I know that Medical marijuana is schedule I in the US, and that it is illegal federally, but what about schedule II-IV drugs? Do other countries have rules about which substances are controlled? At the moment, I will be flying from the US to Canada and Mexico, but in the future, I may be going to Europe. I don't take narcotics at the moment, but I do take Clonazepam for psychiatric management.

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    Shall we understand that the place you're going to Canada, Mexico and Europe from is the US? If you've been legally prescribed the drugs in the US, US authorities would not have any problems with you taking them, but the country you're going to might. Then you need to know how the drug is classified in the target country's law, not which Roman numerals apply to them in your home country. Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 11:31
  • I was prescribed Clonazepam, which is like Valium, but I don't know if I should bring proof of prescription so they know that it was legally prescribed to me. Maybe this is a legal question I should ask the consolate or embassy of that country. Any suggestions would be great. Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 11:38
  • @HeavenlyHarmony: I think that the point in Henning's comment is that it does not really matter for the target country how you got the medicine if it is not legal over there. There may be some very specific provisions for these cases but generally speaking if something is illegal in a country, it does not matter why you are trying to bring it in.
    – WoJ
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 16:26

2 Answers 2


You need to learn the status of the medication in your destination. This is harder than you might think. A decongestant that is available over the counter in Canada is banned in New Zealand and since it's not by prescription, I had to get a special letter from my doctor (NZ customs helped with the wording) explaining why I had it with me.

If the medication is not controlled in the destination, you can just bring it. If the landing card asks about medications, declare it even though it's not controlled. When they ask what you have, you can say "Tylenol" or whatever and they will be happy. If it's by prescription only, again declare it, bring it in the prescription bottle with the label showing your name and if you can, bring a receipt and any other paperwork to prove this has been prescribed to you. If it's banned in the country, see if there are doctor-letter exemptions and arrange for the letter in plenty of time.

I have crossed a LOT of borders with prescription meds and other than looking at the label, there has not been much delay or any problem. I don't know if they are trained to know what various pills actually look like, but nothing of mine has ever had more than a visual inspection. One reason for that may be that I don't bring thousands of pills, just the amount I might need for the length of the trip.

In the particular case of marijuana, it is still illegal in Canada. Do not bring any. Best case is that you will be refused admission. Worse cases include being arrested for smuggling. I have seen that so many times on Border Security. And not just for the smokable leafy form. Chocolates, tea, you name it, if they find it, they react as they would to cocaine or any other street drug. And they generally find it (the smell is easy to detect.)

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    You might also want to check what names medications are known under in your destination country - e.g. 'Tylenol' might cause confusion in the many countries where its generic name 'paracetamol' is widely used
    – stuart10
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 13:08
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    last week a Scot mentioned he needed to get some eee-BOO-pruh-fen and it took me a while to translate that to eye-boo-PRO-fen. Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 13:25
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    To make this more international: if there is no bottle with your name on it, or if its just your name and nothing indicating that it is described by Doctor xyz, then bring some additional paperwork. Sometimes you are only accepted to bring it in when you have some paper with the signature and stamp of your doctor, because this is how it is handled in that country. In some you may only bring the exact amount needed for your planned stay.
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 13:54
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    @stuart10 Agreed, and Tylenol is a great example - in particular because paracetamol is actually not the generic name it's known by in the US (acetaminophen).
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 14:39
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    In the US at least, it is also possible to get a prescription for OTC medications. For example, I have a prescription for pseudophedrine, which is OTC in the US but restricted in many other countries.. It's the same stuff they would give me without the prescription, just with a pharmacy label stuck on the box. I doubt it would help if I were traveling to a place where it were banned outright, but it's useful to have for places where it's prescription only.
    – Sean
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 20:05

In the U.K. Clonazepam is Class C, possession can get you 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. Guidance on how to travel with it legally while visiting the U.K. is here https://www.gov.uk/travelling-controlled-drugs In essence, you need to prove it’s prescribed to you and you may need to get a licence.

  • When you say unlimited fine, what does the term unlimited really mean? Does that mean that I might be fined for all my life until I am unable to pay any more? Is Clonazepam banned entirely or is it only available by prescription? Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 12:39
  • @HeavenlyHarmony It means there is no upper limit to what the fine could be - it previously was £5000. The magistrate presiding over the case now has free reign to assign whatver fine they think is appropriate - whether that's £10 or £10Trillion. gov.uk/government/news/unlimited-fines-for-serious-offences
    – Bilkokuya
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 12:45
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    @HeavenlyHarmony Whether drugs are available by prescription is dealt with by the "schedule" column in gov.uk/government/publications/controlled-drugs-list--2/… found via the link Traveller supplies. It looks like Clonazepam is schedule 4 part 1 in the UK, making the prescription requirements relatively lax. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Drug_in_the_United_Kingdom
    – origimbo
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 13:00
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    It should also be noted that not carrying a prescription doesn't mean you'd be sent to jail automatically. Assuming you're traveling to a developed country you are likely to be given the option to contact your doctor abroad to receive proof of your medical status.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 22:47

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