As this is being written in December of 2020, there are not a lot of people traveling around the country. COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult in some cases to cross some state lines, and many people are simply not willing to travel out of an abundance of caution. Still, as we approach the holidays, many will travel to see their families; and others must travel for work. This too shall pass, and eventually, interstate travel will pick up again.
In the meantime, more states are moving forward with the legalization of medical cannabis; last month’s election saw both South Dakota and Mississippi voters approving medical marijuana programs. This brings the total “legal medicinal states” to 35. With so many states legalizing the treatment, it no doubt raises the question of those traveling around the country and across state lines- is it legal to bring the medical cannabis along?
Cannabis is Growing in Acceptance
Physicians can now recommend cannabis to assist in the management of many conditions and diseases. Medical marijuana is utilized to help cope with the effects of multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, and much more. For people suffering from these conditions, maintaining a supply of medical cannabis is essential for symptom management.
Because medical cannabis is legal in Florida, it is easy to refill your supply when traveling around the state. However, what happens if you cross state lines? Is it safe to travel with your supply? More importantly, is it legal to carry it with you? What about if you travel on an airplane?
Traveling to Another State
Before you leave on your trip, you’ll want to check with your destination state about their local marijuana laws. They may or may not allow you to use your Florida marijuana card and a recommendation from a Florida physician to buy medical cannabis. You should at least ensure that the use of medicinal marijuana is legal where you will be staying.
If you are in a state that doesn’t permit medical cannabis use, you can be arrested for possession, no matter if you acquired the marijuana legally in your home state. Federal authorities may also exercise this power once the marijuana, a Schedule 1 drug, crosses state lines. (As of this writing, federal legislation to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 is being considered.
In most cases, you should not travel from state to state with medical marijuana. However, if your destination state does recognize your registration documentation and cards, you will be required to register and purchase your cannabis locally.
Important: If you require medical cannabis and are traveling to a state which recognizes your legal right to purchase and utilize it, choose to go by car if at all possible.
Air Travel Poses Problems
As mentioned, this country has not yet determined medical marijuana to be legal on a federal level. This causes conflicts in many situations, such as veterans not being allowed to access the treatment through the VA.
Fact: Federal agencies do not recognize any state’s cannabis laws. Additionally, any property operated under federal jurisdiction is under federal law. – and this includes airports and airlines. Patients with medical cannabis can be detained and even arrested simply for carrying legally procured, medicinal marijuana. Some airports may allow for people to pass through with the proper documents, however, the majority of airlines and airports do not – making carrying medical marijuana when flying very dangerous to an individual. Because of this, car travel is preferable.
All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t plan a trip when the time is right – simply that you should understand the laws before you go – and make plans as to how you will be able to refill your medical cannabis supply if necessary.
If you are visiting Florida, read up on our laws here. If you live in Florida and have any questions about acquiring medical cannabis, call the Sarasota offices of Dr. Daniel P. Stein. The Neurology of Cannabis team is here to help.