Summertime for many medical marijuana users means vacationing to sunny destinations to enjoy beaches, camping, or other recreation. Some thoughtful planning can keep you on the right side of the law when it comes to traveling with your cannabis this summer.**
Traveling with CBD or Hemp Products
Good news! CBD and hemp products are legal to travel with in all 50 states so long as the product contains no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or approved by FDA. If the cannabis product is a liquid or food, it must comply with the usual TSA carry-on policy which allows 3.4 ounces or less per liquid item.
If you’re traveling outside of the U.S., it’s important to research their local laws and regulations regarding CBD products before you plan to take any with you. You can travel with CBD if you are flying within or between states or to countries where CBD is legal. The legality of cannabis oil for medical use or as a dietary supplement varies widely by country and in terms of possession, distribution, how it can be consumed, and what medical conditions qualify one to possess it.
Traveling with Delta-9 THC Products
Traveling with Delta-9 THC can be tricky at every level. Local, state, and federal laws regarding cannabis often contradict one another. To complicate matters further, it’s illegal to travel in between states with cannabis.
It’s important to understand that a state medical card isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free-card. Having a medical marijuana card may help you stay on the right side of the law in some situations, but not others.
Traveling By Air with Cannabis
At the airport, the TSA doesn’t have the jurisdiction or ability to check the validity of your medical marijuana cards. The agent could still pass you off to the local police, who will assess the situation. The state you’re in is also important. If there’s no medical marijuana program there, a medical card from another state will mean absolutely nothing.
However, the TSA states that their screening procedures are more focused on potential threats to aviation and passengers than drugs. Their official policy is not to perform searches for cannabis. However, if illegal substances are discovered during security screenings, TSA can refer the matter to local law enforcement. Laws vary widely regarding the penalties you’d face if caught.
Border agents have the right to search your car, person, luggage, and even your phone or social media account. In some places, carrying cannabis paraphernalia can even land you in jail or get you blocked from ever entering the country again. Earlier this year, WNBA basketball player Brittany Griner was detained in Russia for allegedly carrying a cannabis concentrate in her luggage.
Even if you purchased it legally where you’re vacationing, when you leave the state or country, you cannot take your leftover cannabis with you. Many airports have amnesty boxes to surrender your unused products before flying home.
Cruises typically travel through at least three jurisdictions— the state where you board, international waters, and the countries of the foreign ports. The port inspectors may not care in the state where you board, but once you bring your cannabis into those other jurisdictions, you’re taking a considerable risk.
Even if law enforcement doesn’t find out, cruise lines sometimes have their own bans for medical marijuana and the crew has the right to turn you in.
Traveling By Car: Handling a Traffic Stop
State laws vary widely on the legality of Delta-9 THC products (the kind you can only buy from a dispensary), but in most states it’s illegal to drive while using cannabis products. This article discusses legal approaches for handling a traffic stop when you have cannabis in your vehicle.
You can learn more about each state’s drugged driving laws here.
A few more tips for traveling by car:
- Don’t smoke or vape in your vehicle. In some jurisdictions, just the scent of smoke will give an officer probable cause to search your vehicle.
- Designate a sober driver. It may not be as dangerous as driving drunk, but your reaction times may be slower and your ability to focus may be impaired.
- Keep the cannabis you’re traveling with to under one ounce. By traveling with smaller amounts, it limits your risk to possession, not distribution (which comes with harsher penalties).
CannaTourism and Cannabis Lounges Make Great Travel Options
Reading this article, your outlook for using your medical cannabis on your vacation may seem pretty grim. But as acceptance and legalization of cannabis spreads, new options are emerging. Cannabis tourism is surging in recreationally-legal states. Because cannabis is typically banned at traditional hotels and resorts, a need for cannabis-friendly lodging sprang up and ushered in a new CannaTourism industry.
California has emerged as a model for cannabis tourism, with a handful of other destinations across the U.S. developing their own ways to lure travelers who want to use cannabis on vacation. The Michigan Cannabis Trail helps visitors make the most of legal cannabis in the Great Lakes region. And in Kentucky, where recreational cannabis remains illegal, the Hemp Highway celebrates the CBD-only crop across the Bluegrass State. In hot travel destinations such as Nevada, consumption lounges are now legal, making it an even more enticing option for cannabis users.
**Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. Always check local laws and consult a legal professional for any questions regarding travel with medication.
Author: Gabrielle Dion Visca
Gabrielle has been writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries for more than 20 years. She’s held positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop. She currently writes articles about medical marijuana for Duber Medical, and is the founder of the Ohio cannabis journalism non-profit, MedicateOH.