Medical cannabis is legal throughout Australia. As of February 1, 2021, low-dose CBD is now legal without a prescription. In the very early stages of legalization, most medicinal cannabis products were oil-based. Traveling by car or plane between states with legal cannabis oil is safer than bud/flower.
Now that there were more than 150 Cannabis products are available For patients, many of whom are flowering, patients are more concerned about interstate travel with their medication. This is fair enough. Our driving laws are still quite discriminatory with respect to medical cannabis patients, and there are stories of cannabis patients being abused on a weekly basis.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about interstate travel within Australia with medical cannabis. We were fortunate enough to speak with practicing attorney Andrew Dowling. Andrew answers the following questions for you:
Can patients travel within Australia with medical cannabis?
Yes really. All states in Australia have approved cannabis for medicinal purposes. You are allowed to move your medications between states and territories. This includes traveling with CBD oil and all other forms of medicinal cannabis. All jurisdictions in Australia are now harmonized with the Federal or Commonwealth Drug Control Act.
Therefore, if you have a prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner, it is legal for you to travel with your cannabis drug, as is any other interstate drug. It’s a good practice to make sure you have the matching script and ID.
However, it is advised that you carry papers with you to support the fact that you legally own them.
What if I described you a flower?
Whether you’re traveling in flowers or driving across the border, as long as you have a prescription, you are legally allowed to travel between Australian states and territories with your medicinal cannabis.
Can a patient fly medical cannabis in Australia?
Yes really. A patient may carry legally prescribed medical cannabis on board flights within Australia. Whether an oil, tablet, flower (bud) or other product is prescribed, you can take it on the plane.
“You may find yourself in an airport attracting the attention of sniffer dogs if you are carrying a flower. But, in the way our legal framework is structured, by obtaining a prescription from a medical professional for a specific product, you are allowed to carry that product with you.”
It is important to note that if you purchased cannabis through an online store or abroad, it may be illegal. Therefore, make sure that you only travel with a product that you obtained legally on prescription through a pharmacy.
Carrying baggage versus checked baggage
“I’ve done some research, and as far as I can tell, there are no guidelines on this. I’m not sure one method is better than the other.”
Since Andrew was unable to provide any specific legal information on this matter, we’ll give you two different perspectives:
Take medicine with you
Some people may need to take their medication while at the airport or on the plane. In this case, you don’t have a lot of options. While you risk getting off work and submitting your script and identification, you know where your medication is and can be sure that it won’t be lost without your knowledge.
My wife and I traveled interstate with flower and oil products in hand luggage and were never stopped or asked about our prescriptions.
Putting your medicines in checked baggage
If your medication is in your checked baggage, you will not be able to access it until you pick it up at your destination. You also run the risk, though low, of losing your luggage.
Another thing of minor concern is a random security check or your bag being flagged by a sniffer dog. If you do not have your medication and the bag is searched, you risk having your medication confiscated. Noting that we’re not saying this is true or fair, there is a chance that it may.
What documents should you carry when traveling with medical cannabis?
“A legally prescribed cannabis product must have an official pharmacy label on it that identifies the patient’s name, and describes the healthcare professional’s name, dosage, and pharmacy. Matching your prescription with an ID is a direct way for law enforcement to confirm that your product is legal.”
The only legal requirement is that you can prove that your medications are legally prescribed. You can do this by showing the prescription on the medicine package or bottle. However, as Andrew said, you can never be too prepared. We recommend that you take the following documents so that you have multiple ways to back up your medical cannabis:
- The medicine is in the original bottle or container, which bears the pharmacy label (with your prescription).
- A note from your prescribing physician or nurse practitioner specifies which medication to prescribe and your dose. If you vape, it is also useful to ask your doctor to include the vape in the letter.
- If approved via the SAS route, get a copy (which can be digital) of your approval letter for the medications you are traveling with.
Having all this information makes it clear to the authorities that you are allowed to consume cannabis. It may also bring you more peace of mind when traveling.
What if you need to bring a vape?
Andrew said, “The range of what you are allowed to carry is what falls within the prescription range. So whatever your doctor prescribes is what you are allowed to carry.”
There are two vaporizers registered with the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) – the volcano doctor and the huskies doctor. As a result, it is safe to assume that it is “highly recommended” by the TGA. However, the TGA writes:
“If vaporized cannabis is used, it is recommended to use it [vaporisers] that have been studied in a research setting and found to be safe and feasible are selected for use.”
You can probably now tell that your vaporizer is not “prescribed”, which leaves us with a gray area. Andrew said, “The range of what you are allowed to carry is what falls within the range of your prescription. So, to the extent your doctor allows the device you are using to consume the drug, you should be fine.”
Because of this gray area, Andrew strongly recommends that patients ask their physician to record in their letter that the physician knows and has approved your use of a vaporizer. The team at honahlee recommend that you ask your doctor to include the exact vaporizer name (and model number if applicable) in your letter.
Can you take your medication (including e-cigarettes) at the airport?
“If you have a prescription and supporting documentation, you should be able to be treated at the airport. We don’t stop people from taking other medicines at the airport. However, with vaping, if you are around other people, you have to keep in mind that your vapor can It affects others around you. You have a prescription, and they aren’t supposed to get what you have.”
If you take oil or food of some kind, there is absolutely no problem with treatment at the airport. If you are smoking the medicine in a public place, it is important to make sure no one else is around.
While people will often say that you can use medicinal cannabis in smoking areas – this is not necessarily true. Cigarette smoking is legal, and individuals remaining in a smoking area consent to cigarette smoke. Medical cannabis is prescribed to an individual, and the cannabis vapor and burnt cannabis residue may enter the lungs or mouths of others. Therefore, if you are fumigating your medicines at the airport, you should do so away from others.
Finally, it is important to remember that the TGA does not support smoking, so if you smoke marijuana, there may be room for law enforcement to stop you.
Is there a specific storage of cannabis that patients should use when traveling?
While there is no “legal” answer to this question, the answer is still – yes. You should keep your medication in the original container it came in when you first received it from your pharmacy or supplier. The packaging that cannabis medicine arrives in must meet Australian medical packaging standards.
Keeping it in the original packaging also means that the cannabis will contain your personal information, your doctor’s information, and your “text” on it.
“It’s not like the laws we have with regards to firearms. For example, it has to be secured and stored in a certain way.
This is a very illegal observation. I’m sure some of the people reading this will have traveled with a bottle of wine that they didn’t seal properly. And they arrived at their destination wearing Shiraz on their shirts. You don’t want to be in a situation like this. So, when traveling with oil or tincture, make sure it’s safe, bubble-wrapped, or whatever means it won’t leak. “
Summary: Tips for flying with medical cannabis
Cannabis is still taboo in Australia, and there are police and other law enforcement who still don’t know that any form of cannabis is legal. Here are some tips on traveling with your medical cannabis between states and territories in Australia
- Make sure the product you take with you is a legal, medical cannabis product and that you have support for that product in the form of a prescription (physical or digital).
- Keep your medication in the original package, listing your name, doctor’s name, and dose.
- If you’ve gone through the SAS pathway, ask your doctor for a TGA consent letter and have it available.
- Ask your doctor to write a letter of support outlining the prescribed medications, your dosage, and product formulation (oil vs. flower). And if you have a vape, ask them to list the vape with the vape serial number if possible.
Remember, if you are prescribed, you have the right to carry your medication with you. However, there is no such thing as much being prepared to travel with medical cannabis. The better prepared you are, the better you are with questions and the more relaxed you are at heading through airports or border checkpoints.