Woodstock on the Docks?

Posted: May 1, 2013  |  Tag: Miscellaneous

By: John Temple

I see that marijuana is now legal in Washington. We are from California but travel to the Northwest and Canada. Will we be seeing and smelling marijuana-smoking on the dock? We have kids and grandkids and don’t want them exposed to drug use.
I do not expect that boaters in the Northwest will be dumb enough to pretend they can now smoke pot on their boat. The year before last, my wife and I were clearing customs at Roche Harbor after a trip to British Columbia. There was a boat ahead of us whose inspection delayed us for a long time. When I got in the customs office, I asked what was delaying everything. A U.S. boater came to get cleared in customs, with pot and a bong on the salon table. The occupants actually told the customs officials that they figured since pot was a misdemeanor in Washington there should not be a problem. They got arrested. Their boat was seized.

Here is the situation. The marijuana law for recreational use in Washington is a state law. Who patrols the waters throughout the West Coast and all of the U.S.? The U.S. Coast Guard. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal. I have been stopped multiple times by the Coast Guard for an inspection, for no other reason than they were conducting checks. So don’t think you won’t get caught just because you’re following the navigational rules.

While I am on this subject, it is not just about having marijuana or liquor on your boat; it is about being sober enough to have situational awareness and good boating skills so you can have a safe trip. Even with alcohol, hold off on any overuse until you are safely at port. Be the designated skipper you need to be.

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