Travelling with medicinal cannabis products
Over the Summer break we had a lot of questions from patients wondering what the laws and regulations are when travelling with your prescription medication. Despite being legal in New Zealand, there are a few things to consider before flying with your medicinal cannabis on board.
Entering and travelling within New Zealand
If you are travelling, you may bring a medicinal cannabis product into and around New Zealand only if:
- the product has been prescribed to you by a doctor
- you have a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the product
- you declare the product on your passenger arrival card
- you carry the product in its original labelled container, and
- you are bringing no more than a 3-month supply of a CBD product or a 1-month supply of any other medicinal cannabis product.
Taking medicinal cannabis products overseas
Before you travel overseas, ensure you check how medicinal cannabis products are classified in any places you plan to visit or transit through. In some countries, possession of cannabis is a criminal offence with no exemption for medicinal cannabis products.
It is advisable to keep the medicinal cannabis products in the original dispensed containers labelled with your patient details and take a copy of your prescription with you when you travel.
Where a country requires a letter of proof to be shown at the border, this should be issued from the prescribing clinician.
The letter should generally include:
- traveller’s name and date of birth
- countries being entered and length of stay
- a list of medicine, including how much is being transported, doses and strength
- signature of the prescribing clinician.
Once confirmed that it is permitted to enter a country with prescribed cannabis, it is advised that travellers keep medication on their person, stored in its original packaging along with a copy of their issued prescription and relevant corresponding paperwork.
It may be wise to keep an electronic copy of any paperwork both on a phone and via email, and to have the prescribing clinicians phone number and other contact information handy.
Where is medicinal cannabis legal?
The legality of cannabis varies greatly from country to country. Some allow medicinal cannabis and some even recreational cannabis. Some allow CBD but others do not.
It might surprise you that Wikipedia can be a good place to start. It should have a comprehensive list of all countries which have legalised whole-plant cannabis for medical use.
These include: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
However, guidance from the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society recommends that patients always contact the embassy to check the legal situation in the country they are visiting before travelling anywhere with medicinal cannabis.