Life would be so much simpler for medical cannabis patients if cannabis became federally legal. One of the questions I see coming up time and time again on the Illinois Medical Cannabis Community Facebook site is “Can I Travel Outside of Illinois with My Medicine?” The answer is Yes and No. Don’t you hate when people give you that answer?? Sorry, but depending on where you are going, the answer may be Yes or No.
The first thing to remember is that cannabis is still federally illegal. If you are bringing your medicine into a state with no medical cannabis program, you will be breaking the law the moment you enter the state. However, if you are traveling to a state with a medical cannabis program that borders on Illinois, then you are legal to enter that state with your medicine.
Here are the guidelines to keep in mind when traveling in the US:
1. You CAN be arrested by state police for possession of cannabis if you travel to a state with no medical cannabis program even if you are a registered patient in Illinois
2. You CAN be arrested by federal police for drug trafficking if you cross state lines with medical cannabis
3. There are medical cannabis states with reciprocity laws with Illinois. You still may need to register in that state and purchase your medicine there, rather than bringing it with you
Here are the states that accept out-of-state cards and just to make it more confusing, each state has its own rules:
Arizona has a limited reciprocity policy for “visiting qualifying patients.” However, out-of-state patients are barred from purchasing medical cannabis in the state
Maine recognizes out-of-state medical cannabis authorizations. Again, out-of-state patients cannot purchase medicine
Michigan recognizes out-of-state authorization. State laws regarding monitoring dispensaries are lax; some will sell to out-of-state patients, some will not
Nevada is one of the few states to allow out-of-state patients with cards to purchase and consume medical cannabis in the state
New Hampshire won’t allow you to purchase medical cannabis there. However, if you have one of the qualifying conditions in NH, you are legally allowed to bring in your own medical cannabis, provided you were able to get into the state with it
Rhode Island allows out-of-state patients to purchase medical cannabis from one of its 5 state licensed dispensaries
Check out Knowing Your Rights – Americans for Safe Access
Private bus, plane and train companies have the right to remove medical cannabis patients who appear impaired or are known to possess their medicine, even with a card or a physician’s letter. Air travel is the most problematic, since airports are under federal jurisdictions. Patients can be detained and or arrested when going through security. Some airports are medical cannabis friendly and allow patients to board with proper documentation and acceptable quantities of medicine for personal consumption. Many airports in California fall into this category.
I hope this article has been helpful for you to make your own decisions about traveling with medical cannabis and Bon Voyage!