Your Rights When Traveling with Medical Marijuana

Lots of people may think that there’s no reason to leave California. With sunny weather and a wide variety of cities, people, cuisines and activities, residents of the Golden State could be forgiven for staying put. However, if you’re someone who has been bitten by the travel bug, what options do you have for traveling with your medical marijuana?

It can be scary and alienating, so read our handy guide to the logistics of traveling with medical marijuana before the pre-travel panic sets in! It is not easy to travel with MMJ, so if you’re really panicking, it may be better to stay within California. However, if you really want or need to travel and if you’re able to follow some of our advice, you may find the process slightly less stressful.

Traveling by Car

MMJ Recs - car

As medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, things can become tricky when you leave sunny California.

Arguably, this is probably the easiest option as you’re the boss in terms of what goes in and out of your vehicle. It may limit you in terms of how far you can go, but as far as the roads are concerned, you should be OK — as long as you don’t cause trouble.

You need to become familiar with the medical marijuana laws of the state to which you are traveling. As medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, things can become tricky when you leave sunny California. The bad news is that even if you travel somewhere with legal medical marijuana, you may not be able to bring MMJ products from another state across the border. You will also be unable to buy medical marijuana without a valid MMJ card for that state, for which you must be a legal resident.

In addition, for those who grow their own, it is usually illegal to transport marijuana plants across state borders, regardless of the medical marijuana laws in your home state and the state you’re traveling to.

If you’re worried about the legality, it may be easier to stay home, but it is possible to be discreet in your MMJ use if you’re careful. Obviously, avoid toking up in public, and stick to odorless vaping as this can be disguised as tobacco. Even better is edibles as they can be easily disguised as run-of-the-mill food items — as long as you don’t share them with anyone! 

Traveling by Train

The same rules apply with traveling by train as by car except that you will have to be more discreet as you will be surrounded by fellow passengers and rail staff. In addition, you will be subject to the rules and regulations of your rail carrier, which will likely follow federal law, which states that marijuana is an illegal drug.

It is also illegal to smoke on most trains, so vaping or smoking is out regardless of your preference. It may be easier to employ edibles, as advised above, or tinctures, which are an excellent option when you’re in need of a discreet way to take your medical marijuana.

 Traveling by Air

MMJ Recs - airplane

Federal law is also the letter of the land in airports, so the TSA is likely to be harsh on patients who travel with MMJ, regardless of their legal status in their home state.

Air is by far the most difficult option when traveling with medical marijuana. The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, carry out incredibly strict bag checks, and sniffer dogs are often employed in major airports to detect drugs. Federal law is also the letter of the land in airports, so the TSA is likely to be harsh on patients who travel with MMJ, regardless of their legal status in their home state.

The reality is that you are unlikely to get away with traveling with any form of medical marijuana, be it buds, oil, tinctures or edibles. The TSA is just too strict, and the checks carried out are just too thorough. If caught with any form of marijuana, be it recreational or medicinal, the TSA can confiscate your items or refer you to law enforcement, who can arrest, charge or caution you depending on the severity of your offense.

Sadly, the medical marijuana laws at a federal level have failed to catch up with the 29 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have legalized cannabis for medical usage, and federal laws govern most of the traveling that happens in the U.S. If in doubt, it’s better to travel without your medical marijuana as it is often just not worth the legal trouble.

If you’re unable to go without, research vacation options within California. From wine country in Napa to glamorous Los Angeles and techy San Francisco, there are lots of options open to you as a user of medical marijuana. Sometimes it’s just better to have the peace of mind that comes with staying put and being able to go about your business as you see fit while treating your conditions in the way you’re able to in California. Happy travels!

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