Can I Travel With Marijuana?
We’re fortunate enough to live in a time of increasing marijuana legalization. There are now 11 states that have legalized recreational use and a total of 33 states that have legalized medicinal marijuana. But because not every state has the same cannabis laws, traveling with weed can still be quite confusing. If you’re about to travel with cannabis, regardless if by plane, train, or automobile, you probably have a few questions about legality and risk. We’ve created this post so you can travel safely knowing how to fly with weed, what’s risky, all-clear, legal, and illegal.
Traveling With CBD Products
Before we address marijuana, let’s get CBD out of the way. Since the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, cannabis products with less than 0.3% THC are recognized as legal substances by federal law. This means you’re able to travel with CBD in an airplane, in your car, or on your person. The TSA even updated its policy recently to allow CBD, hemp-derived products on planes in both carry-on and checked-bag capacities. As long as your CBD products abide by other TSA regulations, you should be good to go!
Flying With Marijuana
Despite marijuana legalization in many states, it’s still an illegal drug under federal law. Unfortunately, this means weed bought in legal states is not technically allowed beyond post-security areas at an airport. However, this doesn’t mean the TSA is cracking down on cannabis travel or that it’s even on their radar. And so, many people are left wondering if flying with cannabis allowed and/or tolerated.
Can You Bring Weed On A Plane?
The legal answer, in most cases, is no. However, we’re very aware this isn’t going to stop most people, especially since the TSA and many airports have been wish-washy with their response to cannabis travel. We go through the details below.
Does TSA Check for Marijuana?
Again, the short answer to this question is no, but the TSA’s current stance on marijuana and other drugs is vague and leaves room for interpretation. Since their focus is on plane and passenger safety, “TSA security officers will not search for marijuana and other illegal drugs.” That being said, if they find weed while searching for other items, they’re legally required to contact a law enforcement officer to handle the situation.
Do Checked Bags Get Searched for Drugs?
TSA’s stance on marijuana is the same for both checked bags and carry-ons. Checked bags do not get searched for drugs, but there may be consequences if it’s found while looking for other items. Since weed doesn’t get flagged on its own, flying with weed in a checked bag is less likely to be noticed as long you don’t have anything else TSA will need to investigate.
Can You Get Arrested If Caught With Marijuana At An Airport?
Ultimately, the consequences for marijuana possession depend on the amount you’re carrying and the airport you’re in. In some airports, like Los Angeles International Airport, local law enforcement will not arrest anyone possessing less than 28.5 grams of marijuana. Similarly, Seattle-Tacoma Airport allows passengers to carry weed up to the state’s legal limit. Other airports, like Boston’s Logan Airport, aren’t taking any position at all – there are no prohibitions but also no regulations allowing a certain amount. This makes it incredibly difficult to determine how traveling with weed is handled.
It should be noted that, if you’re traveling with marijuana in a state that hasn’t legalized it, you’re chances of getting caught and reprimanded are much higher. We suggest refraining from travel with weed in places it’s illegal.
Can Airport Security Confiscate Your Weed?
Yes. While the legal repercussions may be a bit hazy, there’s a good chance your weed will be confiscated if found (unless you’re in an airport that has openly stated they allow possession up to a certain amount).
Flying with Edibles
If you’re going to fly with weed, your safest bet is to fly with edibles. Yes, it’s still technically illegal, but gummies are easy to place alongside other snacks in a plastic baggie and will likely be identified as standard candy. Even if you’re flying with edibles internationally, as long as you have the pot gummies sealed in a baggie that doesn’t advertise what they really are, it’s one of the least risky ways how to get edibles through airport security.
Flying with Vapes
“Can you bring a vape on a plane” isn’t a question solely reserved for people interested in flying with weed in carry on bags. No matter its contents, vapes are only allowed in carry-on luggage. Placing your vape in a checked bag is a guaranteed way to get your weed confiscated. But even if you place your vape pen in a carry-on bag, your chances of getting caught are increased. Vapes are easy to identify in scanners and will probably be checked if there’s any liquid or flower packed into it.
Flying with Flower
Unfortunately, this is probably the easiest way to get your weed confiscated. Flower is an organic compound, an item class that can be used in bombs. It makes sense that TSA would be quick to check it out; and if you’re not in a weed-friendly state and airport, you might have an unfortunate situation on your hands.
Is it Legal to Fly with Marijuana in Canada?
The Cannabis Act of 2018 implemented a framework for legal control of the production and distribution of cannabis in Canada. Under this law, flying with cannabis on domestic flights within Canada is also legal, so long as the amount is under 30 grams.
However, flying with weed across the Canadian border is illegal. This includes medical marijuana and CBD. If you are traveling back into Canada, regardless if by plane or car, you must declare any weed you have in your possession. Attempting to hide weed across the border may result in your arrest and prosecution.
Can I Fly Internationally With Marijuana?
Weed is still illegal in most countries, and the consequences for possession will vary widely. That being said, rules apply in this case exactly as they do with domestic flights – marijuana on planes is technically illegal regardless of where you’re flying.
Driving With Marijuana
Driving with weed is way less risky than flying with it. That being said, especially if you’re in a state where it isn’t legal, it’s best to stay smart about it. Don’t smoke and drive. For starters, it’s dangerous, but it’s also a great way to get pulled over and searched. Even if you’re in a state where weed is legal, don’t get high if you know you’re driving anytime soon.
Is It Legal to Drive With Marijuana?
In a decriminalized state, the laws are very similar to driving with alcohol. Don’t have weed in an unsealed container within reach of the driver and don’t carry more than the legal limit. If you’re driving in a state where weed is illegal, you can still be charged regardless of where the weed was bought.
What’s The Safest Way To Drive With Marijuana?
No matter what state you’re in, the smartest place to stash your weed while traveling is in the trunk. The weed should be kept in a sealed container and ideally tucked into a corner. Glove department boxes also work, but keeping it completely out of reach is the best way to ensure you’re in the clear.
The bottom line is that traveling with marijuana is still a risk, but it’s increasingly less of one. If you’re traveling somewhere and buy weed, try using it up before you travel back home (and vice versa). Hopefully, federal legalization will come sooner than later and we won’t have to worry about how to bring weed on a plane at all.
Have you traveled with marijuana before? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!
We’re fortunate enough to live in a time of increasing marijuana legalization. There are now 11 states that have legalized recreational use and a total of 33 states that have legalized medicinal marijuana. But because not every state has the same cannabis laws, traveling with weed can still be quite confusing. If you’re about to travel with cannabi
Flying with Cannabis: Carry-on Bag or Checked Luggage?
Can you? Should you? May you? Here’s hoping you know what you need to when it comes to flying with cannabis.
Cannabis remains an illegal substance by Federal regulation. That makes it illegal to transport through a federal checkpoint. Anything you carry is subject to search and seizure, and prosecution could follow. But, the skies may be friendlier than you think.
The role of the TSA
The presence of the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) is meant to stop and deter threats to person, property, and homeland security. But, given all they must do, especially under the pressure of high-volume airports, they don’t have the budget, personnel, or time to focus on cannabis.
They and their dogs and focus on drugs, bombs, and weapons. But, they may very well stop and search you if they have a reasonable cause or suspicion.
The TSA officers do not arrest. But, because airports are the property of the local government or authority, they will call on the local police to handle your situation. Specifically, TSA.gov says,
“Possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products. TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but in the event a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
This applies to use of carry-on bags or checked luggage.
The role of the local police
The local police rarely arrest and prosecute passengers stopped and referred by the TSA. If the passenger is cooperative and not clearly under the influence, the police are likely to give you a choice to trash your stash.
Where medical cannabis and recreational-use cannabis are legal, the local police may permit you to carry the legal limit. So, if you have a modest amount of cannabis in your carry-on bag, you are prepared to give it up if, indeed, they stop you.
- Experience shows that if you board in San Francisco, the police will okay possession of one ounce. But, they will allow up to 8 ounces of medical cannabis.
- In Oregon, you can carry the legal limit if you are flying from one Oregon airport to another Oregon airport.
- At Denver airport, on the other hand, they will require you to trash your stuff wherever you are going.
If the TSA has reason to check your carry-on or person, they will refer you to nearby police officers. Depending on the situation you present, they may make a light search and recommend you throw the product in the trash or their lockbox. If you are loud, aggressive, or disrespectful, they may arrest you or prohibit your boarding flight.
Your checked bags are more likely to be opened and investigated. TSA agents reserve the right to x-ray and open your checked luggage in your presence or not. They will remove items they consider suspicious.
They give priority to all those things that present a threat to people and the plane. But, they also search for smuggled drugs, especially where discovered in bulk. However, they know what cannabis looks like and are aware of the typical ploys to hide it. While they may refer the product to police, if it a small amount, they are just as likely to leave a notice that the product was removed on a physical search.
The size limits vary slightly among different airlines, but United Airlines defines “carry-on bag” saying, “The maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels.”
These are those rectangular bags that everyone pulls through airports on wheels with a telescoping handle. As the price of checked luggage has increased, more and more passengers use the carry-on bags to avoid the check-in. And, some plane fares now prohibit such bags in economy class.
In addition to such bags, passengers are permitted a “personal item.” For most, that is a backpack, purse, or laptop. In either case, it should fit under the seat in front of you at 9” x 10” x 17. Yet, people carry diaper bags, durable medical equipment, umbrellas, and more at the discretion of the gate personnel.
With carry-on luggage, you benefit from the pressure at the security check through. Anyone who flies knows how hectic and rushed things are through security. So, if you retain your cool and are not a walking sign for trouble, you should not invite heavy security.
- Your person is subject to search, so it’s not prudent to carry in your pockets, and if you have smoked on the way into the airport, you will smell.
- Your carry-on will be x-rayed, so pack your product carefully and discretely. You can seclude a small amount of cannabis in medical containers or sealed in any number of the smell proof bags, airtight canisters, and smell proof cases such as you would use for cigars.
- You don’t want to pack the cannabis in any container that would draw attention to itself like bottles or glass containers.
- You can place a small amount of product or edibles among your carry-on snacks along with the trail-mix or chips.
It’s worth investing a few dollars in traveling items specifically designed for the purpose. Most will simply pass a first inspection appearing to be toiletries, makeup, or medications. But, the key thing is to avoid leakage of pungent odors.
Flying with cannabis
Can you? Should you? May you? Yes, you can fly with cannabis in your baggage. Millions do it every day. But, you do so at your own risk of being stopped, searched, possibly arrested and missing your flight.
Should you? If you are flying to locations where cannabis is legal, you can buy it there and save yourself the trouble. If it is a medical necessity, then you should have enough to last your trip, but the larger the supply the higher your risk. You should carry your medical marijuana card as a precaution, but TSA has no obligation to honor it.
May you? No, you may not. Interstate and intercontinental flight may take you to locations where cannabis is illegal and even severely punishable. It is currently illegal to pass a federal checkpoint, such as those in airports, in possession of cannabis.
Conclusion? You should use your head. You can use or consume an edible before the flight if it reduces your stress. You can’t smoke on the plane under any circumstances, so you must get your head around the fact you will have to wait up to 10 hours without a hit. You may have a problem if you cannot make it through the day.
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