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Bringing medical marijuana in from out of state

Traveling with medical marijuana is risky business—sometimes even within your own state. Taking it across state lines can really get you into trouble, especially if you bring it into Texas.

In Texas, very few people are permitted to use any form of medical-grade marijuana. Its use is restricted to a form of cannabis with very low-level amounts of THC, and then only if prescribed by a doctor within the state.

Your out-of-state medical marijuana prescription, card, doctor's letter or ID are valueless within Texas and any medical marijuana that you have on you is illegal.

That fact could lead to more problems in the future with people from other states where the drugs have now been legalized for a while. They may have a false sense of security—and a false understanding—about the legality of their prescription marijuana.

Because marijuana is not federally recognized as a prescription drug, doctors can't really write an actual prescription—only a recommendation—for its use. People using medical marijuana in states that have okayed its use are still violating federal law, no matter where they are. All laws permitting its use go state-by-state.

That can lead to situations like that faced by a California grandfather who was traveling in Texas to visit his granddaughter, who has Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The 67-year-old made several mistakes:

-- He openly admitted to having a pot pipe in his car. That gave police probable cause to search his vehicle.

-- He was carrying four ounces of prescribed marijuana and edibles in the trunk of his car and thought that it was okay because he'd been using the drug as a prescription now for 10 years.

The senior citizen now faces two felony drug charges.

To avoid similar problems while traveling with medical marijuana, follow some basic rules:

-- Ask your doctor for alternative medication that's legal to prescribe for the duration of your trip.

-- Don't bring any medical marijuana into Texas or any other state that's either a non-medical marijuana state or highly-restrictive.

-- If you are traveling to a state that does recognize reciprocity with your state's medical marijuana laws, take your authorizations with you but register in the state you're traveling to and buy your medication there.

Finally, if you make a mistake and get caught, seek the services of an attorney who handles drug charges as soon as possible.

Source: United Patient's Group, "UPG's Guide to Traveling with Medical Marijuana," accessed Feb. 10, 2017

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