Flying the pot-friendly skies just got a little easier, now that it’s been confirmed that Health Canada-licensed medicinal cannabis consumers are able to legally consume marijuana both in the airports while waiting for their flights and while on the plane during the flight.
At the end of May 2011, as a license-holder, I took it upon myself to clear up any ambiguities in regards to where and when I’m able to medicate.
Up until this point, we could only speculate as to what exactly the policies were of the corporations and agencies we deal with when we choose air travel. At various times, cardholders have been hassled going through security, as CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) agents haven’t been trained to recognize either the MMAR card or paper licenses. The old policy stood that even if the cannabis is legal, if it’s found amongst your carry-on items, a report would have to be made, sometimes involving police stationed in the airport – and it could take up to a good twenty minutes to work through the process. Often insensitive agents pull out bags of medicine to display for the entire security area, remarking at the scent and/or asking what strain it is. After the last time this happened to me, the CATSA representative for Calgary International Airport suggested that I file a complaint in order to get the policy changed.
“Believe me, our agents would much rather just see the card and wave you through without the hassle, so if enough complaints are made, the policy can be changed.”
Whether or not there were several complaints, my complaint was voiced and heard and so I was contacted by a CATSA representative this week, informing me that the policy is indeed changing and that a memo to that effect will be circulated nationwide within the month. This memo/newsletter will explain to CATSA agents about the new policy of recognizing MMAR cards/paper licenses (pictures of the cards will be provided to them) and explain that filing a report when they come across one isn’t necessary. There will be special notes made regarding the professional, courteous conduct required when an agent does come across marijuana; this medicine is to be treated as they would any other prescription medication. Agents don’t pull out your Viagra and comment on it, so therefore, the same should be true for your pot.
So now that we know we can bring our meds with us through security, what about consuming them in the airport? That’s the bailiwick of each individual airport authority, so I called the two airports I was dealing with, YYC (Calgary) and YYZ (Toronto). I asked both if there was any reason why I wouldn’t be able to use my vaporizer once I’m past security and they said, “As long as you can find a plug…”
This left the last piece of the puzzle: could I vape on the plane itself?
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