While more states are turning green, there are still states that have not, and the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance of abuse. It’s important to understand that even if you are in a marijuana state, there are state and federal laws that affect you if you are traveling with medical marijuana.
It’s best to review the laws when you are crossing state borders to make an informed decision and avoid surprises along the way.
Or do not bring medical marijuana with you when traveling within the U.S. and never travel with it abroad.
Rules for Traveling with Medical Marijuana
There are 37 states including the District of Columbia (D.C.) that legalize the use of medical marijuana, but it is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government. A traveler crossing state lines can be charged with drug trafficking if caught carrying marijuana and can be charged with committing a federal crime. First-time offenders are penalized with a minimum jail time of five years and a fine of $250,000.
These sanctions are considered moderate compared to international standards for marijuana possession.
Medical marijuana was approved because of its therapeutic benefits to make life easier for patients with chronic pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, nausea, and vomiting associated with chemotherapy treatment, and other conditions. And it has, if you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, and stay there.
If you decide to travel to another state or country, you could wind up with a plethora of legal issues.
In the Airports
If the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers find marijuana or other illegal drugs, they are required by federal law to confiscate it and turn the owner over to the local authorities. Regardless of whether it is for recreational or medical use. In green states, enforcement officials usually allow you to keep your item when you present a medical marijuana card.
Check your airline’s regulations about marijuana possession. Many carriers have policies banning marijuana, even if you have a medical marijuana card.
At your destination
Travelers should know the marijuana laws of the state they are traveling to. In non-weed states, you can be detained and charged for illegal possession, even if you have a medical marijuana card.
Every state has its own laws. For instance, in Oregon visitors are allowed an ounce of marijuana while residents can possess up to 24 ounces. Arkansas guests should register in the state’s medical marijuana program 30 days in advance and pay a $50 non-refundable fee.
On the road
People might think that transporting marijuana from a weed state to another is OK – it’s not. Once you leave a legal state and carry medical marijuana, you are under federal jurisdiction when on the road.
Americans for safe access recommend placing medical marijuana in the trunk and never drive under the influence of marijuana. Be ready with a copy of your doctor’s recommendation, caregiver agreement, and medical marijuana card. Non-legal states do not recognize marijuana patients.
How to Pack Your Medical Marijuana Before Traveling?
Transporting marijuana is a risky business and I do not encourage committing this offense. If you’re looking for ways to sneak marijuana this information is not for you.
We delved into different tips and tricks of medical marijuana packaging, this guide is for mature, trustworthy patients. Our goal is to help you understand the laws about carrying medical marijuana when traveling.
Driving with weed
Driving and smoking is not a good idea, you are inviting enforcement officers to handcuff you and hear your excuses for billowing smoke. Here are some tips for a trouble-free drive when you’re on the road.
Don’t smoke in the car
A no-brainer, never smoke or vape in the car. Driving while stoned impairs your faculties; your vision is reduced, the mind is clouded, and the capacity to multitask is hampered. Smoking before you drive will leave a lasting scent which will give police officers with delicate nostrils a reason to comb your car.
Keep weed under an ounce
You can’t just go around with pounds of weed, even in legal states. Cops might think you’re a pusher and wind up in jail.
Place your grass in the trunk
This can carry a weight between a DUI and a simple possession charge. If you can’t reach weed while driving, you can’t smoke it.
Use a stash bag
Keep your car clear of weeds, roaches, pipes, papers, and other paraphernalia by using a stash bag. No need to scratch your head when looking for your smoking supplies, it keeps your things in one place. Also, it protects your weed possessions from damage and prevents the smell of smoke.
Flying with weed
Medical marijuana is a must-bring item for patients when wind-borne. Packaging stores make therapeutic marijuana safe and legal to carry. But, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be allowed to bring it with you on your flight. To be safe buy your meds when you arrive.
TSA officers in domestic terminals do security work and not enforce the law. If you get caught with medical marijuana you might be turned over to local authorities. It’s a different story when you’re traveling abroad there are harsh consequences when caught with marijuana.
The outcome will depend on the state’s and airport’s laws. For instance, in Denver International Airport there were 29 passengers in 2014 caught with marijuana. The passengers were allowed to leave after discarding the marijuana. Consequences might have been severe if these passengers were caught in Arkansas International Airport with a year prison term and a fine of $2,500.
Amount of weed
If you are embarking from a legal state, be sure that amount of weed is within the state’s limit. You are at risk if you land in a non-legal state.
TSA and local enforcement officers are less concerned with the amount for personal use, a few joints or vaporizer, compared to a stash suitable for distribution.
For those with health conditions, take your medical marijuana dose before boarding the plane. Consider edibles like gummies or chocolate bars that look like their counterparts.
Bring your smoking supplies but buy the herb at your destination. For example, if you happen to find yourself in the Washington DC area, you could Google “weed delivery near me” or “weed delivery DC” and find all the legal pot shops the District of Columbia has to offer.
Vlad Hughes is a business development manager and digital marketer at CannabizSupply. He has over 5 years of experience in the cannabis industry, specialized in writing different educational guides on Marijuana packaging topics, cannabusiness digital strategies, laws etc.