As medical cannabis is legal in every state and territory in Australia, it’s generally safe to travel with your prescription within Australia. But, there’s a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning on taking your medication with you to a different state or territory, such as what documentation to bring and how to store your medical cannabis while on the go.
If you’re heading overseas via air or sea, you’ll either have to leave your medical cannabis at home, or conduct careful research to determine the laws around cannabis at your destination or point of transit. Once you arrive on foreign soil you’ll be subject to that country’s laws, where cannabis may be illegal even if you have a valid prescription.
What Do I Need When Travelling Interstate With Medical Cannabis?
You can take your medical cannabis on a trip within Australia, but there are rules set out for patients taking their medication interstate. Thankfully in Australia, laws around medical cannabis are mostly uniform across all states, with some small variations that aren’t relevant to the question of travelling with it.
Firstly, you’re legally required to keep your medical cannabis in its original pharmacy container or bottle when travelling, whether it’s oil, flower or some other form. Make sure the pharmacy labels are still intact, so that you can easily demonstrate that your cannabis is legally prescribed to you. The labels should have your personal information, doctor’s information and your script on it.
While not required by law, it can be a good idea to ask your prescribing doctor to write a letter for you describing the cannabis medication you’re taking and how much you’re bringing with you on your trip. You can also carry a clinic-issued patient card if your prescribing clinic offers the service.
If you were prescribed medical cannabis via the Special Access Scheme (which is how most medical cannabis prescriptions are handled), you can also ask your doctor for the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) letter that approved your cannabis prescription.
Do I Need A Medical Cannabis Card When Travelling?
If you received your medical cannabis prescription from a dedicated cannabis clinic, you may have been issued a cannabis card for an added layer of security. A medical cannabis card isn’t a legal document, nor are they required, but any documentation that supports your status as a medical cannabis patient is helpful to have with you when travelling.
Medical cannabis cards contain your name and patient ID, along with your date of birth and the date the card was issued. It will also explain that you have received approval from the TGA to use and carry medical cannabis for your diagnosed condition and will include the clinic’s contact information.
Can I Bring Medical Cannabis To A Different Country?
International travel with medical cannabis is less straightforward than interstate travel within Australia. Cannabis, even for medical use, is still illegal in many countries. If you need to bring your medication with you overseas you need to carefully research your destination's laws concerning cannabis use and possession. In some countries the penalties for cannabis possession are severe, and they may lack the framework to support the medical use of cannabis. Before departure it's worth making direct contact with a country's consulate if there's any uncertainty over the legal status of prescribed medical cannabis.
Even if you’ll only be in a certain country for a stopover, you’ll still run the risk of encountering legal trouble if the country has strict laws around medical cannabis. This is why you need to thoroughly research the laws at your destinations, including stopovers, to make sure that you won’t be bringing medical cannabis to a country that doesn’t allow it.
You should also fill out and carry with you the official government Medicine Export Declaration Form.
Staying Safe While Travelling With Medical Cannabis
Whether a doctor prescribed you cannabis flower, oil or any other formulation, as long as you have the original container and pharmacy labels intact and readable, you’re good to go.
If you have any additional documentation, such as a medical cannabis card or a doctor's letter, be ready to present it to any law officials that might need to verify your information.
If you’re planning an overseas trip, it may be best to leave your medical cannabis at home, as laws across the globe concerning cannabis vary a lot. In many countries, cannabis use of any kind remains illegal. You may be able to bring medical cannabis on overseas trips, but make sure you know the laws of your destinations inside and out.
If this all seems like a lot to remember, keep in mind that medical cannabis is still a relatively new treatment option in Australia and other parts of the world. Because of this, some law officials might not be fully informed about the laws around medical cannabis.
This can be frustrating – but any extra documentation you have on you will help clear up any confusion. Knowing you have plenty of information regarding your legal cannabis use and prescription may also help set your mind at ease while travelling.