After a few years of being grounded due to COVID plus plenty of other busy periods in my life, I faced three nights with friends in France in a holiday house packed with lots of wine and food. I was keen to take my medicine with me, and needed to understand the risks of traveling with medical cannabis.
The area was lovely countryside and had some cracking trail runs to offer. But having been a medical cannabis patient for over a year I had never actually taken my medicine abroad to another country before.
The idea of walking through an airport security terminal with a pot of really smelly weed sent my anxiety through the roof. I know medical cannabis is legal in the UK but patients still get harassed by the police and other people and there’s many cases of medication being confiscated, and that’s just in the UK.
I had no idea what to expect either at UK airports, on the plane going through customs whilst in another country, or actually just using my medication during the short holiday. So I did some research, and I checked a reliable source that any self-respecting scholar would refer to, by consulting Reddit, and finding a few stories of other patients who had traveled with medical cannabis.
I also spoke to my clinic, and managed to successfully navigate my holiday without my cannabis being detained at the airport. Or me for that matter!
Here’s my guide to travelling with your medical cannabis.
Understanding the legal landscape when traveling with medical cannabis
The legal status of cannabis, even for medical use, varies greatly from country to country. In some places, it’s completely illegal, while in others, it’s legal for medical use, and in others still, it’s completely legal.
Therefore, it’s crucial to check the specific laws of the country you’re planning to visit. I personally wouldn’t be comfortable traveling with medical cannabis to a country that I didn’t already know quite well or didn’t have a good grasp of the language. was.
Preparing for your trip with medical cannabis
Preparation is key when planning to travel with medical cannabis.
Start by obtaining a letter from your clinic or healthcare provider confirming your need for medical cannabis. This letter should include details about your condition, the prescribed dosage, and the necessity of your medication.
Keep all your medical cannabis in its original packaging, and make sure to bring along any associated paperwork, such as prescriptions or medical records. These documents will be crucial in proving the legitimacy of your medication if questioned.
Before you leave, check with the embassy of the country you’re visiting to understand their specific rules and regulations regarding medical cannabis.
To be honest I tried to contact the French Embassy but it was difficult. Their website is pretty antiquated and I didn’t get a response that quickly. However I did see some really useful snapshots on Reddit of emails between UK patients and the French Embassy who had kindly confirmed that you basically need to have prescription to justify your control medicine.
At the airport with medical cannabis
At the airport, expect to go through routine security checks. When packing your medical cannabis, place it in a location that’s easily accessible in case you need to show it to security officers.
I just used a smell proof bag and put my prescription letter and medication altogether and then put it separately into the tray at the security checks at the airport. Nobody challenged me or even asked any questions.
If challenged by security, remain calm and present your documentation. Remember, you have the right to travel with your medication as long as you’ve followed all necessary protocols.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, continue to respect the local laws and regulations regarding medical cannabis.
Store your medication safely and use it responsibly. Remember, you’re a guest in this country, and it’s important to respect their rules, even if they differ from those in the UK.
Random gin on the plane to calm my nerves!
Returning home after traveling with medical cannabis
When preparing for your return journey, ensure you have all necessary documentation and that your medical cannabis is properly packaged.
UK customs are just as likely to check your belongings as those in other countries, so be prepared to show your documentation if asked.
The zen word on traveling with medical cannabis
Travelling with medical cannabis doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.
With proper planning and understanding of the laws, you can travel confidently with your medication. Remember, the key is to always be prepared, stay informed, and respect the laws of the countries you’re visiting.
Right up until the morning I left to fly from the airport I was in two minds as to whether to take my medicine with me. it was only a short trip and I wondered if I could manage without my medication.
The risk or the fear of being detained at an airport particularly in a place like Paris really didn’t sound fun. But come the morning of travel I knew I needed my medicine and I had a legal right to take it with me.
This guide is just my opinions and a re-telling of my recent experience. Always consult with a legal expert or the appropriate authorities for the most accurate and up-to-date information, and remember that there is always a risk that you’ll come accross some border guard or law enforcement who doesnt know the laws. Plus, all countries are different, so assess the risk yourself.
Safe travels, and stay zen.