Traveling with Medical Marijuana: A Complete Guide

Traveling with Medical Marijuana: A Complete Guide

A vast amount of research supporting the claim that marijuana can be used to treat different conditions, including chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea, loss of appetite, Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, stress, epilepsy, and even some cancers, has led to numerous states in the USA and other countries allowing the medicinal use of this plant. 

As of this writing, there are currently 33 states in the USA that permit the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Some states even allow for the home cultivation of cannabis and the running of marijuana dispensaries. It is vital that you know the policies and laws specific to your state to avoid complications and hefty penalties, particularly if you’re planning on traveling with this drug. 

Under US federal law, marijuana is still classified as an illegal substance. As such, traveling with cannabis may lead to inconveniences, however it’s for personal use and you have a marijuana card, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

What the Law States

Under Federal Law, marijuana, also known as weed or cannabis, is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which puts it in the same category as heroin. This means that the Drug Enforcement Administration can arrest anyone found to be in possession of this substance. However, since some states have legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes, casual users may also be spared the fines and penalties. 

What you should keep in mind is that some states and countries don’t tolerate the use of marijuana, whether prescribed by the doctor or not, and shipping and traveling with cannabis to these states and countries can land you on the wrong side of the law. 

Traveling with with Medical Marijuana in the USA

In the USA, a total of 33 states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The following is a list of these states: 

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon,, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia

The Transportation Security Administration or TSA doesn’t specifically search for illegal drugs, however, if you’re found to have this drug in your carry on, you will be subjected to questioning and may need to present some documents. After that, you’re good to go. Again, this is only applicable to those individuals traveling to states that permit the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Requirements for a Medical Marijuana Card

Medical condition requirement differs from each state, Individuals in possession of a marijuana card have been approved to buy, use and cultivate cannabis in the states where this drug can be used for medical purposes.  

People who are suffering from certain conditions may apply for the card, including those suffering from:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Epilepsy
  • Muscular dystrophy 
  • Parkinson’s disease. 

The requirements for getting this card include proof of residency, updated medical records and a doctor’s recommendation. You require proof from your physician that the cannabis would help alleviate pain and discomfort caused by your condition. This may not be as easy as it sounds as some doctors may prefer to offer you pharmaceuticals instead. However, if you are an advocate of this drug and some medicines don’t work for you anymore, you can ask your doctor to consider prescribing marijuana. 

Typically, your doctor will need to coordinate with the state health department to file the required paperwork. Also, check with the state health department to find out how long the marijuana card is valid for as some cards expire after a year, in which case you will need to reapply for another after the expiration date. 

Kind of Medical Cannabis You Can Travel With

Some states will only permit the sale of medical cannabis by authorized sellers, and these are to be sold from dispensaries, for safer use. These dispensaries will provide the exact dosage and amounts required by the individual. 

 Some states in the US will allow individuals to travel with a maximum of eight grams if they are aged 21 years and older while in Canada, the maximum quantity allowed on the aircraft is equivalent to a 30-day supply or 150 grams. Exceeding these limits during your travels can, again, land you on the wrong side of the law and the authorities may confiscate the supply.

Also, note that proper packaging of marijuana is recommended. The regulations require that marijuana is stored in odor-proof packaging.

Traveling with Marijuana Outside the US

Some countries are strict when it comes to the use of marijuana while others allow for the medical use of this drug. In Canada, for example, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority or CATS will allow medical patients, in possession of cannabis, to fly as long as they are within the carrying limit and have their marijuana card or Health Canada Registration Certificate. 

In Asia, on the other hand, specifically Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Brunei and the Philippines, the possession of marijuana is prohibited and subject to criminal charges and, in some instances, even the death penalty. 

Meanwhile, it is permissible to carry medicinal cannabis across the state members of the EU, however, prepare to go through a lot of questioning and paperwork. Coordinate with the authorities ahead of time to prevent delays, or worse, criminal charges. 

Finding an Alternative 

If you are traveling abroad for an extended period, and you need a larger amount or supply of cannabis, you may need to find an alternative. 

There’s cannabidiol or CBD, which is an active compound found in the marijuana plant. CBD is not responsible for the ‘high’ feeling or psychoactive effects, so it’s perfectly safe. 

Cannabidiol also possesses countless benefits that can alleviate chronic pain of the muscles, headache, joint pain and more. It is safer to carry when traveling because it is not considered an ‘addictive substance’. CBD comes in different forms: edibles, supplements, CBD oil, topicals, and vapes and, if you have chronic joint pain, you can simply use a CBD-infused topical to ease the discomfort. 

However, in liquid form, you need to stay under the 100ml liquid requirement to prevent confiscation in the airport. 

The regulations and policies per state and across countries will differ, so it’s important to conduct the relevant research before heading to the airport with your supply of marijuana. Bear this in mind if you are looking to have a stress-free holiday in the US or abroad. 

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