Australia’s Simple Solution for Traveling with Medical Cannabis
Traveling with cannabis in the U.S. is a dicey proposition. You cannot legally fly with marijuana or THC-based medicines in your possession. You can fly with hemp and CBD. When it comes to driving, carrying any THC product across state lines is a violation of federal law. You are still okay with hemp.
Conflicting state and federal regulations make traveling with cannabis a nightmare. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from Australia. There, traveling with medical cannabis is pretty straightforward.
Australia’s ease of travel is rooted in the understanding that the federal government legally recognizes medical cannabis. Our federal government does not. To implement the Australian solution, Washington would first have to reschedule marijuana under a different classification or decriminalize it altogether.
1. Prescription Bottles and Documents
Traveling inside Australia with medical cannabis isn’t a problem as long as you stick to the book. You are expected to carry properly marked prescription bottles and documents with you. As far as the law is concerned, medical cannabis is no different than any other prescription medicine.
For example, if you were planning to fly from Sydney to Perth with medical cannabis in your carry-on bag, security officials would expect you to have a valid prescription bottle with a clear label identifying your doctor along with the exact product and dosage. You would also be expected to carry documentation from your doctor verifying that you are a legitimate medical cannabis patient.
There are some gray areas in Australian law, particularly where vaping is concerned. Doctors cannot actually prescribe vape pens and cartridges. Therefore, you wouldn’t have a prescription bottle with a label as a vaper. Still, your doctor could explicitly state you are a vape pen user in your documentation.
2. No Prescriptions in the U.S.
Domestic travel with medical cannabis in Australia is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. It is not so easy here for the simple fact that cannabis prescriptions do not really exist in the U.S. American doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners recommend cannabis to patients with qualifying conditions. But it’s up to patients and pharmacists to figure out delivery method and dosage.
There are times when doctors get involved in determining how patients should best use medical cannabis products, according to the experts at Pure Utah in Payson, Utah. Pure Utah is one of fourteen medical cannabis pharmacies in the state. Their pharmacists say that doctors sometimes write instructions, but decisions are ultimately made by the patients themselves.
As a U.S. patient, you are not going to get a written prescription for medical cannabis. Rather, your medical provider will help you obtain a medical cannabis card. That card gives you legal authority to buy medical cannabis products at dispensaries like Pure Utah. But you decide on the products you want to buy. You decide on both dosage and frequency.
3. Prescriptions Require Legal Recognition
The biggest difference between the American and Australian systems is legal recognition. That is really what prescriptions boil down to. Australian doctors can write prescriptions because the laws in that country recognize cannabis as a legitimate prescription medication. U.S. doctors cannot write prescriptions because our federal laws still classify marijuana as an illicit substance.
Perhaps one way to begin moving in the right direction is to allow doctors to write prescriptions for CBD-based medicines. They are completely legal in all fifty states. Despite some local police departments and airline officials not being up to speed, Americans can legally fly and drive across state lines with CBD products.
Australia’s solution works. We could make it work too, but we have to change federal law first.