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Is Traveling With Medical Marijuana Legal in Ohio?

Medical cannabis in some shape or form is now legal in 33 US states and the District of Columbia; 11 states and Washington, DC have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Patients often wonder about the legal issues surrounding traveling with their product, whether within the state they live in or between legal states. It’s important to understand what is allowed and what violates the law before taking your medical cannabis on a trip with you. You can speak with one of our Ohio medical marijuana doctors if you need specific advice on your situation and how to best utilize your product while traveling. To find out if you pre-qualify to become a medical cannabis patient in Ohio, take our quick eligibility survey.

Medical cannabis Is legal in Ohio, but patients taking a trip should take measures while traveling in order to minimize the chance of being charged with using their medication while driving, using cannabis in a public place, or violating other laws depending on the situation. Responsible travel with cannabis reflects positively not just on the traveler, but on medical cannabis users as a whole.


Interstate Transportation of Medical Cannabis

In states with legal recreational cannabis, you can purchase products without a medical card. Some non-recreational states offer reciprocity to out-of-state medical card holders; however, not every state allows non-residents to visit dispensaries or purchase product. You won’t have your product confiscated if you have a card and properly marked medical cannabis from your home state, but you may not be allowed to buy it from a local shop unless you go to one of their state-licensed physicians and obtain a recommendation. States offering reciprocity in some form include Alaska*, Arizona, Arkansas, California*, Colorado*, Hawaii, Maine*, Massachusetts*, Michigan*, Nevada*, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon*, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington*, and Washington DC. States with asterisks have legalized recreational cannabis.(1) Every state varies in the amount of product you can possess without violating their law; it is important to bear in mind that if you will be traveling and consuming cannabis in another state, getting yourself up to date on their legislation and regulations is a good idea to avoid running into trouble. 

Cannabis is still federally illegal, and this is important to remember, especially when traveling from one state to another. “…Federal laws still say marijuana is illegal. Period. While the federal authorities have made it public that they will be turning a blind eye to these state initiatives and allowing the states to determine how to handle these matters themselves (for now), they have not agreed to stop enforcing the laws where they have jurisdiction. One of those places is in interstate commerce. In other words, the federal government has jurisdiction when things cross state borders, and since federal law still prohibits marijuana this would be illegal.” (2) Regardless of the laws in the state you are coming from or the one you are traveling to, crossing state lines with cannabis is in violation of federal law, and you risk being charged with a crime. Unlike a driver’s license, which is honored in all 50 states and many other countries, a medical cannabis card from one state does not have to be honored in another state. Not only that, but what is allowed in Ohio may not be permitted in another state or any other state you travel through on the way to your destination.  Not all states with medical cannabis legislation allow patients to smoke or use high-THC cannabis; some only allow CBD or low-THC products. (3) If you travel with your medical cannabis product from Ohio to Illinois, which has a program that allows patients to medicate with products higher in THC, you are violating the law twice by not only crossing state lines, but by bringing a substance through Indiana not allowed by their laws. 

If you choose to violate federal law and travel across state lines and/or through states where medical cannabis is not legal, you should be aware of the potential consequences for being in possession of a Schedule I substance. 

Section 812 of Title 21 of the U.S. Code, the Schedule of Controlled Substances makes no distinction between a legal state, a medical state, or an illegal state. Violating this section is a federal crime and could earn you a drug trafficking charge, even for the lowest tier of cannabis.

For the possession of:

  • 1 kilogram or less of hash oil
  • 10 kilograms or less of hashish
  • 1 to 49 cannabis plants
  • Less than 50 kilograms of cannabis flower

The penalties are:

  • 1st offense: up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 to $1 million
  • 2nd offense: up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000 to $2 million

Basically, it doesn’t matter if it’s a gram or 50 kilograms of cannabis–the penalty remains the same.” (4)

If you are choosing to travel by air, remember that airports and airplanes fall under federal jurisdiction. You can travel with CBD oil and FDA-approved low-THC cannabis products, but putting high-THC items in your checked luggage or carry-on bags is not allowed and can result in legal penalties if discovered. (5) While TSA employees do not actively screen for cannabis, if they find it they have the option of contacting local law enforcement. 

Traveling with Medical Cannabis in Ohio

Ohio medical cannabis patients are allowed to travel within the state with their medical cannabis, but they cannot use it while driving.  Patients need to be careful where they medicate since public consumption of medical cannabis violates state statutes. Make sure not to have more product with you than the state allows:

“A non-terminal registered patient or caregiver can buy the following amounts of medical marijuana every 90 days:

  • Up to 8 ounces of tier I medical cannabis. (Tier 1 cannabis must test at or below 23 percent THC)
  • Up to 5.3 ounces of tier II medical cannabis. (Tier 2 cannabis must test above 23 percent THC but not more than 35 percent THC)
  • Patches, lotions, creams, and other topical forms of medical cannabis totaling no more than 26.55 grams of THC.
  • Up to 9.9 grams of THC from cannabis oil, tincture, capsules, and other edible forms.
  • And, up to 53.1 grams of THC in oil for vaporization.” (5)

It is recommended that patients needing to medicate while traveling within the state only take what they need for the duration of their trip. Keep the cannabis out of sight, in its original containers, and out of reach of the driver. Putting it in a locked safe in the back seat or in the trunk is a good idea. Avoid schools, day care centers, parks, and other drug-free zones in order to remain in compliance and prevent maximum sentences in federal court if charged with violating their regulations. (6)

If you will be gone for an extended period of time, consider using alternatives like edibles or transdermal patches that offer extended periods of effectiveness. If there are dispensaries near your destination, you can purchase products from them instead of traveling with enough to last the entire journey. 

Patients traveling with medical cannabis should always carry their patient ID card. If stopped by law enforcement for any reason, this will help avoid complications due to the discovery of cannabis or related delivery devices. Taking some basic precautions will help your trip be as stress- and complication-free as possible. 

  1. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/which-us-states-accept-out-of-state-medical-marijuana-authorizati
  2. https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/can-you-travel-across-state-lines-with-legally-obtained-marijuana-31789
  3. http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
  4. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/can-you-transport-cannabis-between-two-legal-states
  5. https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/07/ohios-medical-weed-program-questions-and-answers/1045579001/
  6. https://www.surterra.com/learn/traveling-with-medical-marijuana/