibles or drinks make smell completely negligible, and last longer. Even concert goers have made the shift for convenience. Don’t be that guy either.

3. Don’t drive and toke

Sure, those hot box videos look amazing, and taking a space cruise can’t be beat, but neither can a DUI. We’ve all driven down the highway and passed that one car that smelled like more than exhaust fumes. When the berries light up behind you and the window rolls down, that cloud of fun becomes a ticket to jail. Worse, every ticket for cannabis on the road makes furthering the cause that much harder. Don’t be that guy, ever.

4. Keep it short and sweet

Most of us have taken a few puffs off a pipe outside the movie theater, or taken a toke or two before shopping. The key to staying off the radar is doing so quickly and efficiently. Don’t hang around the area for more than a minute or two at the most.

Smoking a whole joint is like lighting a fuse and waiting for it to get all the way down. Consider public dosing like a basketball shot clock. Make it happen then move out of the area as fast as you can. Keep it travel size, for goodness sake.

5. Stay out of the limelight

Just because you have to do it in public doesn’t mean you have to do it in the middle of a crowd. Find an out of the way spot, preferably outside, with as little foot traffic as possible. The less busy the area, the less likely to get interrupted or caught leaving afterward. Public bathrooms are a huge no-no. Try around the back of the building. It’s a stereotype for a reason: it works.

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