- Jennifer Betz
Can You Travel With Medical Marijuana When You Have a VA Marijuana Card?
Check out this post to learn what you need to know as you plan your next big trip!
At Virginia Marijuana Card, we’ve been raving about exciting developments for summer 2021. Legalized possession of adult-use cannabis and home cultivation—and an ever-expanding medical marijuana program that is easy to qualify for. You can even get the marijuana products of your choice delivered right to your door in most parts of Virginia!
With all the new legislation and national support for marijuana legalization, you would think that traveling with medical marijuana would be as simple as traveling with any other medication.
Travelers throw their Vicodin into their carry-on without a second thought, so why shouldn’t marijuana card holders be able to feel their best while traversing the countryside as well?
In this post, we are going to examine why traveling with medical marijuana is more challenging than it seems like it should be, and what you can do safely and legally to maintain your treatment regimen while traveling in 2021.
Medical Marijuana Is Medicine—Why is Traveling With it So Complicated?
The answer lies in the jumble of laws that states have adopted to facilitate the marijuana programs that legislatures and voters supported.
As of May 2021, 36 states and 4 territories have medical marijuana programs for their residents. A total of 17 states, 2 territories and DC have also enacted adult-use legalization. Marijuana is at the very least decriminalized in many of the states where there is no other program in effect.
However, legislation varies from state to state because the plant we love for its healing properties is still recognized by the Federal Government as a Schedule I substance.
Federal Laws Put a Wrench in Traveling With Medical Marijuana
Even though more than ⅔ of the country has legalized marijuana at least for medical purposes, prohibition is still the law of the land in areas where the Federal Government has jurisdiction and where states have not created laws to address more progressive attitudes about marijuana.
Federal Laws That Could Affect Your Travel Plans:
Marijuana is illegal on all Federal property. This includes national parks, military bases, Federal monuments, and other locations that are owned by the United States Government.
It is technically illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, even when marijuana is legal in both states in which you travel.
Despite the complicating factors, there are ways to keep your trip safe, legal, and enjoyable, even if you need medical marijuana on a daily basis in order to feel your best.
Driving in Virginia When You Have Cannabis in Tow
As of May, 2021, marijuana is decriminalized in Virginia, which means that you can possess up to one ounce of cannabis with nothing more than a $25 fine and no criminal record. You can avoid this fine altogether if you have a Virginia marijuana card, and the enforcement of this law will end on July 1, 2021.
You still need to follow safe traffic laws, and it’s best to remain cautious with your products in order to avoid unpleasant run-ins with the police in a state that is famous for its historically stringent cannabis enforcement.
Make sure your vehicle registration and driver’s license are up to date.
If you have a Virginia marijuana card, keep it on you at all times.
Follow all traffic laws to avoid getting pulled over.
Do not consume cannabis while driving.
Make sure your products are locked away in your trunk.
Don’t drive while intoxicated.
Driving Between States With Medical Marijuana
Transporting marijuana across state lines could lead to serious consequences if you get turned over to Federal authorities. However, this rarely happens, especially in states that have some form of legalized marijuana.
If you don’t get pulled over, you likely won’t get noticed bringing your products with you during interstate travel. And even if you do get pulled over, keeping your marijuana tightly sealed in the trunk will likely prevent any suspicion*.
*Unfortunately, we need to mention that your safety when traveling with or without marijuana is also largely dependent on an officer’s biases and interpretation of the law. Keep this in mind as you make your plans.
Some states and law enforcement officers may be more relaxed than others, but there are some questions you should be able to answer before traveling to any given state (this guide can help you find the information you need):
Does your destination offer reciprocity for medical marijuana cards?
If so, what are the details?
Can you purchase medical marijuana at the dispensaries in your destination state?
Is adult-use cannabis legal in your destination state?
Is marijuana decriminalized in the state you are traveling to?
If so, what are the limits and penalties for possession?
Is there a history of police brutality for certain races/classes of people in this state?
Visiting a Medical Marijuana Card Reciprocating State
Some states with medical marijuana programs in place offer reciprocity to cardholders in other states—even if the other state does not honor their card. Washington DC, for example, honors cards from all states.
The thing to be aware of here, is that some states only offer reciprocity at the level of possession. In other words, you cannot purchase medical marijuana at their dispensaries, but you can possess medical marijuana without repercussions. This level of reciprocity, however, comes with the assumption that you will be breaking Federal laws to cross the state line with your cannabis.
Other states offer full reciprocity, meaning that you can get medical marijuana at the state dispensary with your out-of-state card. In some cases you need to plan ahead. Arkansas, for example, can take up to 30 days to process your request. Other states simply allow you to walk in and make a purchase with no additional paperwork.
Check out current reciprocity laws by clicking here.
Does Virginia Have a Reciprocal Program for Medical Marijuana?
Virginia does not reciprocate marijuana cards from out of state. So if Uncle Ned needs to have medical marijuana when he comes to visit, he’s going to need to bring his own. It is unclear whether Uncle Ned will get a free pass for possessing marijuana because he has a card or not, but adult-use possession will be legal starting on July 1, 2021. Additionally, as long as he doesn’t have more than an ounce on him, he shouldn’t be subjected to any penalty of more than $25.
Having a Marijuana Card Where Adult-Use Cannabis is Legal
In states where adult-use cannabis is legal, then adults 21 and over have little to worry about when it comes to possessing marijuana. You can also visit a dispensary and make purchases.
The main concern in states where adult-use possession is legal, is quality and potency. Marijuana products are tightly regulated in medical dispensaries, but each state has its own set of policies when it comes to monitoring what goes in and out of adult-use dispensaries.
Many dispensaries do offer cannabis products that are geared more toward medicinal use, and you may be able to find exactly what you are looking for if you ask your friendly budtender.
Visiting a State That Does Not Reciprocate or Have Legal Adult-Use Marijuana
If you are going to visit a state in which medical marijuana is illegal and you still plan to take your products with you, then take your state marijuana card and make sure you at least know the laws in that state. Some states have decriminalized marijuana, and possession of a certain limit only comes with a fine. However, you need to know your rights when traveling in order to make sure they are upheld.
Can You Bring Medical Marijuana on a Plane in Virginia if You Have a Valid Medical Card?
Unfortunately, despite Virginia’s new progressive cannabis laws, airport security is managed by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which is a Federal agency. This means that you cannot take marijuana on your flight, even if it is leaving out of RIC and you have a Virginia marijuana card.
At Virginia Marijuana Card, we suggest that you do not try to sneak marijuana onto a plane, regardless of how well you get to know the person who will be patting you down on the other side of the metal detector. The TSA must report you to local or Federal authorities if they catch you with illegal substances.
However, it’s worth noting that even the TSA explicitly states that they are more concerned with items that will be a danger to the flight and its passengers than they are with marijuana and other drugs.
This quote was taken directly from their website:
TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.
Regardless of Where You’re Going, Having a Marijuana Card Can Add a Layer of Protection to Your Travels
Unfortunately, having a Virginia marijuana card is not going to make it legal for you to take your medical marijuana wherever you want to travel. There will still be some restrictions and safety precautions to follow, and you will need to plan your trip carefully. But you will be safe to travel throughout the Commonwealth for your next staycation, and you will also have varying levels of protection when you visit other states if you keep your card with you.
Give us a call at (888) 633-5808, or schedule an appointment with one of our marijuana doctors today, to make sure your summer travels are anxiety and pain-free!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Virginia!