For the average Canadian, travelling can be stressful. Line-ups, delays, baggage checks and security screenings all have the potential to test your patience. And when you’re a medicinal marijuana user, that stress can be amplified.
Doctors and licensed producers (LP) aren’t tasked with informing patients on the rules of travelling with their medicine—it’s up to you to know the guidelines when it comes to boarding a plane with medicinal cannabis. Here are some key points for Canadian travellers to consider before heading to the airport with their medicinal marijuana.
When Travelling Abroad, Leave Your Cannabis at Home
If you’re Canadian, you can only travel with your medicinal marijuana domestically. When it comes to international travel, the rule is straightforward: Leave your cannabis at home.
It’s illegal to travel internationally with it, even to parts of the world where marijuana is legal. Those caught flying internationally with medical cannabis can face serious legal consequences and travel bans.
Bring the Right Documents When Traveling Domestically With Cannabis
When it comes to domestic travel, a statement on the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority website says that medical marijuana is permitted in carry-on and checked luggage, but that travellers must be prepared to show medical documentation to security screeners.
The website doesn’t specify which documentation is required. However, if you get your medicine from an LP, bring your prescription, the original container your medicine is dispensed in and any other documentation you may have from your doctor. If you grow your medical cannabis yourself, bring your registration certificate from Health Canada.
As of October 2017, airport police are only notified if a large quantity of marijuana or cannabis oil is discovered or if the passenger isn’t able to produce satisfactory documentation.
Medical Alternatives When You Can’t Travel With Cannabis
Jonathan Zaid is the founder and executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana. He says many patients have expressed concerns when it comes to travelling internationally without their medicine. He suggests taking an interim pharmaceutical medication that can be brought across borders, which will give some level of relief.
Some alternatives he suggests include Nabilone, a synthetic analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that helps with nausea, sleep and pain. Another option is Sativex, a cannabis-derived sublingual spray that contains THC and cannabidiol (CBD). It’s used to treat pain, insomnia and tremors associated with multiple sclerosis. Prior to your departure, always check that a medication you intend to travel with is permitted at your destination.
The last option, he adds, is to obtain medicinal marijuana at your destination. But this, of course, depends on the local marijuana laws.
Take Your Medicinal Marijuana Before Flying
It’s still illegal to smoke or vape on airplanes, so if you need to get medicated on the day of your flight, do so well before you arrive at the airport.
If you prepare ahead of time, double and triple check the documentation you need, and make sure you don’t run afoul of local marijuana laws, your medical cannabis won’t cause you any extra headaches.
Photo credit: Roderick Eime