Kentucky recently became the 38th state to give the green light to medical cannabis. A whole lot of new patients will be added to the rolls when Kentucky dispensaries start selling in 2025. Meanwhile, new patients are being added every day to the medical cannabis rolls in states where it is already legal. With so many new users now in the system, it’s important that they understand some key things – like potential travel issues.
Medical cannabis isn’t like a prescription antibiotic. It is not like a prescription sleeping pill or pain medication. Medical cannabis exists in a league of its own. It has to be treated that way. If you are a medical cannabis patient and are planning to travel, don’t just assume you can do what you want.
There are things you can and cannot do with medical cannabis.
1. You Can’t Take It On a Plane
Marijuana is still illegal in the federal government’s eyes. That presents a big problem for people who travel by plane. Commercial aviation in this country is regulated by the federal government. Therefore, travelers are not allowed to carry illegal substances on a commercial flight. There are no exceptions.
To be as clear and straightforward as possible, you cannot fly with medical cannabis in your possession. It cannot be on your person. It cannot be in your carry-on luggage. It cannot be in your checked bags.
2. You Can’t Transport It Across State Lines
As a medical cannabis patient, you might assume that you can get around the plane issue by driving to your destination. That’s fine as long as your destination is in the same state. If not, driving doesn’t help. Why? Because it is also illegal to carry cannabis across state lines. Doing so is considered interstate transport, and that is also regulated by federal law.
In addition, many states have written their own laws prohibiting visitors from carrying medical cannabis across the border from other states. Utah is one of them. If you legally purchase cannabis in Colorado for example, you cannot drive it across the border into Utah.
3. You Might Be Able to Buy Locally
Speaking of Utah, you might not have to go without medical cannabis when you travel if you choose the right destination. Park City’s Deseret Wellness medical cannabis pharmacy says that Utah offers a temporary medical cannabis card for out-of-state visitors that meet certain qualifications. Visitors can apply for up to two cards annually, with each card good for several weeks.
Not every state offers similar programs. As for traveling out of the country, there are different laws to contend with. You would have to check the laws governing your destination. Whenever you do, it is not wise to take chances in other countries. You may not enjoy the same legal protections elsewhere. Even a minor marijuana charge could be a lot more serious in your vacation destination as compared to here in the U.S.
4. A Card Doesn’t Guarantee Legal Protection
Finally, being in possession of a valid medical cannabis card issued by your state doesn’t guarantee legal protection outside of your state. Many states do not recognize medical cannabis cards from other jurisdictions. Outside of the country, your card is virtually worthless.
More than three-dozen states may have legalized medical cannabis, but the benefits of such legalization are somewhat limited. Traveling with medical cannabis remains difficult for anyone who intends to travel outside of state borders. That is not likely to change until federal law changes. And even at that, it may still be difficult to travel with medical cannabis overseas.