Wondering How to Travel with Medical Marijuana? Your Questions Answered￼
As of May 2022, medical marijuana has been legalized in 37 states in the United States, as well as Washington D.C. and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. As a result, more and more people are asking if they can travel with their medical cannabis.
The answer is: it depends.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of traveling with medical cannabis so that you can make the best decision for your needs.
Traveling to Another State
A state may permit you to use marijuana if you qualify as a medical marijuana patient and your use of marijuana has been approved there. However, not all states recognize the medical marijuana programs of other states.
Remember, there are differences between how residents and visitors of a state can possess marijuana. In Illinois, for instance, a resident holding a valid medical marijuana card can possess up to 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product. For visitors from other states, the limit is only up to 250 milligrams.
State vs. Federal Law
Medical marijuana law varies per state. Most states allow you to travel with cannabis as long as you are using it for medicinal purposes. However, the federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I Narcotic Drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse and lacks accepted medical use.
Confused? Don’t be. The most important thing to remember is that federal law trumps state law. When you’re in a state with legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana, you’re welcome to use cannabis in accordance with that state’s laws. But when you travel outside of that area (by crossing state lines), you fall under the purview of federal law, meaning marijuana is no longer allowed.
Can I Travel with Medical Marijuana?
We aren’t going to recommend that you break any laws, federal or state, so we are making any positive recommendations around traveling with medical marijuana in reference to traveling within a legal state.
Traveling with medical marijuana in your own vehicle is the safest option. However, there may be some murky areas if you’re renting a car or driving someone else’s vehicle, especially if you’re considering going through states with harsh medical marijuana regulations. Do not use marijuana while driving and follow all traffic laws to lessen the chances of being pulled over by the cops.
Trains and Buses
Bus companies and trains have their own rules and regulations when carrying medical marijuana. Greyhound, for example, does not allow intake or transport of cannabis on their vehicles, even going to or within legal states.
Subways and Commuter Trains
Subways and commuter trains also have their own restrictions and regulations that you must follow when traveling with your medical marijuana. The MTA in New York, the country’s main transit hub, outlawed all smoking in 1988, and sometimes has cops searching suspicious bags in stations.
Ferries and boats
The US Coast Guard advises you to leave your marijuana at home. You might not know that traveling on water is crossing another jurisdiction, and one should adhere to the rule of the state or country you are sailing through.
Can I Fly With Medical Cannabis?
You may be able to bring medical marijuana on a plane with you. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, as long as “products contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA.” Technically, you’re flying with hemp at that point, but legally, you can!
Keep in mind that when you fly, the TSA isn’t the only institution you have to deal with. American Airlines, for example, has banned all marijuana (even medical marijuana) from planes. You are not permitted to travel with even one gram of medically recommended cannabis under their policies.
In the end, traveling with medical marijuana has a number of legal hazards. Don’t leave home without a doctor’s note and a prescription for medical marijuana. It’s a legal gray area, so do your homework before you travel.
Can I Visit Other Countries With Medical Cannabis?
While flying with medical marijuana can be a gray area, it can also be a big source of trouble. While marijuana is legal in countries like Canada and Malta, it’s not legal in countries like Cuba or Saudi Arabia. There might be no laws against using medical marijuana in most countries, but the culture and attitude towards marijuana may differ.
Most people in the Middle East and Asia still regard cannabis possession as a serious crime. In certain countries, such as Singapore and Japan, it is illegal to even touch cannabis. If you’re visiting those places, it would be best to leave your stash at home, because the plant is still illegal in both forms (medical and recreational).
Bear in mind that visitors should not expect better treatment than locals. If you travel to other countries, be sure to research the particular cannabis status of the countries you will visit and follow their restrictions.
Medical Marijuana Storage While Traveling
When traveling with medical marijuana, keep it in its original container. Bringing an unmarked prescription bottle on a plane can get you in trouble. Place your medicinal marijuana, together with your MMJ card and any related papers, in a zipped compartment in your luggage and be prepared for additional questions around your medication.
Tips for Traveling with MMJ
Get a Medical Marijuana Card. There’s no way around this. A medical marijuana card is required to be able to legally travel with cannabis. If you don’t have one, you can get one in most states.
Know the Rules. If you’re a medical marijuana patient who’s planning a road trip, it’s important to understand the rules on traveling with cannabis. While the rules vary from state to state, and even from country to country, there are a few general things you can expect, like needing to be able to present your current medical marijuana card on demand.
Bring a Limited Amount. Carry a limited amount of medical marijuana with you – typically, this refers to the amount you are currently prescribed by your doctor. Bring your doctor’s certificate or letter of recommendation with you. Keep your doctor’s phone number and other contact information on hand.
Get a Carry-on Sized Bag. The TSA may look over your luggage if you have anything that looks suspicious, so make sure to pack your cannabis well. If you’re flying, don’t forget to pack your cannabis in a TSA-approved container or bag.
The Bottom Line
It’s difficult to travel with medical marijuana and so ensure that bringing it to your destination is lawful. Stay up to date on the most recent state and federal mandates to know their cannabis laws and your rights.
In the event that you are held due to possession of medical marijuana, despite having a medical marijuana card, try not to panic and understand your legal rights. Present your medical marijuana card and any associated paperwork with respect. If the problem continues, contact an attorney.