Traveling with medical marijuana? Is it a bad choice?

traveling with medical marijuana

Points to consider when traveling with marijuana.

It wasn’t long ago that considering traveling with marijuana would be a hard no. However, those traveling with medical marijuana have tough choices to make.

Seniors are concerned and confused about traveling with medical marijuana.

It’s that time of year in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and all of Florida. Elderly snowbirds are returning home to their winter residences to ride out the brutal northern winters.

As seniors discover the benefits of medical marijuana they also must be aware of the shifting state laws with Medical Marijuana. Marijuana continues to be federally illegal however many states have implemented and interpreted their own laws related to marijuana. This makes the consideration of traveling with medical marijuana confusing.

The following are excerpts from an article outlining marijuana laws from state to state. As always Abby Services is here to help with your caregiver needs as well as local support and guidance regarding medical marijuana.

A common question from patients is: “CAN I CROSS STATE LINES WITH MEDICAL MARIJUANA?”

Traveling with medical marijuana is the same as traveling with marijuana. It doesn’t matter if you have a state-issued medical card. The question of traveling with medical marijuana comes down to federal versus state law. Marijuana is still nationally classified as a Schedule I drug (much like heroin, LSD, and ecstasy) – this means selling, purchasing, and/or possessing the substance is a criminal offense. Regardless if you are a senior, patient, have a medical need, or are receiving in-home care.

Since federal law trumps state law, this also means taking cannabis across state lines (even if both states permit medical marijuana use) is illegal.

A number of states allow patients to side-step travel issues by permitting legal access to recreational marijuana. It is important to note that this does not mean patients can make medical purchases (although a few states accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards) but that they can simply purchase/possess recreational marijuana.

You may be asking yourself, “OK, So WHAT STATES ALLOW RECREATIONAL USE?”

It’s a valid question. You wouldn’t need medical clearance if a state permits recreational marijuana use. In these states, it would be a much easier answer, when asking about traveling with medical marijuana. Here’s a quick look at states where recreational marijuana is legal:

  • ALASKA

Individuals of legal age may purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries. For more information, see: The Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office.

Possession Limit: 1 oz. usable; 6 plants (no more than 3 mature)

  • CALIFORNIA

Individuals of legal age may purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries. For more information, see: The California Cannabis Portal.

Possession Limit: 1 oz. usable; 6 plants; 8 g. hash/concentrates

  • COLORADO

Individuals of legal age may purchase marijuana from dispensaries. For more information, see: Colorado Marijuana.

Possession Limit: 1 oz. usable; 6 plants (no more than 3 mature); 1 oz. hash/concentrates

  • MAINE

Individuals of legal age may use recreational marijuana. Maine also accepts out-of-state medical marijuana cards (discussed in the next section). For more information, see: The Maine Marijuana Legalization Act and Chapter 409 Public Law.

Possession Limit: 2.5 oz. usable; up to 15 plants (no more than 3 mature); 5 g. hash/concentrates

  • MASSACHUSETTS

Individuals of legal age may purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries. For more information, see: The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

Possession Limit: 1 oz. usable; 6 plants; 5 g. concentrates

  • MICHIGAN

Recreational legislation just passed in November; however, rules for implementation are pending. For more information, see: The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Possession Limit: N/A

  • NEVADA

Individuals of legal age may purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries. Nevada also accepts out-of-state medical marijuana cards (discussed in the next section). For more information, see: Marijuana in Nevada.

Possession Limit: 1 oz. usable; 6 plants; 3.5 g. hash/concentrates

  • OREGON

Individuals of legal age may purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries. For more information, see: Oregon Recreational Marijuana.

Possession Limit: 1 oz. usable in public; 8 oz. home-grown usable at home; 4 plants; 16 oz. solid marijuana-infused, 72 oz. liquid-infused; 1 oz. extract at home of hash/concentrates

  • VERMONT

Individuals of legal age may purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries. For more information, see: The State of Vermont Marijuana Commission.

Possession Limit: 1 oz. usable; 6 plants (no more than 2 mature); 5 g. hash

  • WASHINGTON

Individuals of legal age may purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries. For more information, see: The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Possession Limit: 1 oz. usable; 16 oz. solid marijuana-infused, 72 oz. liquid infused; 7 g. of concentrates

  • WASHINGTON, D.C.

Individuals of legal age may purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries. For more information, see: The DC Metro Police Department.

Possession Limit: 2 oz. usable; 6 plants (no more than 3 mature)

“IF THE STATE I AM TRAVELING TO DOES HAVE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS, CAN I USE AND/OR BUY MARIJUANA WITH AN OUT-OF-STATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARD”?

Maybe. Some states recognize reciprocity with other state cards. Reciprocity means that a state will accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards. Reciprocity laws help visitors avoid a number of travel-related legal issues. Despite any state law, it is important to remember marijuana’s federal prohibition and state-specific statutes. 

The following states permit medical marijuana use and/or purchases with out-of-state medical marijuana cards:

  • ARIZONA

Arizona allows visiting patients to use medical marijuana (with a state-approved card); however, non-residents are not permitted to purchase cannabis from a dispensary. For more information, see: Arizona Proposition 203, Chapter 28.1, 36-2801 Sec 17. Visiting Qualifying Patients.

Possession Limit: 2.5 oz. useable; 12 plants

  • MICHIGAN

Visiting patients with a medical marijuana card may purchase and use medical cannabis. For more information, see: Michigan Medical Marihuana Act 333.26424, Sec. 4(h).

Possession Limit: 2.5 oz. usable; 12 plants

  • NEW HAMPSHIRE

As long as patients are authorized to use marijuana for a condition approved by New Hampshire, visitors can use medical cannabis (however, they cannot make purchases at dispensaries). For more information, see: Therapeutic Cannabis Program Registry Rules, He-C 401.16, Visiting Qualifying Patients.

Possession Limit: 2 oz. usable

  • RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island allows visiting patients to use medical marijuana (with a state-approved card); however, non-residents are not permitted to purchase cannabis from a dispensary. For more information, see: The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act § 21-28.6-4 (n).

Possession Limit: 2.5 oz usable; 12 plants

YOU MAY STILL BE WONDERING “WHAT IF I’M A SEASONAL SNOWBIRD FLORIDA RESIDENT, WHAT DO I DO”?

Traveling to Fort Myers from out of state? Seasonal Florida residents may be able to obtain a medical marijuana card According to Senate Bill 8(A):

A seasonal resident is any person temporarily residing in this state for a period of at least 31 consecutive days in each calendar year, maintains a temporary residence in this state, returns to the state or jurisdiction of his or her residence at least one time during each calendar year, and is registered to vote or pays income tax in another state or jurisdiction.

Some may think it may just be easier to Fly with their medical marijuana, but is it legal?

The quick answer is No.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration (TSA), medical marijuana is not allowed in checked or carry-on bags:

Possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products, such as cannabidiol (CBD) oil and gummies, is legal under federal law in most states. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products.  It’s important to remember that TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Therefore, TSA security officers do not necessarily search for marijuana or other illegal drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.

So what happens if TSA you get stopped for medical marijuana possession in a state where cannabis is legal?

Per Los Angeles Airport Police, which operates at Los Angeles International Airport and several other Southern California airports, not much.

As Lieutenant Mark Gonzales, airport police services bureau chief with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, explains:

If the TSA calls us [about finding marijuana], we’d go up and make sure it is within the legal quantity. If it is, we’d just stand by while the passenger decides what to do with it. TSA may not want it to fly, but that doesn’t mean it is illegal in California.

Likewise, the Orlando Police Department has said it won’t arrest anyone lawfully carrying medical marijuana, even on Florida airport property.

So what does this mean for you?  According to these reports, you likely won’t go to jail if TSA finds legal marijuana in your bag before boarding. You should remember though that unless you want to throw away your medication or miss your flight you should leave the cannabis at home.

Where is medical marijuana not allowed?

Medical marijuana use and/or administration is strictly prohibited in the following places:

  • On any form of public transportation *
  • In any public place *
  • In the patient’s place of employment (unless permitted by his or her employer)
  • In a state correctional institution
  • On the grounds of a preschool, primary school, or secondary school
  • On a school bus
  • In a vehicle
  • In an aircraft
  • On a motorboat *

In Summary:

Medical marijuana state rules are confusing. They are frequently changing and often do not align from state to state.  Anyone using medical marijuana is encouraged to exercise caution. Especially when considering traveling with medical marijuana.

Don’t forget, if you are a senior in need of additional in-home assistance Abby Services has at-home caregivers ready to assist you once you get to your winter home. We have the knowledge and expertise to assist not only with your home care needs but also to help you navigate our state and local medical marijuana marketplace. Please call Abby Services for any questions at 239-590-0861.

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