Back in 2001 I was one of the first few hundred people in Canada to acquire an Exemption 56 to legally grow, use, and possess marijuana for medical purposes. I have therefore had the pleasure of flying in Canada a number of times with my legal limit in my carry-on luggage. Carrying a half pound of ganja onto a commercial aircraft post-9/11 may seem somewhat foolhardy at first but when people have the power of the law to back them up we tend to be very defensive, even working up a good offensive play.
Lets back up a bit. An ‘Exemption 56’ is an exemption from section 56 of the criminal code of Canada pertaining to the use, possession, and production of cannabis for personal medical use. Having one allows for me to travel with a legal personal limit, in my case that is half a pound/224 grams.
When flying from Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to Saskatoon, or Montreal to wherever, I would bring that entire half pound with me on the plane even if I was only going somewhere for the weekend. As a Boy Scout I learned to be prepared and who knows what might happen while away? That’s basically my reasoning and Health Canada’s for allowing those with exemptions to carry such large amounts: it gives us the freedom to not have to go looking for medicine while away from home.
To make things easy when clearing security I would carry a small day pack and nothing else. In it I would put my marijuana in a large Tupperware-type container along with my rolling machine, papers, and grinder. Usually the only other things in the bag were a sweater or light jacket, earbuds, and my phone. When you add in that my luggage was dank and I reeked of three joints chain-smoked in the outside smoking area not five minutes before and it becomes pretty obvious I wasn’t trying to hide anything from the security screening drones.
One of the best ways I know to avoid being questioned is to act like you own the airport; show confidence and most people won’t question your right to do what you’re doing. Airport security checks are more concerned with safety than a bit of weed, anyway, so as long as you have nothing that you shouldn’t things tend to go pretty smoothly. 90% or airport personnel that had a comment about my joints in the smoking area outside, or from reeking of weed inside, were positive.
I must have presented quite the image-me with my long hair, reeking of weed, with my hash-eating grin-and still eight out of ten times I didn’t even get asked for paperwork or my card at all. On the other two occasions there were varying degrees of checking and dealing with bored RCMP officers who had nothing better to do but as I said, it was pretty painless flying with cannabis in Canada over the last twelve years.
The new Canadian medical cannabis laws don’t say much about flying with legal medication so I’m still going to travel with what was my legal amount, and wait and see what comes from the recent court challenges to the new laws. With these new changes and the fact the cannabis use is becoming more socially acceptable everyday, prepare to see even more regulations coming regarding travelling with buds on a plane.
As for actually medicating, for a time it was pretty easy to use a portable vaporizer on a plane but those days are ending: Canadian airlines now prohibit the use of these devices on their aircraft. So stash the rollies and pass the brownies, there’s more than one way to fly high.