Can I Fly With Medical Cannabis In Canada?
As a medical cannabis patient, you are within your rights to travel in Canada carrying your medicine. Furthermore, you can bring more prescribed marijuana than a recreational user. A rec cannabis user may only travel with up to a maximum of 30g while a medical cannabis patient may travel with up to 30 times your daily limit up to a maximum of 150g. This is a substantial benefit for medical marijuana patients! However, there are some regulations that you should be aware of before you pack your bags to ensure you don’t run into problems.
Requirements to Travel with Medical Marijuana
Once you calculate how much medicine you’ll require during your trip you’ll need to make sure you adhere to some basic protocols outlined by Health Canada and CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority). First, remember to pack your medicine and all corresponding prescriptions, medical documents and or cannabis cards in your carry-on luggage. Like all prescriptions – your medicine should be packed in your personal care item or carry-on luggage to ensure legality (if required) and access. Should you need to prove your status as a medical marijuana patient, this information should be accessible to safety officers. While you can choose to pack your medicine in your checked luggage, we advise against it as it’s less secure and most airlines prefer that you carry it on.
The labels on your medicine should match the information on your medical documentation. We also suggest that you include your proof of purchase from the registered LP (licensed producer). CATSA’s rules are a little vague regarding what documentation they can require so we err on the side of caution and bring all supporting documents. Furthermore, keeping the medicine in the original packaging from the LP will help alleviate concerns from vigorous screening agents. Original packaging should also help keep your medicine odor-free. Another good idea is to clean all ancillary products (vaporizers, vape pens, grinders etc.) prior to travel.
Flower vs. Liquid
The type of marijuana therapy you take will also play a part in how much medicine you can travel with. As mentioned, you can travel with up to 30 times your daily limit to a maximum of 150g. However, if you take a liquid form of medical cannabis whether a vape, tincture or capsule – you are limited to 100ml to stay within security requirements. We do not recommend carrying more than the legal amount as it could lead to confiscation of your entire supply. All forms of medicine that you are prescribed to use are acceptable to travel with whether it’s flower, oil, topical, tincture or edibles. Check with your airline about edibles though – some have distinct packaging requirements. If you grow your own cannabis, then you won’t have the same paperwork as patients who purchase from LP’s but you will need to carry your ACMPR (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation) Registration Certificate.
As with any air travel, make sure you give yourself enough time to go through security and reach your desired flight. Traveling with medical cannabis is new and the screening process can take time. You can help by being patient and planning appropriately.
5 Tips to make traveling with medical marijuana easy:
- 30 times daily dose up to 150g
- Bring all medical documents
- Pack your medicine in your carry-on luggage
- Keep medicine in original packaging from LP
- Liquids are limited to 100ml
Exceptions to the Rules
As with all marijuana regulations in Canada there are some regional nuances to be aware of before you head off. Although the general outline for medical cannabis use is governed at a federal level, provinces and some municipalities operate differently. If you’re traveling to a First Nations Reservation, it’s important to find out if the rules differ. Reservations are fundamentally their own nations that regulate themselves and are not compliant with the rules of the province where they are located. Furthermore, the rules of one First Nation do not carry over to another reserve. Each reservation governs their own lands, people and visitors. For this reason, you must operate within their regulations so make sure to check with the reserve that you are traveling to.
New Brunswick is another anomaly to be aware of. The province only authorizes residents to travel with 30 or less grams of marijuana, including medical cannabis patients. This means that if you are planning on traveling to New Brunswick on an in-bound flight you may only carry 30g of your medicine. This may be restrictive for some patients but there are options to work within these parameters if you find yourself without adequate supply.
What if I run out?
While Canada’s regulations for traveling with marijuana are among the most progressive worldwide, you may still find yourself without your medicine. Whether your supply was confiscated for carrying too much or discrepancies in your medical documentation or you’ve simply run out, you still have options to ensure your medication is available. You can contact your preferred LP prior to departure to see if they will temporarily change your address to your destination. Most LP’s are happy to be flexible with this to ensure patients are being well-cared for. Remember that you cannot purchase more cannabis than your prescription outlines so the best route is to contact them to find out your options.
Alternatively, you can contact a canna clinic in the area that you are traveling to. This is often a good option but it can mean a visit to the dispensary, sometimes this can be difficult or inconvenient depending on where you are traveling. There is always the option of using an online medical cannabis prescription service like MedScriptter. They make the approval process simple and fast so you can get the medicine you need. It can be more convenient too since you don’t need to visit a canna clinic or wait for a doctor’s appointment – it’s all done via telemedicine. You just need a computer or mobile device to use the service and it’s free of charge.
Traveling Outside Canada/ Internationally
Traveling with medical marijuana outside Canada is not permitted for most Canadians unless you have an export license. Both air and ground travel distinctly prohibit crossing international borders with cannabis, medical or recreational. Even if you are travelling to a State or Country that allows marijuana use – it is still illegal to bring it with you. It will be confiscated, you will be denied entry in most cases and possibly banned from traveling to that destination in the future. The risks of attempting to travel internationally with marijuana are severe and can be life-altering. If you find yourself breaking federal law – reparation and legal representation can be very expensive.
If you are traveling to a destination where recreational use is legal, you may be able to procure cannabis at a dispensary when you arrive. It might not be what you want or have been prescribed but it is an option that you can take at your own discretion. Places that only allow medical use may not be ideal as you would generally need to be a resident to be approved for a medical cannabis prescription and your prescription from Canada generally do not transfer to other countries.
Another issue has recently emerged regarding a controversial U.S. Border policy – travelers are being denied entry if they admit to using marijuana in the past. It does not matter if you are a medical marijuana patient or a recreational user from a legalized nation. Because cannabis is still allocated the same schedule as heroin in the United States, it’s use is still federally illegal. Borders are regulated by federal law and as such you will not be authorized to enter the country and could actually be banned from future entry. This may change in coming years as we’re seeing a shift internationally towards decriminalization, but until that day comes – better to play it safe.
The simple answer if you’re traveling within the country for under 30 days is yes – you can travel with medical marijuana. But as we’ve explained, you need to be prepared and operate within the guidelines of CATSA, Health Canada, TSA and the airlines. An educated patient is a powerful patient who knows their rights and the limitations of the law. Hopefully, you feel better prepared to take that vacation you’ve been dreaming of and feel at ease knowing that your medicine will be close at hand… In your carry-on.