Common questions about
air travel and marijuana
The two largest countries that allow adults to purchase, possess, and consume recreational marijuana (cannabis), Canada and the US, have very different laws and regulations when it comes to air travel. Anyone who plans to travel by air in either of these two countries should be aware of some of those laws and regulations, as well as some of the important differences between how the two countries deal with recreational marijuana. The following are some of the questions that an air traveler may ask about marijuana when it comes to air travel in the US and Canada.
For some of the questions, the answers may be different depending on which country is involved.
Basic questions and answers
Can I bring marijuana to the airport?
US: Maybe. It is only legal to do so in those jurisdiction where it is legal to possess marijuana. It depends on what you plan on doing once you are at the airport. If you are flying and have to go past security screening, marijuana is not allowed. The secure part of the airport, which is the area beyond TSA screening, is under federal control, and marijuana is not allowed in any area under federal jurisdiction, including aircraft and aircraft boarding areas. If the airport is in a state that allows the possession of marijuana, the state or local jurisdiction may have less restrictive rules in the non-secure area of the airport. However, some airports may choose to ban marijuana from all airport property. If this is not the case, then you may possess marijuana so long as you stay outside of the secure areas of the airport and don't go through the TSA screening stations.
Canada: Yes, but with one exception. Canada does not allow marijuana to cross any international border, so marijuana is not allowed in any section of the airport where you first have to pass through customs.
Can I bring marijuana on the plane?
US: No. You are not allowed to bring marijuana on the plane. All aircraft in the US operate under federal laws and regulation, and the transport of marijuana by air is prohibited.
Canada: Yes, but only if the aircraft is on a domestic flight within Canada. Marijuana is not allowed on any international flight to or from Canada.
What happens if my plane is diverted to the US or Canada?
US: The aircraft, including all passengers, crew, baggage, and cargo would be under US jurisdiction, and anyone in possession of marijuana may be subject to US laws, which could include, fines, arrest, and being refused entry into the US in the future.
Canada: It is illegal to import marijuana into Canada, so if you have marijuana or products containing marijuana with you, you must declare them to the Canada Border Services Agency
Can I put marijuana in a checked bag?
US: No. Marijuana is not allowed on an aircraft either in carry on bags, checked bags, or cargo. All aircraft in the US operate under federal laws and regulation, and the transport of marijuana by air is prohibited.
Canada: Yes, but only if the aircraft is on a domestic flight within Canada.
Can I mail or ship my marijuana before I get on the plane?
US: No. Federal law prohibits sending marijuana through the mail or through shipping services like FedEx and UPS. All aircraft in the US operate under federal laws and regulation, and the transport of marijuana by air is prohibited.
Canada: Yes. Marijuana can be mailed in Canada, but only to addresses within Canada.
Can I have my marijuana delivered by drone?
US: No. US federal law prohibits aircraft operators, including operators of drones, from carrying marijuana on that aircraft. This would be the case even if you are using your own personal drone. There are a number of US federal laws and regulations related to marijuana, many of which have potentially severe penalties for both the drone operator and the marijuana customer.
Canada: Other than crossing international borders, there are no specific restrictions on flying marijuana on a drone use other than the laws and regulations regarding recreational and commercial drone operations.
Can I fly after consuming marijuana?
US and Canada: Yes, but it may not be a good idea. While US and Canadian laws don't prohibit passengers from flying under the influence of drugs, if you are intoxicated, your airline may prevent you from boarding your aircraft. Also, if you fly while intoxicated, you may not be able to react appropriately in emergency situations, and your behavior may be affected in a way that makes you a hazard to crew members and other passengers.
Because some forms of marijuana, particularly edible marijuana products, may take a while before the intoxicating effects are evident, if you consume marijuana shortly before getting on board, you may become intoxicated during the flight.
Can I smoke marijuana in a designated airport smoking area?
US: No. These smoking areas are public areas for smoking of tobacco products, not marijuana. Also, the states that do allow the consumption of marijuana typically prevent users from doing so in public view, including areas where the public is allowed to smoke of tobacco products.
Canada: Maybe. It will depend on the local laws and regulations.
Can I consume marijuana at the airport if I am not smoking it?
US and Canada: That will depend on the local laws applicable at that airport.
What is considered out of the public view at the airport?
US and Canada: That is up to the interpretation of the law enforcement organizations at that particular airport, and whether there are restrictions on the use of marijuana on airport property.
Can I fly with medical marijuana if I have a prescription?
US: No. Federal law does not allow any kind of marijuana, whether it is medical or recreational marijuana, on airliners or in the secure parts of the airport terminal (beyond the TSA screening stations), and it does not matter if you have a prescription for medical marijuana.
Canada: Yes, but only if the aircraft is on a domestic flight within Canada. Medical marijuana is treated the same as recreational marijuana, and is also not allowed on any international flight to or from Canada.
Am I allowed to fly into an airport with marijuana?
US: No. The US government does not allow marijuana aboard airliners, so if you have somehow managed to bring marijuana with you on your inbound flight, you have broken the law, and may be subject to arrest and prosecution by federal authorities.
Canada: Yes, but only if the flight was a domestic flight entirely within Canada.
Are non-citizens allowed to travel from overseas to consume marijuana?
US: Maybe. If your stated purpose of travel, either upon entry or when applying for a visa, is to consume or purchase marijuana, then you may be refused entry on your current trip and restricted from entry in the future. If the purpose of our visit is for another reason, once you enter the US, you are allowed to purchase and consume only in those states where it is legal to do so.
Canada: Yes. While there is no restriction on the part of Canadian authorities, you may be in violations of the laws or regulations of your home country, or of any country you enter after leaving Canada.
Can I enter or leave the country carrying marijuana-related items?
US: Maybe. Federal law prohibits the importation or export of any drug paraphernalia used to consume marijana. If you are not a US citizen, US authorities may confiscate items that are not not directly related to the use or production marijuana, for example clothing depicting marijuana plants.
Canada: Yes. So long as any items contain no trace of marijuana residue. Keep in mind that there may be restrictions in the country you departed prior to entering Canada.
Additional marijuana resources
http://airsafe.com/issues/marijuana/travel-faq.htm -- Revised 24 January 2017