Traveling With and Transporting Cannabis: What You Need to Know

17 November, 2022
Traveling With and Transporting Cannabis: What You Need to Know

Got a big trip coming up? If so, you have to make sure you bring all the essentials: clothes, toothbrush, toiletries, medications, and… you know where this is going. We are a cannabis dispensary, after all.

That's right. Whether you consume cannabis for fun or for your own well-being, you probably don't want to go on a trip without that green goodness. But of course, the big question on your mind: Can you actually get away with packing your stash in your luggage? Is it legal? And how should you go about it? Luckily, we've got some important information about traveling with and transporting cannabis.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (And More)

We'll cut to the chase: it is illegal to bring cannabis with you on a plane because you are under federal law when you fly. Remember, cannabis, both medical and recreational, is federally grouped into the Controlled Substances Act. It doesn't matter if you're flying from one legal state to another, you're still entering federal space when you're in the air. And depending on the airline, there may be a company-wide policy in place that explicitly forbids any form of cannabis on its airplanes, adding yet another obstacle to bringing products aboard.

That's not to say you'll get busted if you pack some products in your luggage, as TSA employees aren't specifically looking for cannabis in your bags. The agency even states as much on its website, noting that its employees are only on the lookout for items that could endanger crew and passengers aboard a flight. We do not recommend taking that risk though, because agents are obligated to alert local law enforcement when any items are uncovered that are illegal on a federal level. Not only that, but if you are caught bringing over an ounce of cannabis on board, it may be considered a major trafficking offense. And liquids over a certain amount (cannabis products or otherwise) will grab a TSA employee's attention, so you definitely want to leave your tinctures, oils, or any other topicals behind. 

Certain airports may be more lenient, however. In Illinois, which recently legalized recreational use, O’Hare International and Midway provide passengers with cannabis storage so that they can depart without breaking the law or having to toss their products. Not only that, but some airports have pledged that they won't prevent passengers from boarding if they are carrying up to an ounce of cannabis on them. 

What if you're hitting the road and planning to bring a bit of cannabis with you? Should you decide to go this route, it's best to travel in your own vehicle, as you could run into issues when passing through states that are not plant-friendly. While driving, be sure to observe all the rules of the road and avoid doing anything that could draw the attention of law enforcement. And it goes without saying that you should never indulge in products while operating a motor vehicle, nor should you allow any of your passengers to do so.

Keep in mind that if you do drive into another state with cannabis, you're still breaking the law — even if your origin and destination are both legal states. If you are caught, depending on how much you have in your possession, you may be looking at a fine of as much as $250,000 and a prison sentence as long as five years. It's unlikely that you would be pulled over and busted with less than an ounce because this typically applies to large enough quantities to qualify as trafficking. But still, you must ask yourself if that is a risk you're willing to take.

When it comes to public transit options, the providers will be calling the shots. Companies like Amtrak and Greyhound have strict policies against cannabis, regardless of a state's stance on legality. Local commuter rail companies also enforce their own rules regarding cannabis transportation. And if you're traveling by water, you're better off leaving your products at home, as you won't really know when you've left a region that has legalized cannabis and entered one where it's illegal.


Overseas Travel

Sure, there are some countries with more progressive cannabis policies than the U.S., but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea to bring products with you. When traveling overseas, you run the risk of consequences ranging from a confiscated cannabis card to a prison sentence. Certain countries are more strict than our own when it comes to the good stuff, though you might even get into trouble bringing products into places that welcome consumption, like Holland or the Netherlands. 


Being Smart

Sadly, while you may consider cannabis a travel essential, bringing it with you to another state is not safe. Some medical consumers might not feel they can leave home without it though, so there are things to keep in mind. Review laws regarding cannabis for your destination and make sure to check the policies of whatever company is providing transportation. If you intend to pack products, leave them in their original packages. Check your medical card and make sure you have at least 30 days left before it expires. Make copies of your card and ensure the original is with you everywhere you go. If you are caught at an airport and present your card, you may be shown some mercy, but it really depends on where you are. TSA employees are unable to verify whether or not your card is valid, so you may wind up in the hands of local law enforcement. But if you're in a state that has not legalized medical consumption, you'll be out of luck regardless. 

Have your physician write a note or bring a doctor's certificate so you can present supporting materials should you run into any trouble. And if you do find yourself in such a situation, be calm, cool, collected, and ready to supply the necessary documentation. It's also a good idea to have numbers handy for both your doctor and your lawyer.

If you are traveling to a legal state, you might just have to leave your goods behind and buy new products when you arrive — enough to hold you over until it's time to go home. While we agree it's disappointing that transporting cannabis is not legal, we do have some good news. Because hemp is federally legal, you are safe to pack products with .3% or less THC. So perhaps a good CBD product will hold you over during your trip.

Keep in mind that these are general tips and guidelines to follow. If you want to be extra cautious before you go, we highly recommend speaking with a lawyer to ensure your travels don't end on a major downer — or worse. After all, cannabis laws are in a constant state of flux, so things could always change by the time you're ready to pack.