At the time of this writing, the busy holiday season is once again upon us. Millions of people will be taking to the skies, rails, and roads to visit family and friends. Undoubtedly, some will be cannabis users who leave home without educating themselves about travel rules. If you use cannabis, do not make that mistake.
Whether you call it cannabis, marijuana, weed or pot, the plant remains illegal under federal law. There are plenty of travel implications that come with that. Meanwhile, the states have different rules regarding travel as well. You need to understand the rules based on wherever it is you plan to travel.
Never Take It on a Plane
We start with airline travel. Here’s the only rule you need to know – never attempt to take cannabis on a plane. Flying with cannabis – even if it is state-legal medical cannabis – is a serious federal crime that will be prosecuted if you’re caught.
Also understand that airport security uses a variety of means to identify passengers carrying drugs. This includes the use of drug-sniffing dogs. Even packing medical cannabis in your checked luggage could land you in serious trouble.
Rail and Car Travel
If you are planning to travel by rail, you will be prohibited from carrying cannabis as well. Apply the same rule to rail travel as you would to airline travel. Just don’t do it. As for driving, your ability to carry cannabis legally depends on the state you’re in.
In states with legal recreational cannabis programs, you are free to travel within the state while in possession. However, understand that the states have different rules regarding how much you can possess at any one time. Being caught with a trunk full of cannabis is likely to subject you to trafficking charges.
In states with medical-only cannabis programs, you are only allowed to carry cannabis in the state if you possess a valid medical cannabis card. Also note that, regardless of the state, you are not legally allowed to carry cannabis across state lines. Doing so is also a violation of federal law.
Visitor Medical Cannabis Cards
The prohibition against carrying cannabis across state lines impacts medical cannabis users. Fortunately, there are states that have moved to solve that problem. Utah is one of them.
Pure Utah, located in Payson, is one of more than a dozen Utah cannabis dispensaries. They explain that all cannabis consumed in the state must also be purchased from a state license dispensary. But patients can only obtain medical cannabis from Utah dispensaries with a valid card. Where does that leave visitors?
According to Pure Utah, the state issues temporary visitor medical cannabis cards to accommodate those traveling in from out of state. A visitor card is valid for 21 days. A visitor can apply for a temporary card twice per year.
To obtain a visitor card, a person must already possess a valid medical cannabis card in their home state. In addition, a person must be diagnosed with one of the conditions on Utah’s qualifying list.
Recreational vs. Medical Use
Recreational cannabis users traveling within their own states have no worries. Likewise if they are traveling to other destinations where recreational use is allowed. Leave your cannabis at home and just buy what you need when you get there.
As for medical cannabis users, things can be a little tricky. Be sure to thoroughly research the rules so that you know what is allowed before you depart. The last thing you want to do is get into legal trouble for doing something you are not supposed to do.