With Spring season just around the corner, many of us winter-weary Canadians are eagerly formulating some travel plans. As the time for below-freezing weather shifts to warmer days and clearer nights nothing gets Spring/Summer going quite like a trip to somewhere tropical. Arizona, Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Fiji, and many more destinations see thousands of Canadians flood across their borders in attempts to bronze their skin and add some vitamin D to their systems.
These plans are all well-and-good, but when it comes to crossing international borders there’s one major problem for Canadians: weed is legal in the Great White North, but not many other federal borders accept weed like we do. Traveling with cannabis to other countries is strictly forbidden and can incur some hefty fines or jail time if you’re not careful - just ask a certain WNBA star how easy it is to fly to another country with weed products in your carry on!
Simply put, flying with edibles and your favorite cannabis flowers isn’t doable. What are considered legal cannabis products here in this country are incorrectly treated like contraband in most others. While we Canucks wait for the rest of the world to wake up and smell the terpenes, we have to limit our cannabis-carrying to within Canada for now.
Since the majority of Canadians consume cannabis products on a semi-regular basis - 2022 saw a rise in the number of cannabis-pro Canadians to an all-time high of 61% - the question of traveling with weed keeps coming up this time of year. Is it safe to travel with cannabis? Can you bring edibles on a plane? Is it possible to go flying with edibles? How about ON edibles? Let’s look at the best ways to travel with weed in 2023 so you can get the most relaxation & fun out of your upcoming vacations.
Flying is obviously the fastest way to get around, so it automatically becomes one of the best ways to travel with weed. Traveling by train certainly has its merits in a country as vast as Canada too, as does a good road trip behind your very own wheels. Planes, Trains & Automobiles isn’t just a hilarious movie to watch when you’re high as a hot air balloon - these three also represent the most efficient modes of travel that also happen to allow cannabis possession within Canada’s borders.
But what about the other modern modes of transportation? In BC we have Ferries, and across the bigger cities of the nation you can travel by monorail, bus, Uber, even electric scooters seem to be popular these days. Traveling with cannabis in Canada is a guaranteed right & freedom since cannabis legalization came into effect on October 17, 2018. The only question you need to determine when it comes to traveling with weed is “how much”.
Legally speaking, Canadian can possess 30 grams of dried cannabis flowers or its equivalent in other forms. Here’s how the other classifications of cannabis break down according to this relatively new 30 g personal, public possession limits:
Dried Cannabis Flowers: 1 g
Fresh Cannabis: 5 g
Cannabis Seeds: 1 seed
Solids Containing Cannabis: 15 g
*Non-Solids Containing Cannabis: 70 g
*excluding cannabis beverages
Cannabis Beverages: 570 g
Cannabis Concentrates: 0.25 g
This equivalency table shows all the equivalent values of cannabis product types per 1 gram of dried cannabis flowers. Basically, to calculate how much cannabis you can legally have on your person in public, multiply each of these equivalency values by 30 (i.e. 30 seeds = 30 grams of flower, 450 g of cannabis edibles = 30 grams of flower, etc). This table also assumes a perfect ratio from solids to liquids as1:1 - which is likely not exact, but when converting from mg to ml or vice versa this ratio will suffice.
Another very important piece of information you’ll need to pass through all the checkpoints when traveling with edibles, buds or concentrates has to do with packaging. All cannabis has to be in the original packaging with the correct labeling on it. If you grew it yourself or it is from a grower friend/family member you should be ready to tell the full story of how your weed came into your possession.
Obviously, authorities are concerned with trafficking of what they call ‘illicit cannabis’, so a ziplock bag full might raise some eyebrows. To avoid prying eyes and unscrupulous fingers all over your homegrown green, bring labels you used during growing, print an email stating who/what/when you possessed these buds, so on and so forth. Any details you can provide in writing to go alongside your label-less cannabis will save you growing some gray hairs.
We’ll discuss the best ways to travel with weed for each mode of transportation in the coming sections, but first let’s discuss a little current events and future planning. You might not be aware already, but Mexico has actually ratified legal cannabis in their country as well. Covid-19 certainly derailed the progress of their implementation, but similar possession limits, medical licenses and the powers to grow your own buds at home are forthcoming.
It pays dividends to know what authorities will allow on Canadian planes, trains and other travel modes. Of course, many of us stoners like to do things differently and say “fudge!” to the authorities. That’s completely within your rights as well, just keep the public possession limits in mind in order to avoid some nasty business at airports, train stations or bus depots.
Can you bring edibles on a plane? The answer is as diverse and dependent on your situation as edibles are each time we take them. You might find flying with edibles as easy as THC pie, or you could run into some aerial speed bumps that land you in a heap of trouble. So, can you bring edibles on a plane? Yes, if they’re within the ridiculous 10mg of THC per package limit… otherwise they’re better off being absorbed into your system as you check in for your next domestic flight. Dropping edibles in a timely fashion is a true artform, so be careful what/when/how much edibles you take on your next journey into the commercial skies.
Keep in mind that these rules apply across most airlines and cover almost all situations. Some flight companies are more easy-going with cannabis while others continue to uphold stigmas towards weed and its users. Certain flights will be stricter than others (i.e. traveling across border airspace, even if you’re not landing in another country). This might mean shifting your cannabis from your carry-on to your checked baggage, but most times you can keep your legal allotment of cannabis products in the cabin with you.
That being said, never forget it’s YOUR RIGHT to possess, use and travel with cannabis as long as you’re doing so within the limits of the Cannabis Act. Never give ground to harassment from flight company employees or fellow passengers if what you’re doing is within your rights.
Trains are definitely one of the most relaxing modes of transportation, making train-toking one of the best ways to travel with weed. Smooth, traffic-free travels while gazing at the shifting landscapes of the country sweep by, all while being high-as-a-kite in the comforts of your own railcar… What could be more chill than that?!
We’re going to sound like broken records throughout this article, but trains are limited only by the same public possession limits as flying, driving, boating or riding the rails. As long as your buds, brownies, bath bombs or whatever weed products are in sealable packaging, they’re tucked safely in your baggage and you’re not hot-boxing the carriages then you’re good-to-go.
One unique thing about train travel is the opportunity to rent overnight carriages/rooms. If you are traveling by private railcar with the capacity for beds and/or bathrooms then your carriage technically takes on the rules for a private domicile. Much like hotels or air BNB, private carriages on a train allow you to store, consume and leave your cannabis product out in the open. This is not the case in public seating such as on planes or buses or most short-term travel trains. Trains take your privacy one step further than even first-class seats on an airplane - four walls and space between them to call your own, at least for the duration of your trip.
<3>Driving Cross-Country With Concentrates
Maybe you travel for work often and therefore get to pilot your travels behind the wheel of your own vehicle or company car. Obviously, you can’t be high while driving. Nevertheless, you can stash your stash in your luggage and bring it along for the long road ahead. Driving your own vehicle is truly the most free of all the transportation methods. Just you, your cannabis, some good tunes and the endless horizons ahead of you.
Of course, it goes without saying, that you can’t consume cannabis product while driving your vehicle. Even toking on one or vaping in the vehicle as a passenger could be enough to involve the police. The safest way to consume cannabis while in your vehicle is not to - but if you’re a passenger and you’re sticking to edibles, oils, topicals or something else you can consume without affecting anyone else, then you’re in the clear.
Another thing to be careful of when driving to-and-from with cannabis in your possession is to stick to the public possession limits. Even if your cannabis is sealed/packaged away with no feasible means for you to access it while driving, if you have too much on your person then you might be facing some serious charges: distribution. Be careful to count your hoard of pot every time you take to the road because even though your vehicle might be your private property, it’s using public roads so the public possession limits apply.
This probably goes without saying, but since the late 2010’s national bus services have been in sharp decline. Greyhound called it quits on many - if not most - of their inter-Provincial lines, and not a ton of affordable bussing options remain within the confines of Canada. On the flip side, ferries and other boat transports seem to be growing in demand as waterways become more important for commercial and personal transportation.
Similar to planes or trains, ferries will default to the 30 grams of equivalent cannabis unless you have a medical license for more. It is almost unheard of for transportation companies to try and force passengers to carry less than this Federally regulated amount, but stigmatization against cannabis is still a thing so we wouldn’t be surprised. Also along the lines of air travel, marine transportation means you might have to cross into international waters. This is usually temporary en route to an inner-Canadian destination, but always be sure of what’s going on in case foreign authorities have to do checks of your ship.
For instance, people who cruise from Vancouver to Alaska or Hawaii are often told to refrain from bringing cannabis products onboard. You could technically consume the cannabis while in Canadian waters, but if there were ever the necessity to board/search the ship you might be in for some legal trouble. So, if you’re going to travel with weed on an internationally destined cruise ship then be safe and leave it at home - or consume it all ASAP.