Marijuana is legal in some form in the majority of the United States. This has led to many people wondering if they can travel with medical marijuana. As long as you comply with the local laws of the states you’re traveling through, the answer is yes.
Flying and international travel have different requirements—read below to find out more.
Traveling With Medical Marijuana in the United States
If you're traveling with medical marijuana in the United States, either by car or on a plane, there are some things you should know.
Generally speaking, you are unlikely to encounter problems with law enforcement while traveling with medical marijuana. As long as you have your state-assigned medical marijuana card or a signed letter of approval from your doctor, the odds of anyone giving you trouble are low.
That said, it’s important to follow a few best practices to ensure your smooth travel with MMJ.
Driving With Medical Marijuana
If you're traveling with medical marijuana in a car, it's important to keep in mind that each state has its own laws regarding marijuana.
For example, in Colorado, it is legal to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use. However, in neighboring Nebraska, possession of any amount of marijuana is still illegal, although the state has decriminalized it, meaning police officers will not actively look to arrest you if for some reason they stop your car while you’re passing through the state.
Having the smallest dosage necessary for your treatment, properly labeled in its original container, will help you navigate any potential encounters with law enforcement. Make sure you have any paperwork, such as your MMJ card or physician’s letter of approval, especially if you are driving through a state that has not legalized medical marijuana.
Some states practice the law of reciprocity. If you have a valid medical marijuana card from your home state, you may be able to purchase and possess marijuana in another state that has reciprocity laws.
It’s always best to check the laws of the state you are traveling to before assuming that you can carry or purchase marijuana during your stay.
Flying With Medical Marijuana
Traveling with medical marijuana in a car is one thing, but what about bringing it through the airport and on a plane?
The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has stated that they do not actively search for marijuana, but if they happen to find it in a carry-on or checked bag, they will refer the matter to local law enforcement.
Even this official statement is confusing, leaving many travelers wondering if they are safe to carry medical marijuana or not. A good rule to follow is to assume that local law enforcement will ask you about your medical marijuana in both the state you’re flying from and the state you’re flying to. If either your departure or your destination state does not allow you to carry marijuana, it’s best to leave it at home.
Many experts do not recommend traveling with medical marijuana through the airport or on a plane under any circumstance, but if you must, make sure to keep it in its original container and clearly labeled as medical marijuana. This will help to avoid any confusion should the TSA come across it in your bag.
There is still quite a bit of gray area regarding traveling with medical marijuana, and it could come down to the judgment of the individual officer, which may or may not go your way.
International Travel With Medical Marijuana
Most people will not encounter problems traveling domestically with medical marijuana. International travel, however, is a different story.
Each country has its own laws and regulations regarding marijuana. So, if you are traveling to a country where marijuana is legal, you may be able to bring it with you.
However, if you are traveling to a country where marijuana is illegal, you will not be able to bring it with you.
Furthermore, it's important to keep in mind that even if the country you are traveling to has legalized marijuana, its laws may be different than the laws in the US.
For example, as of 2021, Mexico has legalized cannabis for personal use. However, it is still illegal (and ill-advised) to bring marijuana in any amount across the border in your personal luggage. With laws constantly evolving and enforcement of those laws often inconsistent at international borders, it’s usually your best bet to not bring any medical marijuana when traveling internationally, either on a plane or by car.
What To Do if You’re Stopped While Traveling With Medical Marijuana
If you are stopped while traveling with medical marijuana, the best thing to do is to remain calm and be polite.
Do not try to argue with the officer or lie about what you have in your possession.
Simply hand over your medical marijuana card or letter of approval and let them know that you are traveling with medical marijuana.
If the officer decides to confiscate your medical marijuana, there is not much you can do about it. However, as long as you are polite and cooperative, the encounter is likely to go smoothly, and you will not be arrested or charged with possession.
Tips for Traveling Responsibly With Medical Marijuana
Here are a few tips to help you travel responsibly with medical marijuana.
- Don't bring more than you need. If possible, try to refrain from traveling with it. If you absolutely must bring your medication with you, don't bring more than you will need for your trip.
- Keep it out of plain sight. When traveling, it's best to keep it out of plain sight. This means storing it in a discreet container and keeping it hidden away.
- Be aware of your surroundings. It's important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. This means being aware of the laws of the place you are traveling to and not consuming medical marijuana in public.
- Have a backup plan. It's always a good idea to have a backup plan when traveling with medical marijuana. This means having another form of medication in case your medical marijuana is confiscated.
Approval in Texas
If you’ve considered medical marijuana in Texas, our board-certified and CURT-registered doctors can issue your letter of approval if you meet the eligibility criteria.
See if you qualify with Texas 420 Doctors in sixty seconds or less. Browse some of our other resources about medical marijuana research and contact us if you have any questions. We know traveling with medical marijuana and other topics can be complicated, but our goal is to make the process as easy and transparent as possible.