Americans traveling with medical marijuana find the going can be tricky. Legal consequences range from being asked to dump your pot at the airport to dealing with local law enforcement. Americans who leave the country can face a prison sentence in some countries with a hardline stance against marijuana.
There are 21 states that don’t allow you to use marijuana, even if you have a prescription from a doctor. If you’re heading to a state where medical marijuana isn’t legal, you’re subject to prosecution if local law enforcement finds your weed.
Any time you travel outside your state with medical marijuana, you’re transporting a federally restricted substance across state lines. Federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. It doesn’t matter whether you go plane, train, or bicycle or whether you travel from one state where it’s legal to another where it’s legal. You’re crossing a state line.
Airports differ in their policies about marijuana, but when you reach the security checkpoints, you’re entering federal territory. The Transportation Security Administration’s screening procedures lists medical marijuana as a prohibited item. The prohibition extends to cannabis-infused products, such as cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
TSA screeners will handle marijuana found on a traveler or in their luggage as they would other illegal items. They refer the matter to law enforcement, and local law enforcement can vary. Even if you get through security, American Airlines and other airlines don’t allow passengers to transport marijuana on their flights.
Traveling with medical marijuana can be even more serious when entering other countries. In the United Arab Emirates, carrying even small amounts of marijuana can lead to a four-year jail sentence. The jail sentence in Japan, which has a zero-tolerance policy on marijuana, can be at least five years.