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Vacations and medical marijuana: What to keep in mind

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2022 | marijuana law

A lot of people dealing with chronic pain and other debilitating conditions have turned to medical marijuana for relief – and that’s fine under many state laws, including here in California.

What happens, however, when you’re going on vacation to another state? Does your medical marijuana card allow you any particular privileges? Here’s what you need to know:

You cannot carry marijuana over state lines or take it on a plane

It’s a mistake to assume that you can treat your marijuana prescription like any other valid prescription, mainly because marijuana is still illegal under federal law. As long as that remains true, transporting marijuana (medicinal or otherwise) over state lines is a federal crime – even when both states permit the use of medical or recreational cannabis.

The same rules hold true if you try to transport your medical marijuana by plane. While the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) isn’t primarily focused on looking for illegal drugs, they will confiscate anything they find and report the issue to law enforcement – which can easily lead to charges.

Some states allow reciprocity for medical marijuana cardholders

It may be wise to plan your vacation around existing policies and laws in each state. Some states have “reciprocity” that will allow visiting medical marijuana patients with a card that’s valid in their home state to purchase from their dispensaries.

Even then, however, the laws can be complicated. For example, Arizona will grant “visiting qualifying patients” the right to buy from cannabis dispensaries, but only if those patients have a qualifying condition that exactly matches a qualifying condition in Arizona.

It’s very frustrating and confusing when medical marijuana patients have to travel, partially because of the federal restrictions, partially because of differences between state laws and partially because marijuana laws are constantly changing. If you find yourself facing charges over medical marijuana, take immediate steps to protect your interests.