Flying with cannabis: What you need to know

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.

Happy travels,

The Spartan Team

Helping the Helpers

Spartan Wellness is pleased to announce its participation in Helping the Helpers, a day-long event taking place on Oct.28 at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. This informative event will focus on coping and dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and feature talks from local professionals, including doctors, paramedics, police,  and physiologists.

Among those speaking at the event is renowned psychiatrist and Spartan Wellness specialist, Dr. Celeste Thirlwell, who will talk about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and medical cannabis as a treatment for PTSD symptoms. Dr. Thirlwell has helped dozens of Canadian Veterans and Spartan Wellness clients, all of whom have experienced positive outcomes as a result of her unique therapeutic approach.

Spartan Wellness will be the only clinic represented at the event. Spartan team members will be on hand to offer information about health and wellness treatments and programs available through Spartan Wellness for the treatment of PTSD

Registration is $20 or $30 including lunch at Morrison Hall. To register, please email t.snow-keeling@hotmail.com, michelle.mac2006@hotmail.com, or phone 902-623-1473 or 902-318-5959.

If you or a loved one suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and would like information on treatment programs available through Spartan Wellness, please call us at 1-877-219-1255, email info@spartanwellness.ca or complete an Interest Form found here.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Coming Out of the Forces

Transitioning out of the Forces into civilian life can be emotionally and financially challenging for anyone. In order to make that change as smooth as possible, we asked Spartan Wellness co-founder, Riad Byne, to list his top 10 of what he wished he knew coming out of the Forces. In his own words, here is Riad’s top ten.

I wish I knew…

1. What financial entitlements were available to me, as well as the array of other services I could access.

2. To be financially prepared for a gap between receiving my military pay and receiving severance and pension income. The timelines can be much longer then indicated when going through the release process

3. SISSIP is not the final financial support available; it is only a 2- year interim solution designed to be a stop-gap between release and either employment or VAC entitlements. Not all services advertised are easily attainable by all members. Due to the backlog of applications and the administrative requirements, it took a lot of time and patience to complete all forms.

4. My new income was not always adequately taxed at source. Don’t wait till you file your tax return to make up the difference. Ask to have more taxes taken off from your income sources so there are no big surprises.

5. That I would actively have to find new health care providers (doctor, dentist etc) and deal with the fact that I would have to go into all of my physical and mental health history with new people. I found myself going to walk in clinics and it became very difficult getting the help I needed while becoming very frustrated. Take the time to research and find the resources before you get out.

6. After I left, the regimental family, including friends, co-workers and their families, continued with their work. This sometimes meant that I lost touch with individuals and felt a loss of association with my former unit. You lose a sense of purpose and belonging. Find things and hobbies to fill the void, promoting you to get out and exercise your body and mind within your new normal.

7. There are few “fully transferable” trades that equate to good paying jobs on civie street. Despite years of training and experience, expect a pay cut if you’re staying in your field. As good as our pay seemed at the time, there are expenses that occur that you may not be used to, thereby making your new civilian pay seem even less. Plan for this and look to upgrade your education and skill sets. Use the resources to their full advantage.

8. There are many resources available to assist in transition, but you must self-advocate and request those services. Education and/or an experienced 3rd party advocate is key in this area.

9. Adjusting my personal and household spending habits to align with being paid once a month. It was a huge adjustment and can really put things back if not prepared. Be proactive.

10. Include your family in the transition. I tried going it alone and with so much involved it became overwhelming quickly. Having an extra set of eyes and ears is best.

It takes time to find your new normal. Do not be in a rush to get busy. Take the time to find out what you can and can not do and work within that. If you set too lofty expectations for your self it will prove to be difficult and potentially set you back if you cannot meet them. Always try and stay positive and think of positive solutions and, most importantly, remember; you served your country and you deserve the best you… don’t sell yourself short and take the time to heal and find wellness and life balance. A healthy you allows you to help others achieve health as well! 🙂

If you are transitioning out of the Canadian Military and need help accessing your VAC entitlements or require guidance, please email Spartan Wellness at info@spartanwellness.ca, call us at 1-877-219-1255 or fill out the Registration Form found here