Florida residents can legally receive medical marijuana treatment, but it requires that patients are savvy when it comes to traveling with their cannabis. This is especially relevant to those who need to transport their marijuana outside of Florida, with air travel having its own set of regulations. To avoid confusion and ensure the rule of law is followed, CannaMD is sharing those regulations so every Florida medical marijuana patient is well-informed. For even more information about flying with medical marijuana, check out our other article, “Can I Fly With Medical Marijuana?“.
Medical Marijuana: State vs. Federal Law
On a federal level, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it shares a category with drugs such as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Although legal in Florida for medical necessity along with several other states, it is prohibited on a federal level which supersedes state law. This means that all medical marijuana patients must adhere to state laws and avoid crossing state lines, at which point federal laws apply. This rule applies even when traveling between two bordering states that both permit medical marijuana, such as Florida and Alabama.
Can I fly with medical marijuana in Florida?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not search for marijuana, but if it’s found by chance, they are required by federal law to notify local law enforcement authorities. This applies to all marijuana, including small quantities prescribed for medical purposes.
However, there are exceptions. From the TSA website:
Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state, or federal authorities.
TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.
So what happens if a TSA agent pulls you aside for medical marijuana possession in a state where it’s legal?
Not much, for one simple reason—it’s not a crime.
When local law enforcement is called regarding a case of marijuana possession at an airport, the most they do is inspect the marijuana to ensure it’s within the legally allowed limits of 2.5 ounces per Florida statute 381.986. If so, they will defer to the passenger regarding what they choose to do with their cannabis. The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida has even stated that passengers in possession of proper documentation for their medical marijuana will not be prevented from taking it on board their flight.
Can I fly back to Florida with medical marijuana from another state?
First and foremost, it’s important to check that the state where you’re purchasing medical marijuana has reciprocity with Florida, meaning they will accept your Florida medical marijuana card. Florida, for example, does not accept medical marijuana cards issued by other states.
As of January 2023, the District of Columbia and the following U.S. states accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
If attempting to purchase medical marijuana in any of these states, be sure to review the guidelines of that state. For example, West Virginia only offers reciprocity for terminal cancer patients. Arkansas has reciprocity, but visitors must sign up for the state’s medical marijuana program 30 days in advance and pay a $50 fee.
However, flying back to Florida from a state with reciprocity does not make it legal to fly with medical marijuana. Despite both states honoring your medical marijuana card, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug prohibited by federal law. The laws of both states are superseded by federal law.
Can I fly between cities in Florida with medical marijuana?
This is perhaps the grayest of gray areas when it comes to traveling with medical marijuana since a state border is not being crossed when flying from Jacksonville to Miami, for example.
However, federal law governs airplane travel. This makes it illegal to bring marijuana onto a plane, even if traveling with a medical marijuana card within a legalized state. The limitations noted above still apply, stipulating that “marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA.”
That being said, local law enforcement within Florida is unlikely to take action, as proven by this statement from Orlando Police Department spokesperson Michelle Guido:
The Orlando Police Department will take no action in the event that someone is lawfully carrying medical marijuana in accordance with Florida statute.
While prohibited, the biggest concern with flying with medical marijuana isn’t necessarily the illegality of it—it’s the delay caused due to the TSA’s requirement of alerting local law enforcement. For this reason, it’s imperative that you have your medical marijuana card in your possession if you attempt to fly with any amount of cannabis.
The Final Word
Marijuana, even if prescribed for medical purposes, remains illegal under federal law. The TSA operates under federal regulations whether traveling between states or within the state of Florida. A passenger’s origination and destination city, or reciprocity with another state, is not considered since federal law applies. Whether or not you are permitted to board with your medical marijuana is a gamble, with the decision ultimately left to responding law enforcement.