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Flying with cannabis, here is everything you need to know

We’ve all heard it before–the best way to fly is high. But how about having cannabis on you when you’re on an airplane? Is it possible? Many of my readers ask me about the possibility of:

  • Flying with the flower
  • Flying with oil cartridges
  • Flying with vape cartridges
  • Flying with THC cartridges
  • Flying with edibles

First off, nothing is impossible, but federal law prohibits cannabis in any form to be possessed by individuals for legal or medicinal purposes, because cannabis is still considered to be a Schedule I Substance by the U.S. federal government.

Important Note – Read This First!

I’m not a lawyer, and by no means is this legal advice. This blog post is for educational purposes, and doesn’t encourage illegal behaviors. Whether it’s the substance itself, a vaporizer, a glass pipe, or any type of paraphernalia, please understand the consequences and the risk of flying with any type of cannabis products on a flight, whether it be international or domestic.

Why is flying with weed illegal? It’s simple, really–any and all airspace over the U.S. is under federal jurisdiction, which means state laws that are different from federal laws no longer apply. This is simply for ease–imagine a crime (let’s say a mugging or something) is committed while on a flight and the authorities have to figure out which state the plane over so they can prosecute the attacker. That’s a pain, so airspace is under federal jurisdiction. And because marijuana is not legal on a federal level (no, not even medical), that means it’s not legal in the air, either.

However, people with medical marijuana prescriptions are pretty likely to be okay when traveling as long as the product is less than 0.3% THC and is FDA-approved. I recommend checking out this NY Times article for the specifics.

If you end up wanting to take the risk to fly high, it’s your own responsibility. It’s illegal no matter how you want to justify it to yourself.

It is illegal to take any marijuana products across state lines, even if it is legal in both states. And the fine for this, even for a first offense, can be astronomical depending on how much you’re carrying.

Think about the risk-reward analysis:

The risk is getting caught, which means that you’ll be handed over to the local airport police, who will enforce the laws of your home state. You’ll also miss your flight, and there’s a chance you’ll have to pay a fine or even see the inside of a jail cell for a little bit. Now, that’s pretty unlikely, but it does depend on how much you have on you. If you have quite a bit (I’d say more than a few days’ worth), they can get you on possible distribution charges (aka dealing).

The reward, on the other hand, is a pleasant buzz that will last a few hours during your flight, or when you get to your destination.

Remember What TSA Job is

TSA is not an anti-drug entity, meaning they’re not specifically looking for controlled substances. However, TSA is contracted by the federal government for nationwide security purposes, and they’re obliged to follow federal law. So if cannabis turned up during a search or screening, law enforcement officer(s) should be notified; that means TSA’s responsibility is to hand over whatever “illegal” substance, and the person they’re arresting, to local authorities.

With all that said, it’s a bit of a toss-up when you’re talking about the individual TSA employee, airport, the city, and the state. Oakland CA, for instance, was at some point (not sure anymore) one of the kindest airports to medical cannabis patients, but some other airports might not be as understanding. You’re more likely to be okay with medical marijuana, but you do need a medical marijuana card, and several states outlaw it entirely (I recommend checking out this helpful marijuana map , updated in April 2021).

TSA is specifically looking for bombs and guns, not marijuana. Even if they had dogs, they’ll only be trained to smell dangerous stuff (like bombs or maybe some agricultural products in international airports), not your weed. But, and it’s a big but, TSA still reserves the right to deny any item onboard a plane, and this includes marijuana. Even if the passenger is from one legal state traveling to another legal state, the passenger may potentially face charges because they’re carrying it across state lines and through federal airspace. State laws vary regarding how medical cannabis is handled. This includes, but is not limited to, reciprocity of medical marijuana card holder status in each state (departure and arrival destination).

In conclusion: TSA employees are NOT on the lookout for marijuana, but if they find it in any way, including residue, they can (and by law, should) hand you over to the local authorities. However, it sometimes depends on the TSA employee and where you’re traveling to/from.

My Personal Story with Flying with a joint

Recently I was flying out of Las Vegas, with a weed look-a-like joint (a hemp joint) to Seattle (a legal state, Nevada, to a legal state, Washington). Right before getting to the TSA checkpoint, I remembered that I had it in my backpack. It’s technically legal nationwide because it’s not actually marijuana, however, TSA can’t necessarily tell the difference and I thought they might make a fuss if they found it. So to be on the safe side, I asked a couple of airport employees about it before getting into the security line. They chuckled first, then said:

“Just put it in your carry-on, and if they ask you about it, throw it out.”

I did put it in my carry-on, went through the security, and no one said a thing.

But, listen, flying with marijuana is kind of like cheating on an exam; just because you get away with it 15 times in a row doesn’t mean you won’t get caught on attempt number 16. If a TSA agent becomes suspicious and decides to keep an eye on you because of whatever reason, then no hiding place is effective. Even if you sew the stuff into the lining of your suitcase, they can find it, and will if they suspect you of anything.

Have you flown with marijuana? What was it like? Please let us know in the comment section below.

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Important Tips On Strategy

Don’t take more than you need–if you get caught, the quantity you’re carrying can determine whether you’re arrested, fined, or if they even just let you go

Don’t stick anything up your ass, unless that’s your thing. Definitely not my recommendation or preference, though.

Everything should be in your carry-on. (Checked bags may get an in-depth search with a dog, and carry-ons are usually searched in a more hasty manner. Again, while the dogs are trained to find explosives, they might still pick up on the scent)

A slightly messy backpack can be useful in this case, or, if you’re a woman, hide it under or in a box of pads or tampons. TSA agents see menstrual products and like to quickly turn the other way.

Take all labels off the products.

Spread everything around. The last thing you want is a little stash box.

Make sure your “paraphernalia” tools are completely cleaned. No residue=no smell. Vaping and smoking gadgets are perfectly legal when they’re clean .

If you were using a box mod with an atomizer, break them down to as many little pieces as possible, and everything goes in separate little pockets in your clothes or backpack.

As for the marijuana itself:

Stay away from the flower! It smells, and dogs can pick the smell up from a mile away, even if they’re only trained to find bombs.

If you’re gonna go with shatter , keep it on the wax paper rather than a small storage jar, slide it into a little credit card sized envelope and mix it up with some random paperwork in your carry-on.

As for THC cartridges , I will elaborate in the next section.

Edibles also are a great way to sneak it into the airport. I suggest buying edibles from your dispensary that look like candy (you know the ones our moms used to check our Halloween candy for?), taking them out of their original packaging, and mixing them up with some regular types of candy. Here’s a picture:

Keep your head high with confidence, and don’t look like a bum. Keep a low profile, don’t touch your face, don’t try to rush through security, and relax. If you look nervous, they will see it–they’re trained to notice nervous/suspicious behavior and read body language.

Only do this if you really think it’s worth it. If you’re terrified of being arrested and think it will ruin your life, ask yourself if you really want to do this. If you do, then just remember to stay calm and take a deep breath.

Getting a little high can be helpful to loosen your nerves a little bit, but I would only recommend this for experienced stoners . Inexperienced stoners might get paranoid, which is a dead giveaway. And whatever you do, DON’T GET TOO STONED!

Once you’re through the first TSA checkpoint in the airport where you’re departing from, you will be good the rest of the trip. Unless it’s an international flight and you go through customs, you won’t be searched after your flight. On the return trip, the same goes.

If you’re traveling internationally, make sure to research the weed laws in that country. For instance, I know that Chinese “drug” laws are fairly harsh and I wouldn’t recommend taking the risk if you were traveling to China. However, Canada, Jamaica, and the Netherlands are pretty weed-friendly, although I’m not sure how the feel about you bringing your own into the country.

(Psst, since you made it this far, here is 25% discount code “421Store” for your next order on our 421Store)

Flying with THC cartridges 2021

Besides edibles, I think cartridges are the safest way to bring marijuana on a plane. Using cartridges is very convenient, and a lot less risky than shatter or bud for two main reasons: cartridges don’t smell, and they can be camouflaged as nicotine e-liquids cartridges.

Here are the steps you need to follow if you were willing to take the risk:

The first thing you want to do is to put the cartridges with your Toiletry Bag . If you don’t have a Toiletry Bag , I recommend getting one, even just for your own convenience when traveling. Make sure it’s not just an empty bag with your THC cartridges. Mix them up with shaving cream, perfume, any medication and/or ointments, toothpaste, labeled nicotine e-liquids, etc. Again, ladies, include some pads or tampons–male TSA agents especially are definitely not gonna go digging through the box. Make sure to check the TSA liquid rules here .

Place the toiletry bag in your carry-on, not your checked back. The air pressure in the hull increases the chances of e-liquid cartridges leakage.

As for your vaporizer/battery, it’s recommended to place it in a separate carry-on or in your pocket. You will have nothing to worry about as long as it’s 100% clean of any residue. Never put the battery in your checked suitcase.

If you were asked to check-in your carry-on bag right before you get into the airplane along with your suitcase, that’s normal. Sometimes they don’t have enough space in the overhead bins. Just make sure to take your Toiletry Bag and the vaporizer/battery with you before checking your bag.

If you see dogs, don’t get alarmed. Cartridges don’t smell. Keep calm and act like this is just any ol’ flight.

Conclusion

A few things to keep in mind:

If you end up wanting to take the risk to fly high, it’s your own responsibility. It’s illegal no matter how you want to justify it to yourself.

It is illegal to take any marijuana products across state lines, even if it is legal in both states. And the fine for this, even for a first offense, can be astronomical depending on how much you’re carrying.

Think about the risk-reward analysis:

The risk is getting caught, which means that you’ll be handed over to the local airport police, who will enforce the laws of your home state. You’ll also miss your flight, and there’s a chance you’ll have to pay a fine or even see the inside of a jail cell for a little bit. Now, that’s pretty unlikely, but it does depend on how much you have on you. If you have quite a bit (I’d say more than a few days’ worth), they can get you on possible distribution charges (aka dealing).

The reward, on the other hand, is a pleasant buzz that will last a few hours during your flight, or when you get to your destination.

Because marijuana is still classified as Schedule I Substance by the federal government, I personally would be wary of bringing any kind of marijuana on a commercial aircraft, including products used for medicinal purposes unless you have a note from your doctor. Being an activist is still a fairly risky occupation in this country, let alone trying to get on a plane with plant material or related products.

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I’m fortunate enough to live in an area of the country where marijuana is much less stigmatized than in the past. Perhaps because of this, I do feel federal law changes are in the near future for the country regarding cannabis, and when the law at the federal level does change we are going to see a huge shift in attitude across entire industries, perhaps including flight. I look forward to seeing this happen.

Let’s revisit our main question: is it possible to fly with marijuana? The answer is: nothing is impossible. If you want to take the risk, by all means do so; you’re an adult and you’re responsible for your own actions. My job is simply to tell you the risks so that you can decide whether or not flying with marijuana is something you want to do.

I also recommend checking out this video about how to travel with medical cannabis (it applies to recreational smokers, too):

This video also useful. check it out.

Stay toasty my friends.

Ayad Maher is a Cannabis Industry Entrepreneur, Blogger & Activist. eCommerce Specialist and Owner of a 420 Life Style Website; Monroe Blvd, an online smoke shop; 421Store, and an online CBD store; GoodyCBD.

How to Travel with Marijuana and Avoid Trouble

Traveling with marijuana can present a serious legal issue, especially if you plan to take it with you on a plane or drive across state lines. Even though 11 states have legalized recreational use and 33 have legalized medical cannabis programs, current federal laws make it illegal to cross state lines with weed.

Whether you want to bring your edibles on vacation or simply keep your medication on hand as you travel home for the holidays, you need to be mindful of how you transport your herb. With a few basic precautions, you can avoid some of the common problems travelers face when traveling with weed.

How to Legally Travel With Cannabis

If you’re legally permitted to possess and use cannabis, whether recreational or medicinal, there are guidelines that allow you to transport your product from place to place. For example, Nevada law allows users to drive with up to one ounce of marijuana in their vehicle so long as the product is stored in a sealed container and kept away from the driver and any passengers under 21 years of age. Other cannabis-friendly states have similar guidelines on the books.

Even if there are no legal concerns, it’s best to travel with an airtight, smell-proof container. Not only will this keep your cannabis fresher, but it will help to keep you above suspicion. Driving under the influence of THC is illegal, and the smell of cannabis may give police probable cause to search your vehicle—even if the marijuana is in a sealed container. Even if you can prove your innocence, you still don’t want cops poking around your vehicle and looking for signs of wrongdoing.

Traveling Across State Lines With Cannabis

When you’re traveling long-distance with your cannabis, the laws are a bit more complex. Federal law strictly prohibits the transport of controlled substances (e.g. marijuana) across state lines. This creates a lot of anxiety among would-be travelers, but it’s a bit of a moot point when you consider that all marijuana possession is prohibited under federal law anyway. Your odds of running into trouble simply depend on your destination.

If you drive from one cannabis-friendly location to another (such as from California to Nevada), it’s unlikely that you’ll face any legal consequences as long as you take the time to research and abide by the laws in each state. An officer in a cannabis-friendly region is unlikely to interrogate you about where you purchased your product if it’s properly sealed and in a legal quantity. Keep your medical card or recommendation on hand if applicable.

When traveling from a recreational-use state to a less-cannabis-friendly state (such as from Nevada to Utah), you have to be much more cautious. If the destination state has a zero-tolerance policy or imposes fines or jail time for possession, you need to be very careful about transporting your product.

You may be in luck, though, if you’re certified to use marijuana for medical use. Some states are willing to overlook where you acquired your product as long as you have your certification on hand.

For example, Utah recently implemented a medical marijuana program but hasn’t made cannabis available for sale yet. In the meantime, patients can still receive their certification and use cannabis legally.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act includes a provision that protects cannabis users who have received a doctor’s recommendation but haven’t yet been issued a medical marijuana card. Since cannabis isn’t yet available in the state, these protected users will need to get their medication either on the black market or out of state. Many are turning to the legal dispensaries in neighboring Nevada and Colorado.

What If You’re Stopped by Federal Law Enforcement?

As previously noted, cannabis is illegal at the federal level. So even if your region is cannabis-friendly, you can theoretically be taken into custody if stopped by federal law enforcement agencies. Thankfully, the odds of this actually happening are low.

Federal agents aren’t concerned with routine traffic stops. If you’re apprehended by them, you probably have much bigger problems on your hands. Federal officials may target people suspected of running large-scale operations or trafficking drugs, but they’re not generally concerned with searching the vehicles of citizens who drive over the speed limit. If you’re curious about the penalties you might face if caught, your best bet is to brush up on the state—rather than the federal—laws.

Assessing the Risk

At the federal level, cannabis possession is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and a maximum of one year in jail (for a first offense). Many states, like Ohio, follow a similar model, but the laws can vary tremendously from one state to the next.

Places like New York will subject you to no more than a small fine for possession (similar to a traffic citation), while places like Oklahoma will impose up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine for a first offense — even if you only have trace amounts of the drug. By understanding the penalties in your state, you can make an informed decision as to whether traveling with marijuana is worth the potential risk.

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Discreetly Traveling With Cannabis

Assuming you don’t have a medical marijuana card and don’t live in a recreational state, you’ll have to use some discretion when traveling with cannabis.

The first thing to remember is that—under the Fourth Amendment—police can’t search your vehicle without either a warrant or probable cause. Probable cause is any identifying factor signaling that a search would likely result in evidence of a crime. So if a police officer finds marijuana, marijuana paraphernalia, or a strong odor of marijuana, they may be able to search your vehicle.

With this in mind, the first golden rule is to not create a probable-cause situation. All cannabis products should be out of sight, preferably stored in a trunk and sealed in an airtight container. Don’t drive while under the influence, as police are trained to look for such signs, and that in itself may warrant probable cause.

In short, keep your product out of sight and out of mind. Don’t arouse suspicion for other reasons, and your stored cargo should never become an issue.

Bringing Weed on a Plane

Now we’re getting into some murkier territory. Air travel is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (a division of the Department of Transportation) and the Transportation Security Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). In other words, you’re in federal territory now.

When you decide to bring cannabis on a plane, know that you do so at your own risk. The good news is that as long as you use basic discretion and keep your stash small, you should sail right through airport security. The TSA has explicitly stated that they “do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs,” but they will usually report it if they find it out in the open. That goes for medicinal as well as recreational cannabis.

First, invest in a good odor-proof cannabis storage bag—these are widely available online. Avoid using your airtight weed container, as it may warrant closer inspection with some agents. Just place your odor-proof bag in your carry-on (not in your checked baggage), and pack your product discreetly. Obviously, you don’t want a baggy full of Skywalker OG and a collection of pipes hanging open in your bag.

If you’re bringing joints, consider slipping them into a pack of cigarettes—between actual cigarettes. If flying with edibles, consider placing them in the packaging of commercial snack foods. For example, there’s nothing stopping you from placing cannabis cookies in a Chips Ahoy package or slipping your special gummy bears into a Haribo gummy bear bag. But whether you’re traveling with joints, edibles, or any other cannabis product, just remember to keep it concealed in an odor-proof bag.

We are big fans of Revelry line of odor-absorbing luggage. Their bags provide exceptional functionality with high quality craftsmanship.

Courtesy of Revelry https://www.instagram.com/p/B89sUnqBYfP/

Just avoid packing excess liquid (like cannabis-infused energy drinks), as that may warrant closer inspection. If you plan to bring vape juice, keep it to no more than 3.4 oz. or 100 ml. per TSA guidelines.

Remember, TSA is not looking for cannabis. Their focus is on national security so don’t give them a reason to examine your luggage. Generally, we recommend you to leave your stash at home and resupply once you arrive at your destination.

Traveling With Weed Internationally

As long as you use common sense, you should have little to worry about—when traveling domestically, that is. If you are thinking of how to sneak your weed across international waters and into another country, you’re on much shakier ground.

Our best recommendation is: just don’t do it. You can never predict what will happen during a routine customs inspection, and you don’t want to be apprehended outside your home country. When traveling to a cannabis-friendly country like the Netherlands, it’s better to just purchase a fresh supply when you arrive. If you’re traveling to a non-cannabis-friendly country, the consequences of possession can vary dramatically.

If you absolutely must bring your stash with you internationally, at least take some time to research the laws and potential consequences in your destination country. Then decide if the risk is worth the reward.

Can You Travel With CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is becoming increasingly popular due to its host of possible health benefits, which range from anxiety relief to eczema prevention. CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, but it’s not always subject to the same travel restrictions. CBD containing less than 0.3% THC is regulated as industrial hemp and permitted for use by the federal government. You can legally fly with it under TSA guidelines, and you can even drive with it openly without violating federal law.

However, although the federal government has taken a more progressive stance with CBD oil, a few states still have tougher laws on the books. For example, Idaho law prohibits the use of products that contain any THC whatsoever. So a hemp-derived CBD product with 0.3% THC might be legal in Montana but illegal in neighboring Idaho.

Make sure to know the laws where you live, and travel discreetly if necessary. Since CBD is becoming more available, it’s best to leave it at home and pick up a small dose after you arrive at your destination.

What to Do if You Get Caught Traveling With Weed

Some states, like California, won’t look twice at your marijuana if it’s transported in a legal way. Other places, like Arizona, will treat even an ounce of marijuana possession as a felony punishable by jail time.

If, despite your best efforts, you get caught traveling with marijuana, don’t panic. If you’re polite, cooperative, and honest (no cop has ever bought the “these are not my pants” defense), you’ll probably walk away unscathed. Even Arizona (which is technically a zero-tolerance state) won’t incarcerate you for a first or second offense.

In most cases, you will likely get off with a warning or a fine. Even a TSA agent will often just confiscate your stash and send you on your way. As societal norms change, law enforcement is less concerned about throwing the book at people who just want to get high. So just be cooperative and say as little as possible to avoid incriminating yourself. You are going to be okay.

Of course, prevention is the best cure. So when you decide to leave home with your marijuana at your side, be sure to heed the tips in this article and avoid detection by anyone looking to harsh your buzz.