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

Cannabis May Aid in Combating Alcohol Abuse

It’s no secret that among the veteran community, there is an extremely high rate of alcohol dependency. In the search for relief from symptoms associated with PTSD, too many veterans turn to alcohol as a way to numb or escape their pain.

But what many don’t know is that cannabis may help curb the addictive impulses that lead us to drink and even replace the effects of alcohol.

A 2009 study entitled “Cannabis as a Substitute for Alcohol and Other Drugs”, conducted by Dr. Amanda Reiman at the University of California in Berkely and published in “Harm Reduction Journal” followed 350 medical cannabis patients who were asked, “Are you choosing to use cannabis instead of something else?” to which 50 percent said they were using it as a replacement for alcohol.

Further research based on a survey of 404 medical cannabis patients in Canada was published in a 2013 edition of the Addiction Research and Theory Journal and found that 41% of participants were using cannabis as a substitute for alcohol while 75.5% were using cannabis as a substitute for at least one other substance.

Since cannabis is not considered physically addictive, a growing number of rehabilitation specialists are exploring cannabis as an effective tool in aiding with alcohol and drug abuse recovery.

Under Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) program, medical cannabis users can choose cannabis strains with the right blend of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD) the main non psycho active cannabinoid found in cannabis. Depending on the cannabinoid content of a given strain, patients can reduce the anxiety brought on by alcohol craving as well as replicate the effects that alcohol induces. These effects are also determined by terpenes, the essential oils naturally produced in cannabis that determines a strain’s medicinal properties, smell and flavour profile.

Several terpene families correspond to calming effects while other terpenes can provide a ‘happier’ experience (e.g., drinking to have a laugh) or a more sedative experience (e.g. drinking to get ready for sleep, to de-stress and contemplate). Many of these terpene families also correspond with creativity and inspiration.

For more information on how you can access medical cannabis strains may aid in alcohol cessation, email info@spartanwellness.ca or fill out the Registration Form found here