Can You Travel with Medical Marijuana?
Every time a state approves the use of marijuana, it is reason for celebration. At the time of writing, 38 states, plus Washington DC have some form of medicinal marijuana program. State legislatures are rushing up to legalize the drug, while federal law continues to forbid its use steadfastly.
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and has been since 1970, according to Section 812 of Title 21 of the United States Code. As a result, even if marijuana is permitted for recreational or medical use in both states, carrying cannabis between them is against the law. The Constitution of our country grants our federal government the power to oversee and regulate trade between states.
Transporting medical marijuana between countries becomes even more complicated and usually has very serious consequences if one is caught.
Traveling Interstate with Medical Cannabis
Even traveling between states carrying marijuana is a massive risk – regardless of the cannabis policies in each individual state, because, at the end of the day, cannabis still remains federally illegal.
Just as it is not allowed to ship cannabis from one recreational or medical state to another, the same goes for transporting cannabis for personal use across borders.
If, for instance, you are driving back to your home in Northern California from a weekend away in Las Vegas, Nevada, if you are in possession of cannabis, though allowed in each state individually, crossing borders enters into federal territory, and therefore federal laws apply. If you were to be pulled over or your vehicle searched while crossing a checkpoint, you could be arrested and fined or even imprisoned for possession of cannabis. Scary, right?
This is why, if you intend to consume medical (or recreational) cannabis in a state where it is permitted, it’s important to access the marijuana within that state and complete it (or leave it behind) before traveling onwards to another state.
Even then, because cannabis is still prohibited by federal law, technically, possession of cannabis in a legal state like California could result in an arrest. The federal government has consented to let states regulate cannabis however they see fit. However, the federal government has NOT promised to refrain from taking action when marijuana is transported beyond state lines.
Then there are the northern and southern borders of the USA – Canada and Mexico, respectively. Even though cannabis is legal in Canada, it is definitely not permitted to transport medical or legal weed between Canada and the US (the same goes for Mexico). You can get into serious trouble if you are caught because, much like transporting cannabis across state lines, the same restrictions exist. It is illegal to cross international borders with cannabis.
Can You Fly with Medical Cannabis Throughout the US?
Much like driving across state lines with cannabis is illegal, the same goes for flying within the US from state to state with medical (or recreational) cannabis. In fact, due to the mandatory checks and security while flying, doing so is potentially even more risky and can result in very serious fines, punishments, and consequences.
There are some exceptions. For instance, occasionally, police authorities in Oregon may let travelers fly to another city or town inside the state without having to get rid of their stash. However, if you are caught in a state like Kansas or Idaho, you will be sent behind bars.
It goes without saying boat or train travel has the same regulations too, so there really is no way to legally transport medical or recreational cannabis for personal use across borders.
Can You Fly with Cannabis Internationally?
Once again, flying with cannabis remains illegal, even when done internationally. Very few countries recognize cannabis as a legal substance, and for those that do, there are often extreme restrictions and requirements, the main one being that cannabis should only be consumed within the country or origin or even at times in precise settings.
So What’s the Solution?
Suppose you want to enjoy medical (or recreational) cannabis. In that case, you must do so within a state or country that legally permits it, you must meet the requirements, and you must not transport or travel with the cannabis across state or international lines.
Unfortunately, even in these circumstances, there still does run the risk that you could be federally charged for cannabis possession or consumption, even in a state where cannabis is legal on a state level, but this is not very common of an occurrence. Regardless, we must express all the risks and potential outcomes.