Do you use cannabis recreationally?

The Coast Guard hopes you’re not, at least on the ocean.

In 2009 the Coast Guard formed a campaign called Operation Dry Water. The campaign was established to create awareness and additional enforcement on boating under the influence. Boating under the influence does not mean just alcohol. All states that have legalized recreational marijuana, except Colorado, have an ocean coastline and need to be aware of the federal laws. Under federal law, marijuana is still classified as a ScheduleⅠdrug, with the likes of heroin and cocaine. The Coast Guard will continue to enforce this law, especially in the summer months.


It’s clear that boat captains need to steer clear of cannabis use while operating, however, passengers need to be cautious as well. According to Andrew Barresi, a Coast Guard spokesman based in Boston, said in an email “Some actions that could be taken for individuals found to be in possession of marijuana, include, but are not limited to, seizure of the marijuana, receipt of a citation, or being taken into custody.”


It’s unclear how medical marijuana patients would be treated if encountered by the Coast Guard. Based on the statement from Barresi there would be unfortunate consequences for the use or possession of a healing substance.

Are boat drivers impaired after cannabis use?

It may depend on the person; however, the law has answered with clear expectations. No one is safe using cannabis while operating a boat on open ocean water. The Coast Guard has the ability to board any vessel at any time without probable cause or a warrant. The Coast Guard states they are there for your safety and protection, which makes boarding a vessel common practice.

The good news is the Maine Warden Service and Maine Marine Patrol follows state law. This means if you are 21+ you can carry up to 2.5 ounces. Keep in mind that sweet cannabis is not to be enjoyed in public. So use precaution out on the high seas this summer. Know the Coast Guard can check your boat at any time. Consider when preparing to go out on the ocean, packing your snacks and such, to leave the cannabis at home.

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