Hiking with cannabis or CBD: What you should know before taking off into the wilderness

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Summer is officially here and for many people that means connecting with nature and heading into the great outdoors.

As many of you may or may not know, I’m an avid hiker. Comfortably situated in the Mojave desert between Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP) and various mountain ranges, I’m in a prime location for some exciting adventures. Basically, when I’m not writing, I’m trying to spend as much time outside as humanly possible.

Aside from being an outdoor enthusiast, I’m also an avid cannabis and CBD consumer (as if that isn’t obvious). So naturally, combining these two is something I enjoy doing often. An interesting theme around Joshua Tree is the unique vibes you feel in the area. It’s truly a spiritual place. That said, this area draws in a lot of artists, musicians, and bohemian types from all over the world. Finding a place in the park to camp out and smoke some buds or eat a few magic mushrooms is extremely common out here.

While it may seem like a pretty simple concept – to just spark up a joint or puff on your CBD vape while hiking – there are actually a few things you should keep in mind if you choose to partake. But fear not, I’m here to provide a few helpful tips so you can stay safe, be considerate of others, and make the best of your outdoor trek with cannabis or CBD.

Prepare for the climate

hiking cannabis

A normally dry lake bed after some heavy rain – Landers, CA

You would think this goes without saying but for some people, the sheer excitement of getting out of the city trumps any thoughts of safety. But please, I can’t stress this enough, be prepared for anything! Being that I live in a very touristy desert with a rather inhospitable climate, I can’t tell you how often people need to be rescued from JTNP after they wander into the park with limited knowledge of the terrain, not enough water, and possibly intoxicated.

This rule applies anytime and anywhere you decide to go hiking, but especially if you’re using cannabis or hemp at the same time. The feeling of thirst – or cotton mouth – is amplified when you’re using such products while participating in physical activities. So again I say, be prepared. Dress for the weather/terrain, wear sunscreen, know your route, and bring extra water!

Is it legal?

Now this topic is a bit more complicated and depends entirely on where you are – and no, I don’t mean whether you’re in a legal state or not. This particular question comes down to if you plan on hiking in a national park or if you’ll be taking a trail off the beaten path. If it’s the former, then do so at your own risk because national parks adhere to federal regulations. This means cannabis and certain CBD products are illegal when hiking, backpacking, camping, off roading – at all times.

While it may seem like a right of passage to smoke some ganja and saunter through the fantasy-like, bristled and twisting Joshua Trees (after all, Jim Morrison did it), it’s actually quite illegal. If caught, you can get anything from a fine and probation, to a few months in Jail. And if you’re from out of state, your sentence may transfer to your state of residence so you’ll still have to check in with a P.O. or do community service back home. This is true regardless of what state and what national park you’re arrested in. 

Be a safety conscious cannabis or CBD user

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Trails in Joshua Tree National Park

In some areas, where it’s cool and shady, or humid, fire safety may be just a fleeting thought. But here in California, wildfires can ravage entire communities. Be careful where you ash your joint or pipe, and make sure you don’t throw out any roaches. Aside from the glaring fire danger, littering in nature is pretty scummy.

Also, wherever you are, make sure to be considerate of other hikers. Just because you enjoy cannabis or CBD buds doesn’t mean everyone around you wants to smell it. It’s best to refrain until you’re somewhere less trafficked, but if that’s not an option, go with a more discreet method of consumption. Which brings me to my next point…

What’s the best way to use cannabis or CBD while hiking?

This is partially a matter of personal taste, but also dependent on what’s most convenient and discreet. Some people like to roll their cannabis or CBD buds into a joint or blunt, but this method is best reserved for areas where flowers are permitted, or at the very least somewhere secluded.

If you’re in a national park or on any more regularly traveled trail, you’ll definitely want to be as low-key as possible. Vaping is an option many people prefer, and it’s definitely more discreet than smoking but there is still an odor associated with this. If you truly want to be incognito about your cannabis or CBD use, the best options are edibles or tinctures. Edibles, of course, can be eaten, but tinctures can either either placed under the tongue or mixed into a beverage.

Final thoughts

Getting outside where you can be away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, as well as being surrounded by unrivaled natural beauty is not only great for your physical self, it’s also good for the soul. Hiking, camping, or simply spending a bit time in the fresh air can can make you feel connected, grounded, peaceful, and appreciative – adding cannabis or CBD to the mix can be a great way to take the wonders of nature to amazing new heights.  

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