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Can I Travel with Medical Cannabis?

"If you’re a medical marijuana patient, there are a few things you might need to consider before heading out of town for the holidays."

August 29, 2023

It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but we all know it can also be the most stressful. Planning, shopping, cooking, traveling… the list goes on and on. If you’re a medical marijuana patient, there are a few things you might need to consider before heading out of town for the holidays.

Even though more than half the country has legalized either medical or recreational marijuana, cannabis is still illegal under federal law. Because of these federal laws, it is illegal to carry marijuana over state lines—even if you obtained that marijuana in a perfectly legal way.

So what can patients who rely on medical cannabis do? Well, if you’re traveling by car, staying within your home state, and abiding by your state’s cannabis laws, you’re fine. Make sure your cannabis products are packed in a child-proof container and kept out of reach while driving. Never, ever, ever operate a motor vehicle if you’re feeling the effects of cannabis or if you’ve recently consumed cannabis in any way. If you’re clear to drive, it’s over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house you go!

These rules change if you’re traveling by plane—even if you’re flying between destinations in a legal state (for example, from Miami to Jacksonville), federal law prohibits carrying cannabis on any commercial flights. According to the TSA, the only cannabis products that are allowed on commercial flights must fall within the federal guidelines of containing less than 0.3 percent THC or be otherwise approved by the FDA.

While you may have heard anecdotally that the TSA isn’t concerned about personal use cannabis, their official policy states that “if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.” If you’re traveling by plane it is illegal to bring your cannabis products with you, regardless of your status as a legal cannabis consumer.

This doesn’t mean you’ll have to make it through a cannabis-free trip! If you’re traveling to one of the 11 states that allow cannabis for adult use, you can visit any qualified dispensary and purchase legal cannabis products. Other states allow for medical marijuana reciprocity, which means that medical dispensaries will accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards. These laws can be complicated and vary from state to state, so make sure you do your research and find out how your destination’s specific laws will apply.

It’s important to consult with your physician before you leave because products and potencies can vary between states. Your physician will be able to tell you if legally purchased cannabis products from a state other than your own are a safe option for you.

Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, boat or train, remember that it is never legal to take cannabis products across state lines. If you’re traveling internationally, don’t even consider bringing your cannabis products with you. Talk to your physician about non-cannabis options you can rely on instead. If you’re uncertain about traveling with cannabis, it is always best to play it safe and leave your products at home.

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