Federal law still says that marijuana is illegal. For many, this sounds like common sense; it’s been illegal for as long as they can remember. That’s fine, but the lines are getting blurry since some states are legalizing even recreational marijuana. It’s not as universally accepted that it is illegal as it used to be.

Crimes that cross state lines can also be prosecuted at the federal level. When you do this with marijuana, this could turn what feels like a minor incident into a federal crime. That’s not a chance that you want to take.

For instance, say you go on vacation to Michigan. Recreational marijuana is legal there, though it’s controlled like alcohol. You decide to buy some and bring it home. So do other members of your group. You fill a bag with it, put it in the trunk of your car, and then begin driving back to North Carolina, crossing multiple state lines on the way — and entering states where it’s not yet legal.

Now, if you get pulled over for an unrelated offense — like speeding — and the police find that bag of marijuana in your car, they could give you federal drug trafficking charges. You can tell them that you bought it legally or that it doesn’t all belong to you, but you still crossed those state borders and broke federal laws.

This is a serious situation with potential consequences that could change your life, even if what you did was a mistake. Make sure you are well aware of the legal defense options that you have as your case moves forward.