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What to do if you smell marijuana at the campground. Can you complain? Can you partake?

If you smell a skunk in the campground, it may not be a skunk. Oftentimes the pungent smell of marijuana resembles that stinky animal. But is marijuana usage allowed in a campground? What are the rules?

One reader, we’ll keep her name to ourselves, was not happy when she smelled the odor of marijuana while camping. She sent us an email and we decided to do a little investigating. Here’s what she wrote:

”I know that marijuana is legal in many states now, and I personally have no issue with someone using it in their own home if done so legally. I’m wondering if readers have encountered a policy in any campgrounds that they frequent regarding marijuana use outdoors?

“On more than one occasion this summer we have been at a campground and enjoying our site only to have someone show up next to or across from us and start smoking. I would expect to smell campfire smoke when camping, but I don’t appreciate second-hand marijuana smoke. Frankly, the smell makes me want to vomit.

“I have seen rules on vaping and tobacco products, but none yet on marijuana. Would this be different for private vs. state-owned vs. national forest campgrounds? For the record, this time I did call the office. I will be curious to see what they do about it.”

What’s legal, what’s not, and where

Many states have legalized the use of cannabis – many for medicinal use only and some for recreational use. 21 states have legalized recreational marijuana along with 34 states that allow medical marijuana.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in:

• Alaska
• Arizona
• California
• Colorado
• Connecticut
• Guam
• Illinois
• Maine
• Massachusetts
• Michigan
• Montana
• Nevada
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
• Oregon
• South Dakota (a legalization measure was approved but is pending a lawsuit)
• Vermont
• Virginia
• Washington D.C.
• Washington

Here is a list of current states that have legalized marijuana and each individual state’s policies. While states can legalize cannabis within their state, it is still illegal on the federal level.

Federal law

Cannabis is illegal on the national level. This means it is illegal to consume marijuana in national parks, forests, federal wildlife refuges, any other federal properties that are under federal law. It is still classified as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin and cocaine. It is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines.

State law

State laws vary from state to state, but even when medicinal and recreational use is approved, use in public spaces, state and county parks is still illegal. Many states, even those that have not legalized marijuana, have reduced the ticket and fine to a misdemeanor. Here is a quick view of individual states’ status.

Bottom line: States that have fully legalized marijuana or any cannabis products permit the use in a private home/property but not public places.

Private campgrounds and marijuana use

The use of marijuana on private lands and private campgrounds in states that have legalized the purchase, possession, and use of cannabis is up to the campground. Even a KOA in Michigan allows its use!

There have been a growing number of campgrounds in states where marijuana is legal that advertise themselves as “cannabis-friendly” or “420-friendly.” Those campgrounds allow the use but still have rules about where in their facility it is permitted.

A simple Google search brings up a growing number of pot-happy campgrounds.

What can you do?

Private property campgrounds

If you are booking a campsite in a legalized state and it is important to be in or not be in a cannabis-friendly campground, ask what their policy is when booking. Ask how the office handles it when someone breaks their rules.

Federal and state campgrounds

If camping on ANY federal land or state, county, or regional parks and there is still that pungent odor wafting your way, you can report it to the office, the rangers or the camp host.

Reporting to authorities

If reporting to the office is ineffectual, you can report to the local police. Know, however, that it may result in either fines or the arrest of your neighboring campers.

Talk

You can also consider asking the people to snub it out, but do so with caution. In this day of road rage, thin tempers and general anger, it may be wiser to go to the authorities.

Please let us know your experiences in the comments below.

##RVT1022

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Kendra
1 month ago

I have medical marijuana for medical use to help with pain from dystrophy. In states where it is illegal it is difficult for me so I use a vape pen inside my trailer which has no smell. Or use an edible like chocolate or gummies. Even in states where it is legal I do not smoke pot. I am very respectful of my camping neighbors.

Uncle Swags
1 month ago

It should never have been added to the list of Class 1 narcotics. Politics in the 1930’s saw to that and if you want a good watch find “Reefer Madness”.

Americans want the ability to make their own choices and when given that right tend to do so responsibly. It’s our nature. As long as you behave responsibly you’ve earned that right.

And when government has a taste of all that tax money, well the sky’s the limit as they say.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Uncle Swags

There was so much fear and misinformation around MJ. It was considered to make black men attack white women. Black Lives Matter wasn’t exactly around in the 1930s, if you get my drift.

MJ was legalized in WA a few years ago, and I was so hopeful that the tax revenue would be a boon. What I was shocked to learn was that the street was still cheaper, so people were buying there instead of the stores. Bummer. And the Federal government is so behind the times, they don’t even allow legal pot stores to have bank accounts. How do they pay their taxes… in cash??

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
Dennis G.
1 month ago

Personally do not like cigarette smoke, nor do I like marijuana smoke. What bothers me is the number of people I see in their cars, at a stop light, or pulling up next to me in parking lot, while actively smoking a marijuana cigarette. 🙁

Cody
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis G.

I smoke
Never have I seen anyone actively driving and smoking. Nor parked and smoking. Where in the world do you live that you see this so often?
And I’ve been “around the block” a few thousand times. Also, we have the right to be offended in America….. Peace-

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Cody

I have also never seen that.

Tony
1 month ago
Reply to  Cody

Even as far back as the late 70s, while living in California, I use to see people smoking pot while driving on a regular basis.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony

I guess I don’t peer at other drivers that much. I’m surprised you could tell the difference between a J and a cigarette from a distance.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Hi, Chris. I’ve seen folks smoking pot in their cars near where I live north of Seattle. I’ve mainly noticed when sitting next to them at a stoplight. Also, when driving behind someone on my neighborhood two-lane road. The smoke will come billowing out their window and into my open window, or into my car through an open vent. (“Oh, great. Now my car smells like I’ve been smoking pot.”) Take care. 🙂 –Diane

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Well, that’s a good way to get a DUI.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

My thoughts exactly, Chris! Dang! “But, Officer … I was just following a car.” 😆 Have a good night. 🙂 –Diane

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Talking on the phone is, by far, the activity I see most often.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Same here, Chris. “By far” is correct! I rarely drive anywhere these days, thanks to being able to work from home (Thanks, Chuck!). But when I do go out, I always see people talking on the phone, or texting, while driving. Scary stuff! Have a good afternoon/evening. Stay safe out there! 🙂 –Diane

Ibmoose
1 month ago
Reply to  Cody

As a cop for 28 years in CA, I can absolutely assure you people actively drive and smoke mj… We have the right to be offended in America but we do NOT have the right to drive impaired/under the influence…

I absolutely do not want to smell your cigarette smoke or you pot smoke. It’s like me spitting my Copenhagen in your nose.

GARY SAIN
1 month ago

Don’t partake, but definitely am on the live and let live side of the fence. I’ve never been bothered, or annoyed by a pot smoker. Now alcohol….. (and yes, I drink).

Robbie Scicolone
1 month ago

How about don’t be a Karen and mind your own business. It isn’t hurting you than don’t complain no one wants to hear it.

Cody
1 month ago

Thank You!

William
1 month ago

So you have no right to not be exposed to intoxicating smoke, while the user can emit whatever they want?

RoadRabbit
1 month ago
Reply to  William

Marijuana smoke that you can smell is not necessarily intoxicating you. Your over reaction is an example of what happens when we believe propaganda over science.

Al LeFeusch
1 month ago

Also, it’s legal in all of Canada. And, considering nearly every campground in North America allows tobacco smoking at the site, I don’t worry too much about my cannabis smoke.

Gregg
1 month ago

Generally good article (as usual Nanci) and glad to see this topic here, but comparing pot smokers to road ragers?? I think you don’t have much experience with pot smokers. If anything we’re a mellow and peaceful people. My wife and I are known to enjoy a camp cup of wine and a jay around our campfire every night.

Bob M
1 month ago

In all my life, I have never smelled Marijuana smoke that smelled like a skunk. Maybe there is something mixed with the Marijuana or are they smoking Hemp? I can’t stand cigarette smoke or be next to people who stink from the cigarette smoke. Don’t remember smokers stinking so bad in my younger days. So I assume the manufactures are adding some type of chemical to cigarettes. The smell from campfires don’t bother me.

Dennis O
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob M

Agreed burning marijuana smoke does not smell like skunk. But some “skunk weed” does before it is lit. Some growers have found a way to make it more pungent and potent than our younger days but not with chemicals hopefully. And to say it makes one want to vomit now that’s a first for me.

Catarina
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob M

Bob M, I smoked cigs for years and my clothing smelled bad. I still like standing next to someone who is smoking – after 26 smoke-free years I like that “pleasure center” feeling, or association. I don’t like smoke on clothing though and I don’t like mj smells. As we age our sense of smell changes and something that used to smell one way may now come across smelling different. Likes and dislikes of course always change.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago

When former Speaker of the House, John Boehner, retired and joined a Marijuana Advocacy Group, you knew it was only a matter of time before it became legalized. Personal feelings about its use aside, it should be treated like booze and come down to personal responsibility, legalized and taxed (like booze) and allow small producers to grow it (craft cannabis products treated like craft beer or vodka). The ‘War on Drugs’ has not worked, just as Prohibition failed. Here in Washington State, legalization has fixed many of the issues our society has had with how we prosecute drug charges (often along racial lines). We need to fix a lot of these issues.

As for the smoke – Edibles For The Win!!

Bob
1 month ago

Its also legal in Canada

Lee Ann B
1 month ago

As someone who does not own a sticks & brick home, lives fulltime in a rv, travels throughout the country, and has medical issues for which marijuana helps, I check each State we visit for their marijuana use and laws. I have found that even if approved for recreational use, there may be restrictions. The common theme though for recreational use is approval to use in your home. Since the rv is my home, I am “renting” space in a private campground, and the campground has not published a prohibition against the use of marijuana my thinking is that I am on fairly stable grounds for smoking/ingesting pot in places where recreational marijuana is legal. We have parked at private campgrounds in States with legalized marijuana and the campgrounds have published within their rules that marijuana is not allowed. We have also parked in private campgrounds where their rules state no alcohol allowed. I wonder, would the person in this article complain if a neighbor at home lit up?

cee
1 month ago

To the person in the article who said, “…I don’t appreciate second-hand marijuana smoke. Frankly, the smell makes me want to vomit”. I feel the same way about diesel vehicles!

Cody
1 month ago
Reply to  cee

Thank You!

Drew
1 month ago

We have dogs. They’ll chase a skunk and twice have been sprayed. It’s a painful mess for them. My neighbor has taken up the cannibus habit and I have a hard time knowing whether it’s a skunk or not. If I smell it during the day I know it’s usually pot but if it’s dark I don’t know. My daughter can tell the difference. This is another nuisance that we have to deal with these days I’m afraid.

Cody
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew

Pot is Peaceful. No need to be afraid. Really.

Kendra
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew

Keep your dogs on a leash.

Alex
1 month ago

Please keep in mind that drug use, even really harmful drugs like heroin and methamphetamine is NOT illegal. Possession is illegal. How one can use something without possessing it is beyond explanation. Obviously, there is some covert intent in the legislation.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex

I would hope that someday drug use would be considered a public health problem instead of a crime. I remember this constant refrain of “gateway drug”, as if EVERYONE who smoked pot would end up dead in an alley with a needle hanging from their arm. Although it is true the virtually every hard drug user smokes pot, the vast majority of pot smokers never go on to harder drugs.

Cody
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Thank You! Well said.

30yr retired (california) copper
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex

Actually, most states, lets say many to be very fair, have statutes for being under the influence of a variety of illegal narcotics. Just a different charge. Possession is one penal code section, being under the influence of the same drug is a separate and distinct penal code violation. So yes, it is technically illegal to use as well as possess. I believe that the distinction you may have been trying to make is this, (at least in california) possession of these narcotics is a felony while being under the influence after ingesting them is only a misdemeanor. Your point was well made, but just wanted to clarify. Its stupid for possession, when u haven’t ingested said narcotic, to be a felony when ingesting that drug is merely a ticket. Makes no sense to me.

Bob
1 month ago

Just because someone is smoking a joint in a campground does not mean they are driving high. That’s like saying everybody who has a beer in a campground are driving drunk. If it’s legal, it’s legal. learn to live with it. If your next-door neighbor in your neighborhood is smoking a joint with his window open and some smoke drifts your way and its legal it’s the same as if they are smoking a cigarette.

chris
1 month ago

I’d rather smell that than campfire smoke.

Irv
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

+1

Firefly
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

yep

cee
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Me too. I would choose to be around pot smokers rather than alcohol consumers. Usually a happier less volatile crowd.

Jeb
1 month ago

I don’t like smelling any smoke and it is adverse to my spouses health. I worry about an mj smoker driving a 15 ton rig down the road under the influence. Bad enough with the drunks.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeb

OTR truckers are far more likely to be on meth than pot.

Cody
1 month ago
Reply to  chris

Absolutely.

Cody
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeb

Sorry to disappoint you. The last thing me and my friends want to do is drive a car. Pot tends to make relaxing much more attainable. Peace. The sky hasn’t fallen
Yet…

RoadRabbit
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeb

This is a common fear because it’s a common misconception. Even our law enforcement is uneducated on the issue, but you should know that consuming cannabis does not necessarily equate impairment. It is not comparable to alcohol and does not have the same effect on us.

Dave
1 month ago

Don’t call the park office. Cigarette smoke is just as bad, if not worse smelling. Do you call the office then? Edibles are a nice solution though. Time to legalize something that is less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes. Personal choice freedoms should be embraced in bi-partisan way.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
John Byrne
1 month ago

I would rather smell the pot smoke than the campfire smoke. The OP said they “expected to smell” a campfire. Yep. Often large, belching copious smoke. Many are not used for cooking, but just for entertainment. Campfires create a LOT more smoke.

Joe Malvasi
1 month ago

Why is Quam on the list. It’s not a state, is it?

Joe Malvasi
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Malvasi

Oops, Guam…

Ellen L
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Malvasi

It is a US Territory.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago
Reply to  Ellen L

And has several National Parks, but no camping (was stationed there in the early 2000’s). Never saw an RV, and few tent campers thanks to all the tree snakes. Amazing scuba diving, though!

Cody
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Malvasi

“Guam”is a US territory. They can’t vote but they do consider themselves American or indigenous Pacific Islander. America has a huge military base in Guam.