Your gifts are wrapped, your flights are booked and you’re ready to get away for the holidays. However, if you’re planning to bring cannabis with you on your travels, you need to know what’s legal and what’s not – and it’s more complicated than you might think. Read this guide to learn everything you should know before travelling with cannabis.
Travelling within Canada
If you’re flying domestically within Canada, you can legally carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in either your carry-on or checked baggage. However, when it comes to cannabis oil, because it is a liquid, the maximum you can transport on an airplane (100 ml) still applies.
If you’re driving across Canada, you should learn the regulations for transporting cannabis. Each province or territory has its own restrictions, but if you’re not sure, a good rule to follow is to keep the cannabis out of all passengers’ reach.
It’s up to you to learn the cannabis laws in the province or territory you’re travelling to; they determine where you can legally consume it. In addition, just because you can carry cannabis in an airport doesn’t mean you can consume it there, although some airports permit consumption in designated smoking areas. Also, remember that you can’t consume cannabis on your flight.
Travelling outside of Canada
Cannabis is still criminalized in most countries, so crossing international borders with cannabis is illegal – in any amount, in any form (including oils) and for any reason. Attempting to cross an international border with cannabis could earn you prosecution, fines or even jail time.
Even if you’re a medical cannabis patient, you can’t take cannabis across the border. It’s also illegal if you’re travelling to a U.S. state where cannabis is legal, since it remains criminalized under U.S. federal law.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection could ask if you’ve ever consumed cannabis. If you say yes, you could be banned from the U.S. for life. You could also be banned if you admit to investing in the U.S. cannabis industry, or if you’re found to be associated with it in any way.
There are more complications if you’re employed in the Canadian cannabis industry. In September 2018, Canadians were warned that if they work in the business, they could be turned away at the U.S. border or banned for life. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Customs and Border Protection clarified that cannabis-industry employees can enter the U.S. as long as their reason for travel is unrelated to their work. That means employees can travel to the U.S. to visit family, for example, but not for, say, a cannabis-industry conference.
Airports in some U.S. states where cannabis is legal or decriminalized, such as LAX in Los Angeles, California, allow you to carry small amounts of cannabis through security in your carry-on. But that doesn’t mean you can fly into Canada with it – it’s still illegal to cross the Canadian border with cannabis. The Government of Canada website states, “Taking cannabis or any product containing cannabis into Canada is illegal… even if you are travelling to or from an area where cannabis has been legalized or decriminalized.”
People from Japan and South Korea should take note, too: these governments have warned their citizens that if they consume cannabis in Canada they can be prosecuted when they return. In South Korea, where laws apply to its citizens regardless of where they are in the world, this could land consumers five years in prison.
That’s a lot to take in, so remember this rule: If you’re staying within Canada, learn the laws of the region you’re travelling to and carry less than 30 grams. If you’re leaving or re-entering Canada, always leave your cannabis behind.
All content is based on the most recent information as of December 2018.