Is It Legal to Smoke Marijuana on the Open Ocean?

All across the world and all across the United States, marijuana laws are changing, which is certainly positive progress, but it can also certainly be confusing and complicated. In the United States, marijuana is federally illegal, but the drug is also legalized both medicinally and recreationally in a number of states. This makes traveling very confusing, because someone might be a legal medical marijuana cardholder in one state and a criminal in the other. These laws become even more confusing on the open ocean, which The Simpsons famously calls, “the land that law forgot…”

Even though the ocean has been subject to the freedom of the seas doctrine, it isn’t quite as free as portrayed in The Simpsons. Most of the ocean is free to all under the doctrine, though it essentially limits national rights and jurisdiction to a nation’s coastline. The open ocean is known as international waters, which the Convention on High Seas defined as high seas, “... all parts of the sea that are not included in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State.” Most ships sailing are generally under the jurisdiction of its flag state though, so it’s wise to know both local and international marijuana laws while traveling on the open ocean.


Derived from the part of the cannabis plant that doesn't get you “high” like THC, cannabidiol (CBD) is typically used for health reasons instead of for recreational purposes, and has been found to be especially useful for treating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. A challenging neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson’s causes a combination of motor and non-motor symptoms — such as tremors, weakness, stiffness, dizziness, anxiety and sleeplessness — that affect daily life. CBD, typically taken in oil form, has the potential to relieve these symptoms, improving sleep, reducing inflammation and more, which can profoundly help the more than 10 million people across the world suffering.

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