How to Travel With Medical Marijuana

This fall, Sierra Riddle queued up at security at Los Angeles International Airport with a tincture bottle of THC oil — the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — in her purse.

Ms. Riddle, 31, a nursing assistant from southern Oregon, was traveling with her son Landon, 9, and uses medical marijuana to treat his severe nerve pain from chemotherapy, as well as her own chronic pain. She was on her way to a medical conference in Dallas to talk about her son’s medical marijuana use and was “praying and meditating that we’d make it through security,” when a Transportation Security Administration agent pulled the bottle out of her bag.

“It’s just botanical oils,” Ms. Riddle said she told the officer. “But this was L.A. — they’re hip to the game and so they knew what is was.”

To Ms. Riddle’s surprise, the officer told her that, while it’s illegal to fly with marijuana and he was obliged to call the police, instead, he would just throw the bottle in the trash and wouldn’t report her.

With 33 states now allowing some form of medical marijuana, it might seem that traveling with medical marijuana should be easy enough. But there’s a difference between state governments and the federal government, and if you don’t know the rules, traveling with medical marijuana could lead to an arrest or at the very least, a complicated legal gray area.

How to Travel With Medical Marijuana

Recreational cannabis: Passengers are responsible for knowing the laws and regulations in effect at their destination within Canada. Liquid and topical forms are subject to liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) restrictions in carry-on baggage, and must be placed with other LAGs in a 1-litre clear closed and re-sealable plastic bag. Cannabis for medical purposes: The amount of cannabis you carry must be in accordance with the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. For more information, see Health Canada’s Guide to Understanding the Regulations. Cannabis oil is permitted in carry-on in a quantity of more than 100 ml when used for medicinal purposes, and you will need to remove it from your carry-on and present it to the screening officer at the entry to pre-board screening. However, if the amount of oil is 100 ml or less, it is to be placed in a 1-litre clear bag with other liquids, aerosols and gels. Please Note: Flying outside of Canada with cannabis is illegal.