Airport Security Relaxing Screening of Passengers with Medical Marijuana


icon  24 Oct, 2017  /  icon  0        Author: Chloe

Within Canadian flights, patients were often scrutinized when they carried marijuana, both internationally and domestically. Even if they had a valid prescription, if they were carrying any amount of marijuana the police were called to airports to verify that the marijuana was legitimately obtained and that the individual was a registered patient. Some airports were said to be extreme perpetrators of this abnormality, and others were very lax in its application. For the last two years, this has been a huge issue for patients who missed flights and reported that they felt harassed and humiliated in front of other passengers for the possession of a substance they needed to treat their various illnesses. Thankfully, this situation has now been rectified, after a long series of miscommunications from authorities and no small amount of hassle to the medical marijuana patients.

A More Relaxed Policy

Travelers who are prescribed marijuana for medical reasons have fewer hurdles to clear at airport screening points due to a change in policy by the agency responsible for security.The Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority (CATSA) recently declared that its airport screeners are no longer calling police when a passenger presents a prescription and is carrying 150 grams of marijuana or less. According to Canadian Air Transportation Security Authorityspokesperson Mathieu Larocque“We decided to change that policy because of the exponential growth in the number of passengers travelling legitimately with medical marijuana,”In other words, there are too many people flying with marijuana these days and it is too resource intensive. And with recreational marijuana becoming legal next year, there will be no real crime so the policy will become defunct anyway. It makes sense at the present time to do away with an inefficient policy.

Larocque further stated that thus far this year the police have been called over 3000 times, and in the vast majority of cases the individuals in question had valid medical marijuana cards. This can be compared to other years where the police were called around 200 times a year. He also said that the department had received a number of complaints, with frequent flyers who needed their medical marijuana being checked all the time. And, he added, airport security are there to look for security threats to aircrafts. There are far more serious concerns which aircraft screening personnel need to look out for as opposed to harassing plant patients. But in the defense of CATSA, they do not look out for marijuana and it is not a primary cause of concern for them. “Screening officers do not search for it, if they find it during the course of their search for threats to civil aviation then they ask for documentation”,says Larocque

But, in criticism of CATSA, the way they proceeded once they found marijuana left much to be desired. Even when patients were able to provide their prescription, they were further asked to bring membership documentation and a sales receipt to prove that the marijuana came from a legitimate source. But they did not exactly clarify the rules. Cannabis patients were only asked to provide documentation, and there was no exact stipulation as to what documentation was required for a long time. Needless to say, the change in policy is very much welcomed by cannabis patients in Canada, particularly those who fly regularly. It could take many hours for the police to arrive, and many patients had to miss their flight. This law obviously only applies to domestic flight, as if you are traveling to different countries they may have their own rules and procedures. Remember, even when travelling to countries with permissive cannabis laws, Canada’s export laws prohibit taking cannabis out of the country without strictly regulated licenses and permits.Even Canadians flying to states in the USA where medical and recreational marijuana are legal have been deported on numerous occasions.

Canadian Marijuana Airline Policy

Canada is probably the second most cannabis friendly country in the world (aside from Amsterdam, possibly tying with Jamaica and Uruguay as candidates). Chances are that the stance will be much tougher wherever you are flying to, especially to the USA. It is also illegal to smoke while aboard airplanes, and most airports in Canada are smoke free. A possible way around this is to use oils are tinctures, which can even be consumed on the plane and elsewhere. A grey area exists with regard to the consumption of cannabis edibles, though you will most probably get away with it. The best method is to obtain some THC or CBD capsules from a reputable vendor. Many passengers use pills as a form of medication on flight and there is no reason you cannot do the same, as you need your medicine in THC form. Remember to use your common sense. Intoxication of all kinds is not acceptable and not permitted. Consume responsibly and do not expect any special treatment because you have a prescription.

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