Whether travelling by car or aeroplane, you may travel interstate in Australia with prescribed medicinal cannabis. Get tips from a lawyer. Learn more. You’ve probably met its mate, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC aka the one that makes you high) but what about CBD? Find out about Australia laws and if you can bring CBD oil onto a plane. Can you fly with CBD oil from your chemist or doctor? Flying with CBD & THC Oil.
Travelling With Medical Cannabis in Australia (Locally)
If you are a legal medical cannabis patient you have the right to travel with your medicine. Prescribed cannabis is no different from any other medication, with few exceptions (vaping, for example). In this article, you’ll learn how to travel within Australia with your medical cannabis.
Medicinal cannabis is legal Australia wide. And, as of 1 Feb 2021, low dose CBD is now legal over the counter. In the very early stages of legalisation, most medical cannabis products were oil-based. Travelling by car or plane interstate with legal cannabis oil feels safer than with bud/flower.
Now that there are over 150 cannabis products available to patients, many of them flower, patients are more concerned about interstate travel with their medication. And, fair enough. Our driving laws are still completely discriminatory regarding medicinal cannabis patients, and there are stories about cannabis patients being mistreated weekly.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about travelling interstate within Australia with your medical cannabis. We were lucky enough to speak with practising lawyer Andrew Dowling. Andrew answers the following questions for you:
- 00:25 | Can patients travel interstate, within Australia, with their medical cannabis? ?
- 00:53 | Can patients fly with medical cannabis?
- 01:25 | Should you carry your medication on or put it in checked luggage?
- 02:19 | What documents should you have when travelling with medical cannabis?
- 04:32 | What if you need to bring a vape?
- 05:49 | Can you take your medication (including vape) at the airport?
- 07:15 | Is there specific storage patients should use for travelling with their legal, medical cannabis?
- 08:48 | Recap: Tips for airline travel with medical cannabis
Can patients travel within Australia with medical cannabis?
Yes. All States in Australia legalised cannabis for medical purposes. You are permitted to carry your medication between States and Territories. This includes travelling with CBD oil and all other forms of medical cannabis. All jurisdictions in Australia have now been harmonised with the Federal or the Commonwealth Narcotics Act.
So, if you have a legal prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner, it is legal for you to travel with your cannabis medicine, like any other medication interstate. It’s good practice to make sure you have your script and an ID to match.
It is, however, advised that you carry paperwork with you to support the fact that you have it legally.
What if you’re prescribed flower?
Whether you’re flying with flower or driving across borders, as long as you have a prescription, you are legally allowed to travel between Australian States and Territories with your medical cannabis.
Can a patient fly with medical cannabis in Australia?
Yes. A patient may carry their legally prescribed medical cannabis on flights within Australia. Whether you are prescribed an oil, tablet, flower (bud) or other product, you may take that on the aeroplane.
“You might find yourself at an airport attracting the attention of sniffer dogs if you’re carrying flower. But, the way our legal framework is structured, by having a prescription from a medical professional for a specific product, you are permitted to have that product with you.”
It’s important to note that if you have purchased cannabis via an online shop or overseas, it is probably not legal. So, make sure that you’re only travelling with a product that you’ve obtained legally with a prescription via a pharmacy.
Learn about the laws around consuming your medication in public. Read our smoking and vaping medicinal cannabis in public article.
Carrying on vs checked baggage
“I did some research, and as far as I can tell, there are no guidelines on this. I’m not sure that one method is better than the other.”
Because Andrew wasn’t able to provide any specific legal information around this, we’ll give you two different perspectives:
Carrying your medication with you
Some people may need to take their medication while in the airport or on the flight. In this case, you don’t have much choice. While you run the risk of being stopped and providing your script and identification, you know where your medication is and can be sure it won’t go missing without your knowledge.
My wife and I have travelled interstate with flower and oil products in carry-on luggage and have never been stopped or asked about our prescriptions.
Putting your medication in checked baggage
If your medication is in your checked baggage, you won’t have access to it until you pick it up at your destination. You do also run the risk, although low, of your baggage going missing.
The other thing that is of slight concern is a random security check or your bag being flagged by a sniffer dog. If you are not with your medication and the bag is searched, you run the risk of your medicine being confiscated. Noting that we are not saying this is correct or fair, there is the possibility it may happen.
What documents should you carry when travelling with medical cannabis?
“Your legally prescribed cannabis product should have an official pharmacy label on it that outlines the patient name, prescribing healthcare professional’s name, your dose and the pharmacy. Matching your prescription with an ID is a straightforward way for law enforcement to confirm your product is legal.”
The only legal requirement is that you can prove your medication is lawfully prescribed. You can do that by showing your prescription, which is on the medication container or bottle. However, as Andrew said, you can never be too prepared. We recommend that you take the following documentation so that you have multiple ways of backing up your medical cannabis:
- Medication in the original bottle or container, which has the pharmacy label (with your prescription).
- A note from your prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner outlines the medication you’re prescribed and your dosage. If you’re bringing a vape, it’s also worth asking the doctor to list the vape in the letter.
- If approved via the SAS pathway, have a copy (can be digital) of your approval letter for the medications with which you’re travelling.
Having all this information makes it very clear to authorities that you are allowed to have cannabis. It may also bring you more peace of mind when travelling.
What if you need to bring a vape?
Andrew said, “The scope of what you are allowed to carry is what’s in the scope of the prescription. So, whatever your doctor has prescribed is what you’re allowed to travel with.”
There are two vaporisers registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) – the Volcano Medic and Mighty Medic. As a result, it’s safe to assume that they are ‘highly recommended’ by the TGA. However, the TGA writes:
“If vaporised cannabis is to be used, it is recommended that those [vaporisers] which have been studied in a research setting and found to be safe and feasible are chosen for use.”
You can probably tell by now that your vaporiser isn’t ‘prescribed’, which leaves us with a grey area. Andrew said, “The scope of what you’re allowed to carry is what’s in the scope of your prescription. So, to the extent that your doctor authorises the device you’re using to consume your medication, you should be okay.”
Because of this grey area, Andrew very highly recommended that patients ask their doctor to note in their letter that the doctor knows and has approved your use of a vaporiser. The team at honahlee recommends you ask your doctor to list the exact vaporiser name (and model number if possible) in your letter.
Can you take your medication (including vape) at the airport?
“If you have a legal prescription and supporting documents, then you should be able to medicate at the airport. We don’t stop people from taking other medications at the airport. However, with vaping, if you’re around other people, you need to be mindful that your vapour could affect others around you. You have the prescription, and they’re not supposed to be having what you’re having.”
If you’re taking oil or edible of some sort, there is absolutely no issue with medicating at the airport. If you’re vaping medication in a public place, it’s important that make sure no one else is around.
While people will often say you can vape medical cannabis in smoking areas – this is not necessarily true. Smoking cigarettes is legal, and individuals lingering in a smoking area are consenting to cigarette smoke. Medical cannabis is prescribed to an individual, and the vapour and residual, combusted cannabis, may get into other people’s lungs or mouth. So, if vaporising your medication at the airport you must do this away from others.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the TGA does not support smoking and therefore if you are smoking your cannabis, there may be scope for law enforcement to stop you.
Is there specific cannabis storage patients should use when travelling?
While there is no ‘legal’ answer to this question, the answer is still – Yes. You should keep your medicine in the original container it came in when you first received it from the pharmacy or supplier. The packaging your cannabis medicine arrives in should meet Australian medical packaging standards.
Keeping it in the original packaging also means that the cannabis will have your personal information, doctor’s information and your ‘script’ on it.
“It’s not like the laws we have concerning firearms. For example, it must be secured and stowed in a certain way.
This is a very non-legal observation. I’m sure some people reading this will have travelled with a bottle of wine which they didn’t seal properly. And, they arrived at their destination and had Shiraz all over their shirts. You don’t want to be in a situation like that. So, when travelling with oil or tincture, make sure it secure or bubble wrapped or something that means it won’t leak.”
Recap: Tips for airline travel with medical cannabis
Cannabis is still quite taboo in Australia, and there are police and other law enforcement who still don’t know that any form of cannabis is legal. Here are some tips for travelling with your medical cannabis between States and Territories in Australia
- Ensure the product you are taking with you is a legal, medical cannabis product and that you have support for that product in the form of a prescription (physical or digital).
- Keep your medication in the original, labelled packaging with your name, doctor’s name and dosage.
- If you’ve gone through the SAS pathway, ask your doctor for the TGA approval letter and have it available.
- Ask your doctor to write a letter of support that outlines the medications prescribed, your dosage and the product formulation (oil vs flower). And, if you have a vape, ask them to list the vape along with the vape serial number if possible.
Remember, if prescribed, you do have the right to carry your medication with you. However, there’s no such thing as too much preparation for travelling with medical cannabis. The better prepared you are, the better you’ll be if you do get questions and the more relaxed you can be heading through the airports or border checkpoints.
What’s the deal with getting and using CBD oil in Australia?
What you and your mates potentially know as CBD oil is actually cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis/word you’ll probably have to try pronounce at least twice.
You’ve probably met its mate, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC aka the one that makes you ≋h≋i≋g≋h≋) but CBD will not get you stoned. (Unless you’ve got it from somewhere slightly dodgy and you’re not 100% sure about the THC content).
So to be clear, CBD is used for medical reasons and NOT Reefer Madness. What kind of medical reasons? According to Dr Iain McGregor, Professor of Psychopharmacology, “It’s more a case of what it doesn’t do rather than what it does.”
What’s CBD good for?
It was first discovered in the 50s and 60s (in modern times) and was basically thought to be useless, says the Doc. That was, until the 70s, when we rediscovered its antiepileptic effects. But it really wasn’t until the past four or five years that there’s been a real increase in awareness and research.
“It’s become this almost universal panacea,” says Dr Iain. Depending on who you ask, CBD oil is good for what ails you, whether that be anxiety, anorexia, insomnia, PTSD, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, depression, migraines, or feeling chronically unchill.
Neuropharmacologist, University of Wollongong lecturer and Associate Investigator with ACRE, Dr Katrina Green, also notes that after 12,000 years of interaction between humans and cannabis, our understanding of this plant is still very much in its infancy.
“CBD is obviously pretty important. Its anti-inflammatory capacity and its ability to protect the brain is evident in almost every study that you pick up.”
She finds these anti-inflammatory effects, even in low doses of cannabidiol, especially exciting since inflammation kind of underlies everything. “Low levels of inflammation are involved in body weight gain, if you pull a muscle. there’s such wide ranging benefits to anti-inflammatories.”
“There’s evidence, particularly in illnesses of the brain, that it does work,” she says. So depression, anxiety, ADHD, tourettes, PTSD, different aspects of psychosis — for those type of things the evidence consistently shows that there’s benefits. CBD is not as great with pain, she says, because you kind of need THC to get any pain benefits.
But CBD research takes money, something which scientists are notoriously short on. And ideally they’d be able to grow their own products here to research but that would take less regulation, something which governments are notoriously fond of.
So, what’s legally available in Australia?
As of 2015 CBD oil is legal in Australia, as long as it contains at least 98% cannabidiol and 2% or less of other cannabinoids found in cannabis. When compared to a lot of other countries, like the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Netherlands, we’re quite behind.
“Surprisingly the government — particularly the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which regulates how drugs are marketed and available to consumers — seem to be listening,” says Dr Iain.
CBD has recently changed from Schedule 4 (prescription only) to Schedule 3, which means you should be able to get low dose CBD (max.150 mg daily dose) over the counter at your local pharmacy.
However, there are currently no TGA approved products on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) that meet the Schedule 3 criteria. And that process of approval could take years.
How do you actually get CBD oil?
“CBD got caught up in the whole medical cannabis legalisation thing that happened from late 2016,” Dr Iain explains. As part of that, there was a “torturous process” set up for Australians to access CBD, whereby you had to go through a doctor, hope said doctor is educated about CBD and is in favour of its use, then persuade them that CBD is right for you, then they would need to write a complicated application and send that off to Canberra to the TGA who would then decide either way.
The difference now is that Authorised Prescribers (AP) don’t need to apply to the TGA via the Special Access Scheme (SAS), they can write you a prescription on the spot. These APs can be either specialists or a GP, but there’s no full list right now, so your best bet is to start making some enquiries.
Of course, if you do go that route, there’s the issue of cost, which is prohibitive for a lot of people. Sitting at about $10-$15 a day, “you’d probably find it’s cheaper to grow your own (and a lot of people do).”
As of 2020, out of the approvals issued in total in over three years, Dr Iain estimated that about 20,000 patients gained access legally (when you take into account the prescription renewals throughout that time). “And there’s probably 10 times more people — certainly from our surveys — that are accessing illicit cannabis and self-medicating.”
So yeah, the government and researchers are well aware that a lot of people in Australia are opting to bypass the current system and spend their money offshore, buying online from places like Canada and the US. But there are signs that prices will go down, since obviously there’s an increasingly competitive market for it.
Already there’s countless overseas companies taking an interest in selling to Aussies. “They see it as perhaps the fastest growing market in the world, even though it’s a small population the numbers add up,” says Dr Iain.
“The main thing we need is a really vibrant domestic market. It grows particularly well in Australia — the stuff just jumps out of the ground!”
The good news in all of this, agree both experts, is that that strict regime tends to ensure high quality control of the product. “By being careful and quite well regulated the Australian scheme is probably going to give rise to very good products that will have a lot of export potential,” says Dr Iain. “The unfortunate thing is, Australian consumers are having to wait a very long time to get these products and at a reasonable price.”
On top of that, your average over the counter product that’ll be available here will have relatively low concentrations of CBD. So, if you’re getting an oil that has maybe 30 milligrams per mil, your average daily dose is probably less than 100 milligrams of CBD. However, clinical trials and research suggest that effective doses for things like anxiety and psychosis tend to be a lot higher, they tend to be up around 500-1000 milligrams, which causes Dr Iain beg the question: “Even if we get the over the counter products available in Australia, will they actually be any good?”
Should you believe the hype?
Dr Iain says to “watch the hype.” He points to when cocaine was first invented, when they thought it would be a great cure for opium addiction and you could just chuck it in any old fizzy drink. “You always get this huge hype [around new drugs] and you do have to let research run its course. Big clinical trials take several years so complete; five years from now we’ll know a lot more about CBD and it’s potentials and limitations.”
There’s also the placebo effect to consider, so after weeks of use the shine may wear off and the expenditure may seem less worth it.
“The hype is almost certainly wrong. The idea that it’s just a placebo is almost certainly wrong, as well. So the truth is somewhere in between. What we have to do as scientists is work out what that truth actually is.”
As a neuroscientist, Dr Katrina is particularly interested in the developing brain and the short term and long term effects of cannabidiol use on it. “A lot of people say that CBD is non-psychoactive but psychoactive is defined as something that interacts with the brain and changes behaviour. Now that applies to THC, alcohol, heroin, whatever. CBD is absolutely psychoactive, it’s just psychoactive in a good way.”
“What is concerning. as CBD becomes more available companies will inevitably jump on board to try and make a dollar out of it. This is the hype that I’m concerned about,” she says.
Especially when it comes to younger brains and an increasingly casual use of cannabis products, Dr Katrina advises: “Just remember cannabidiol is a medicine.”
“We’re saying that it’s beneficial for all of these illnesses, it’s not just a wellness substance like a vitamin C.” She recommends only taking it if you actually need to for genuine dysfunction or illness, not as a supplement, and to exercise “a little bit of caution when ordering things from overseas or using as a daily tonic”
Can I Travel To Australia With CBD Oil: Domestic & International
Does Australia allow you to travel with CBD Oil through airports? Find out what rules apply. Find out if you are safe to bring cannabis CBD products to Australia or around the country domestically.
Australian airports have drug dogs, tests and detectors, so should we be worried about travelling with CBD oil?
Yyou are allowed to travel with CBD oil in Australia. Patients from overseas are allowed to bring up to three months supply. Domestic travel requires a prescription, identification and a note from your doctor
You can bring CBD oil into Australia, and you can also travel domestically between states with CBD and THC oil. If you are on a travel visa, then you can bring in a three month supply of your medicines. This includes cannabis products, and you are protected under the Traveller’s Exemption Law.
Cannabis is legal in many countries, including Australia, and you will be surprised about how the rules affect you!
Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is legal in Australia with a prescription.
The only important fact about CBD is that it is a schedule 4 drug. These drugs can be readily prescribed by any regular doctor in AUstralia.
As long as you have a prescription for your CBD product, then you can travel interstate, domestic or internationally.
If you are coming from abroad, you can bring up to three months worth of medicinal cannabis into Australia. You will have to have a prescription accompany you with this.
Can you bring CBD to Australia
CBD oil extracts for medicinal or personal use can be brought into Australia. You can bring CBD oil to Australia for personal use, but you cannot bring large resale quantities without a license or declaration.
You have to declare medicines that you bring into Australia.
Even though there can be drug screenings, this is generally only for people suspected of traficking commercial quantities of CBD, THC, or other scheduled drugs.
If you are coming from a country where CBD oil is legal, bring a personal amount that will last three months and you will have no problem. For travellers or new residents staying longer than three months in Australia, you can visit a doctor here to obtain a new prescription for CBD oil.
Conclusion: Can I Bring CBD Oil Into Australia?
Yes, you can definitely bring CBD oil products into Australia without fear of criminal or financial penalties.
How much cannabis or CBD products can you bring into Australia? You are protected under the Traveller’s Exemption Law that allows you to enter into Australia with up to three months supply of medicines.
Medicines that you bring into Australia includes:
- CBD oil
- THC oil
- Dried cannabis
- Edibles, Capsules, Tinctures, etc.
Australia is a friendly country, and even though we have many laws and restrictions around cannabis, you can feel safe knowing that you will be protected.
Police and airport security are on the lookout for drug trafickers, and they don’t care about your prescription medicines, as long as you have a resonable supply of three months or under.
The Australian government recommends bringing in three months or under, a prescription or evidence that this medicine of for yourself, and do not bring CBD oil or medicine for other people.
James is an experienced writer and legal cannabis advocate in Australia. He answers all the questions about business, legalisation and medicinal cannabis.
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