Travel with cannabis

How to Travel with Medical Marijuana

Although more and more states have legalized cannabis, prohibitions at the federal level make traveling with medical marijuana confusing at best.

Some 33 states now permit some form of medical marijuana – making it seem like traveling with cannabis should be fairly straightforward. But because it’s still illegal at the federal level, traveling with medical marijuana can lead to delays and at worst, arrest. Despite attempted reforms, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 substance—in the same category as heroin and methamphetamine—; as such, carrying it across state lines is effectively drug trafficking, a federal crime, which carries a minimum penalty of up to five years and a $250,000 fine for the first offense.

When traveling overseas, penalties can be even harsher. In some countries, carrying even a small amount of cannabis can trigger lengthy detention. Some countries will impose a death penalty for trafficking larger amounts. Know the local laws at your destination, and exercise caution when in doubt.{+

US Airports

Turns out, the TSA is not that interested in your weed. “We’re focused on security and searching for things that are dangerous on the airplane,” said Mark Howell, a T.S.A. regional spokesman. “We’re not actively looking for marijuana or other drugs,” Mr. Howell said.

However, there is a caveat: a recent Instagram post by the TSA did mention that although they weren’t actively seeking out cannabis or other drugs, they were legally obliged to notify the authorities in the event they did find it. In states where medical marijuana is legal, Mr. Howell added, “you present your medical marijuana card, and the law enforcement officials will usually just give it back to you.” This underscores the necessity of traveling with your medical marijuana card.

In addition, various airlines have their own rules about carrying marijuana or cannabis-infused products on flights.  Delta, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines all have some restrictions, even for people with medical marijuana cards.

What about C.B.D.?

In May, the T.S.A. updated its rules, allowing travelers to carry CBD products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Passengers are permitted to bring products that are FDA-approved in their checked or carry-on luggage. However, even in these cases, the product you are carrying may lead to increased suspicion by security screeners and possibly slow you down at a checkpoint.

Roads and Trains

Driving with medical marijuana can also pose some risks. Across states, many marijuana arrests begin as traffic stops, according to Americans for Safe Access. The nonprofit advocacy group recommends keeping your cannabis in the trunk and not driving after consumption. In states where medical marijuana is still illegal, it’s probably best to keep it home.

Amtrak and Greyhound have strict rules on both alcohol and marijuana – it’s prohibited, even in states where medical marijuana is legal.

 When you Arrive

If you’re traveling to a state where medical marijuana is still illegal, you could be arrested and charged with possession.

Some states do honor other states’ medical marijuana cards, but not all do—it’s best to check before you go.

Travel Prepared

Wherever you’re headed, it’s best to go prepared. Carry your documents and keep them in a place where they can be easily accessed. For Arizona patients with digital cards, saving a photo of your card offline can be handy, in case you find yourself in a no-reception zone, like a rural highway in another state.

A few extra minutes to prepare before you go can make your travel safe, healthy, and, hopefully, hassle-free.