As more and more states legalize marijuana for medicinal use, medical cannabis patients discover that it can be challenging to travel with their medication. The Federal Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has said that TSA security officers are not required to look for marijuana as they do other drugs when conducting a pat-down. However, as a medical marijuana patient, you must comply with federal laws, even when traveling in a state where medical marijuana is legal.
7 Things You Must Know When Traveling as a Medical Marijuana Patient
1: Flying with Medical Marijuana is against Federal Law
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strict rules about the possession of controlled substances, which also apply to approved medical marijuana. Therefore, a pilot who uses medicinal cannabis can get a civil penalty from the FAA. In addition, it is illegal under federal law to have an active ‘impairing substance' in your system while flying a commercial aircraft. For this reason, you should always avoid flying while using medical marijuana.
2: TSA Can Search You Without Questioning
TSA agents do not need to ask you if you carry cannabis because doing so would violate federal law. However, the TSA marijuana policies allow officers to search your luggage under particular circumstances if they believe drugs are smuggled through the airport. It's likely that when you're flying with medical marijuana, TSA agents will interpret this rule to cover both your luggage and body. They can order you to open your carry-on bag and ask if it contains anything potentially harmful.
3: TSA Can Confiscate Your Edible Medical Marijuana
While it is perfectly legal to carry marijuana-infused edibles in many states, TSA agents can still take your pot brownies or other edible medication away at security checkpoints. You will have to claim them when you reach your destination, but there is no guarantee that they won't be thrown away by the authorities.
4: You Need to Carry Your Medical Marijuana Card
If you're flying and want to take your medical cannabis on your flight to another city or state, you must travel with an official card that proves you are a registered patient. In other words, keep your medical marijuanas Utah card ready if you travel from Utah to anywhere else. If you don't have this card and the TSA officers check your bags, your worries will increase quickly. In addition, TSA officials may also see a mismatch in your statement – your card may be expired – as evidence of marijuana trafficking, and they may arrest you if they do.
5: Your Medical Marijuana Must Stay in Your Luggage
Everything must be contained in your carry-on luggage when flying with your medication. Even medical marijuana seeds or buds should be stored snugly in a sealed bag and any liquid medications you take. If agents spot anything suspicious and open your bags, you will have to explain how you are not drug trafficking and how the buds in your luggage are legally yours to keep you healthy. The TSA has no problem that marijuana is legal in some states, but federal law supersedes state rights, so be careful.
6: You Shouldn't Use Medical Marijuana While Flying
The best way to avoid trouble at airport security and inside the plane is to refrain from using your medical marijuana in the airport and for the flight duration. If you must use it, do it before you take off. If you can't hold off, try to take a quick nap to distract yourself from travel stress.
7: You Shouldn't Tell TSA Agents About Your Medical Marijuana
You have every right to talk about your medical marijuana card with airport security if they ask to see it or if they find your medical marijuana and start questioning you about it. However, if you engage in any random conversation about medical marijuana with the TSA, the chance they will confiscate it at the airport increases. The best thing is to remain calm and avoid conversing with officers about your pot brownies. Only converse with them about your state’s laws, your perfectly legal medical card, your illness, your rights as a patient, etc. Do it calmly and assertively. Again, federal laws supersede state ones. Don’t act like you are hiding something – that will most definitely put you on the wrong radar – but don’t start bragging about your medical marijuana products to draw attention. Pretend you carry sun spray instead of brownies – nothing special about that. Most likely, you will have no issues flying around and having a nice trip.
As more states legalize medical marijuana, people still need to navigate hazy laws regarding how people can travel with their medication. As a medical marijuana patient, you must familiarize yourself with the TSA's policies about traveling with cannabis and heed their warning to avoid flying while using your medication. While you may feel that there is a relatively small risk of being caught with your medical marijuana, it is better to be safe than sorry.