Published on October 17th, 2018 | by Daniel Nikulin0
Now Legal, What Travellers Should Know About Flying with Weed in Canada
With medical and recreational marijuana now legal in Canada, flying with weed will soon be permitted on domestic flights.
Beginning in just a few weeks, air travellers flying solely within Canada will be able to carry, on their person or in their checked and/or carry-on luggage, up to 30 grams of the green stuff. The federal law applies to anyone of legal age in the province they’re travelling from and into and on all airlines offering domestic routes with no international connections, subject to Transport Canada’s upcoming regulations (which should be live in the next few weeks).
While the new blanket regulations sound straightforward, travellers planning on taking their herb for a trip should be aware of certain situations that may arise and are encouraged to speak to the airlines directly for specific carrier terms and conditions.
Now, let’s elevate our understanding of the new law.
Legal age varies
Part of Canada’s legalization strategy is that each province and territory gets to set their own legal age for possession and consumption of cannabis. And much like the drinking age, the legal age for handling marijuana differs from province to province.
Currently, the legal age for cannabis in every province and territory is 19, except for Alberta and Quebec where it’s 18 (with discussions in Quebec ongoing about raising theirs to 21).
Technically, if you are an 18-year old Calgarian planning on flying to Vancouver for the weekend with pot, you can’t legally land in British Columbia, where the legal age for weed is 19. If Quebec raises their legal age to 21 and you are 19 (the legal age in Ontario) and flying from Toronto to Montreal with any amount of weed, you would be breaking the law.
It’s unclear how airlines or the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will handle such cases as domestic travel used to be less scrutinized than international travel. An airline may decline carriage to anyone with weed underage in the province they are either travelling from or travelling to, force them to relinquish their stash if they want to fly, or alert authorities to charge them with a crime. It is fair to assume that airline tickets will be non-refundable for anyone denied boarding.
It is also worth reminding travellers that carrying cannabis in any form outside of Canada will remain a serious criminal offence – no matter how old you are.
Our advice? Don’t travel with weed if you are under legal age in either the province you are flying from or flying to, and never transport it out of Canada – period.
Can I fly with weed to a U.S. state where it’s legal?
Absolutely not. Federal U.S. law prohibits possession of cannabis, medicinal or recreational, and even if you are flying on a non-stop flight from anywhere in Canada to say, Denver, Colorado, where weed has been legal for years, you are breaking federal laws, subject to punishment for possession and trafficking.
Are edibles allowed on flights?
Right now, no. Health Canada, the federal department regulating legal cannabis, is taking extra time to develop regulations for edibles, and that includes rules about travelling with them. Commercially-produced edibles will not be available for sale immediately after legalization but everything surrounding them should be worked out within a year. For now, it’s just the dried plant that’s allowed.
Although rare, there are instances when a flight must deviate from its intended route and land where it wasn’t planning on landing. The reasons can be weather related, mechanical malfunction or the more extreme shutting down of airspace as was the case in September of 2001.
What would happen to a flight full of pot scheduled for travel within Canada that for whatever reason was diverted south of the border? It’s hypothetical scenarios like these that are now being considered and ironed out.
While some uncertainties linger, one thing is for sure; there will be a lot more ‘red-eye’ flights at all hours of the day within Canada starting today. And as with any new legislation, it will be a work in progress, and it’s important to understand that laws surrounding travel with marijuana in Canada are subject to change and fine-tuning.
For the most up-to-date information about the carriage of medicinal or recreational marijuana on flights, please visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority website.