Whether a patient yourself, or a family member has their prescription, the issue of travelling with prescribed cannabis is new to everyone at some point.
One of the first things in the process to understanding the laws is to know that these laws only apply domestically within Canada. A patient cannot travel outside of Canada with their medication regardless of what their destination is. Yes, cannabis is legal in many jurisdictions south of our border. No, you may not travel to these locations legally while carrying cannabis. This includes, for instance, a direct flight from Calgary to Denver.
So, what does that mean for you the patient taking a domestic flight with prescribed cannabis? Let’s break it down with the recently changed Transport Canada policies.
- You do not need to advise anyone prior to your arrival or during security checks -CATSA/CBSA are no longer required to contact police upon notification or discovery of your medication.
- Carry limits are the same as ACMPR regulations, 30 days supply or 150 grams, whichever is lesser. (I.e. – 90 grams for a 3 gram per day patient) – extracts such as capsules, oils and others are also subject to the carry limits, and should also be stored in original labeled containers.
- These regulations apply for service flights offered by CAF as they operate under Transport Canada guidelines. (http://www.catsa.gc.ca/medication-and-medical-items)
Now that we, the patients, are all caught up on the recent changes, things are well and good right? Not necessarily.
As with any policy and large organization it takes time to promulgate new information through the ranks. It isn’t the norm, but encounters with airport staff who aren’t aware of changes or even that we are legally allowed to carry our prescription onto a domestic flight can still occur.
What we do when we encounter unknowing airport staff is up to each of us. However, acting like a militant protester, or making a scene probably won’t get you anywhere fast except secondary search bays.
To put it in perspective; if it was our checkpoint or cordon and we weren’t sure on course of action, we would call it in and ask for direction from higher if time permitted. They’re simply people trying to do a job as we are simply people trying to get home to loved ones without undue hassles.
We at Spartan Wellness have flown across this beautiful country with our prescription, before and after these rules, with many veterans and no one has ever been arrested or had anything confiscated as far as we have heard. Relax, provide your documentation, and wait for someone in the know to make the right decision.
As patients who have flown with our medical cannabis, Spartan Wellness strongly suggests always carrying your prescription in your carry-on bag, not your checked luggage. Checked baggage can be inspected by the canine inspection teams, and you can be pulled out of line to explain yourself thereby causing an unnecessary delay.
Education is key in these situations. Know the rules, your rights, and take the time to explain the topics covered here to airport staff and you may just save the next troop a hassle.
The Spartan Team
You may hear discussion of your service injury referred to as a pensioned condition, a disability “award”. Someone may ask you, “Are you applying for an award for your tinnitus?” The usual troop response would be, “No, I’m applying for hearing aids for my tinnitus”. Don’t assume the worst, just a different department and different terminology. Always remember, regardless of how it may seem, VAC is there to help you get the services you need and with more knowledge you will be able to negotiate the VAC process in a very positive manner.
From what we have seen so far that seems to be the exception rather than the rule and barring occasional errors, most veteran patients we interact with feel well looked after once the process is complete. Although timelines are a bit long and errors sometimes occur we truly do have some of the best coverage in the country and considerably in the world, to seek a healthier and better quality of life after service for you and your family. It’s your earned right and worth it to apply.
With most of the process being available online as well as by phone or in person, you, the veteran, have options on how you feel most comfortable approaching this.
Step 1: Your first step is having a diagnosis related to your service. If you do not have one contact us or Veterans Affairs Canada to assist in finding the appropriate specialist
Step 2: Getting the application form
Most VAC offices are open business hours, closing on government and stat holidays. You do not need to be a current client of VAC to initiate contact with one of their client service agents, and most offices have a duty case manager of the day if required. They are able to print off the document you need to get started.
Request by phone
VAC’s phone lines are staffed during business hours, simply ask one of the agents on the phone to mail you an application for disability benefits.
VAC Office Number: 1(866)522-2122
You can download the fillable form from VAC’s website here. Fill in your particulars, and print it. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/services/after-injury/disability-benefits/how-to-apply
Step 3: Preparing the application
Once you have received the completed medical portion from your doctor you need to establish the connection to your service and attach the items requested here;
Step 4: Submitting your application
There are a variety of ways for submitting your application to VAC. To make it easier for you, we’ve included all the phone numbers, addresses and websites needed for making your submission.
Online via My VAC account: http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/e_services
In person at your local office: http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/contact/map
By mail: Veterans Affairs Canada, PO Box 6000, Matane QC G4W 0E4
As always, if you have any questions regarding Veterans Affairs programs or applications contact Spartan Wellness and we would be happy to assist any way we can.
– Andrew Brown, Spartan Wellness Volunteer
“Soldier On Changed My Life.”
Five simple words that we have heard from many veterans. For those that are unfamiliar with the work that Soldier On does, we can personally comment on what an amazing organization they are. In a nutshell, Soldier On provides financial assistance to veterans so they can have access to sports as a form of therapy and ultimately find an activity where we can thrive. The unfortunate reality is that there are many Canadian veterans who are ill, injured and suffering with little to no support.
Thanks to donations and support from Canadians, Soldier On is bringing veterans to a place of acceptance, and on their way to enjoying their new normal. Over 3,500 serving members and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces have overcome their physical or mental health illness or injury through sport and other physically challenging activities as a direct result of the services provided by Soldier On.
Jean-Claude (JC) Migneault, a volunteer with Spartan Wellness, is one of the veterans who’ve been able to succeed from Solider On’s services.
“I did the National Golf Camp a few years ago, and that got me back into golf. It gave me a reason to get out of the house and interact with people when I would normally rather not,” said JC.“I had the privilege of going to Scotland with Soldier On, and it was a trip that changed my life. I have been able to not only continue with golf, but I have been able to get [in contact with] friends that were in the same position I was in many years ago, and help them get out of the house and start enjoying life.”
Nine of Spartan Wellness’s founding members give credit to Soldier On for bringing them from a place where they needed the most help to now being able to help others who have made sacrifices for our country.
Spartan Wellness’s co-founder and CEO, Riad Byne, had his life change after being introduced to Solider On. “Soldier On helped me understand my new normal and because of that we are here today giving back to the same organization that saved my life and many others both serving and those who have served.”
It is with a great deal of pleasure that we are personally inviting all to attend the Inaugural Spartan Wellness/Soldier On donation cheque presentation on Parliament Hill at the Canada 150 Rink on Friday December 15th at 5:15 p.m.
Our cheque presentation will be held immediately following the exciting annual Ottawa Senators Alumni vs. Soldier On hockey game (which starts at 4:00 p.m.), and will be attended by contributor & CFL Alumni Michael Collymore, as well as other generous organizations who have made our donation possible.
We here at Spartan Wellness look forward to not only paying it forward with Soldier On by way of our donation, but we look forward to seeing as many of you there to cheer with us as“Great Things Happen Together”.
Thanks for reading.