Medical cannabis has increased the overall health of countless patients and provides them with a viable treatment option that doesn’t interfere with their day to day activities. However, with only part of the country – and world – allowing cannabis on a legal level, travel for medical cannabis patients can be tricky. This week Cannabis Magazine looks at travel do’s and don’ts for medical travelers and gives them advice for steps they should take while traveling.
Hey Cannabis Mag!
I live in LA and have recently been prescribed medical cannabis. I’m supposed to take a trip to visit family in Northern California next month. I told a friend about the trip and he said I should check to make sure I could travel with cannabis. I’m confused. Shouldn’t I be able to travel anywhere in my state with cannabis since it’s legal?
Dear Confused Patient,
Even though traveling with cannabis in a state where all forms of the plant have been legalized seems like a no-brainer, your friend brings up a valid point. The legal possession limit varies by county as well as state. This is vital information to know before you travel – you don’t want to be slapped with a possession charge simply because you forgot to leave that extra gram at home. Even though the punishment for exceeding the local limits is likely very light in states where cannabis has been legalized, it’s still a hassle you don’t want to worry about while on the road.
Luckily for you, the state of California requires that all counties allow at least the state minimum to be seen as legal possession – anything beyond that is ultimately up to local governments.
This could work well for you if you only need limited amounts of cannabis for your treatment. However, if your condition requires that you take larger amounts of the plant, you can travel with the legal amount and contact the dispensaries in the area you plan on traveling to and see which ones have the products you need for the duration of your stay.
Enjoy your travels and stay safe!
All the Highest!
I’m traveling abroad for the first time and I’m so excited! Recently, however, I realized that I don’t know if cannabis is legal in other countries. How many other countries allow cannabis consumption? And will I be able to take my prescription with me when I travel?
Dear Nervous Traveler,
It’s good that you’ve taken the time to consider your options for cannabis use while travelling abroad. The legalization status is dependent on where you are traveling to, but your status as a medical patient increases your potential to use the plant abroad substantially.
Here’s where things get a bit complicated.
Even though there are countries that allow recreational and medical cannabis within their borders, transporting cannabis to these areas is still considered a crime. Not only can you be prosecuted by our government for attempting to engage in drug trafficking, you’ll likely be met with opposition by international governments as well.
No one wants trouble with customs or the border guards – or with TSA for that matter – so the best thing for you to do is leave any excess cannabis you have at home. Plan on picking up medicine once you arrive at your destination to avoid breaking any domestic or foreign laws.
You’ll also want to obtain a letter from the physician that prescribed medical cannabis to you to carry on your person and show as proof of your medical need to doctors and dispensaries abroad. Set up an appointment with your doctor before you go (ideally a few months in advance) so you can talk about obtaining medical access to cannabis in the country you’re traveling to and alternative treatment options you can use temporarily if cannabis is still illegal in the country you’re visiting.
All the Highest!
Dear Cannabis Magazine,
My friends and I are going to take a cross country trip this summer and we’re going to be going through at least 6 different states. I’m really excited to go, but I don’t know what kind of paperwork I need to file to make sure I can take my cannabis with me (I’m a medical user) or if I need to fill out any paperwork at all. Do you have any insight about what I should do?
Dear Random Cannasuer,
You’re on the right track when you ask about paperwork – there will definitely be some of that involved. However, what you need to do and the availability of medical cannabis is dependent on which states you plan on traveling through.
We’ll start by looking at the paperwork. This is will only apply to states that have legalized medical marijuana. Unfortunately, since medical cannabis is not recognized as a right on a federal level, you can be prosecuted for possession and use of cannabis in states that haven’t legalized cannabis yet – even if you are approved to use medical cannabis in your state.
In states that do have programs for medical cannabis, you’ll have to do a bit of investigating to learn more about their laws. Some states will accept your medical status without filling out paperwork for their reference – others will not. Regardless of their position on this, they will expect you to buy your prescription once you get there – do not travel with cannabis across state lines during your trip.
Traveling across a border with cannabis is illegal because of federal laws – even if the state you’re traveling from and the state you’re traveling to have both legalized cannabis. You can be charged with possession, driving under the influence, and drug trafficking if you attempt to travel with cannabis. Your best option is to buy what you need when you get to the first state on your list and use it all before moving on to the next state.
One of the best things you can do is contact your doctor and talk with them about making arrangements for medical cannabis use in your travels.
All the Highest!