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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:
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.
I'm not an expert in law, and this blog post does not provide legal advice. It is meant for educational purposes only and does not encourage any illegal activities. If you're considering traveling with cannabis products, it's crucial to understand the potential consequences and risks involved, whether you're flying within the country or internationally.
You might wonder why flying with weed is considered illegal. The reason is quite simple. All airspace over the United States falls under federal jurisdiction, meaning state laws that might differ from federal laws no longer apply. This simplifies matters for law enforcement, as they don't have to figure out which state's laws are in effect during a crime committed on a flight. As marijuana is not legal on a federal level, even for medical purposes, it remains illegal in the air as well.
However, individuals with medical marijuana prescriptions might have some leeway when traveling. If the product they carry contains less than 0.3% THC and is FDA-approved, they may be allowed to travel with it. It's essential to check the specific regulations and guidelines, and you can find more information on this topic in a NY Times article that I recommend reading.
What that said:
If you're considering taking the risk of flying with marijuana, it's essential to understand the consequences. It doesn't matter how you try to justify it to yourself; it's illegal and not recommended.
One crucial thing to remember is that it's illegal to transport any marijuana products across state lines, even if marijuana is legal in both states. The fines for this offense, even on a first offense, can be extremely high, depending on how much marijuana you're carrying.
Let's look at the risk-reward analysis:
The risk involves the possibility of getting caught. If you do, the local airport police will enforce the laws of your home state. You might miss your flight, and there's a chance of facing fines or even spending time in jail, especially if you're carrying a substantial amount of marijuana. Having a significant quantity might lead to potential distribution charges, which is also known as dealing.
On the other hand, the reward you seek is a pleasant buzz that lasts a few hours during your flight or when you arrive at your destination. However, it's crucial to remember that pursuing this reward comes with significant risks, and it's always better to prioritize your safety and comply with the law.
The TSA is not specifically focused on searching for drugs, but they are responsible for ensuring nationwide security under federal law. If they discover cannabis during a search or screening, they must report it to law enforcement, and the local authorities will handle the situation from there.
It can be uncertain how each TSA employee, airport, city, and state will handle such situations. Some places, like Oakland, CA, have been more understanding towards medical cannabis patients in the past, but others might not be as lenient. If you have a medical marijuana card, you may have a better chance of being allowed to travel with medical marijuana, but keep in mind that several states still prohibit it. It's essential to check the laws in each state you're traveling to and from, and you can refer to a helpful marijuana map for guidance.
The TSA's primary focus is on detecting explosives and firearms, not marijuana. Even if they use dogs, the dogs are trained to detect dangerous items, not marijuana. However, the TSA has the right to refuse any item on a plane, including marijuana. Even if you're traveling from one legal state to another, carrying marijuana across state lines and through federal airspace could potentially lead to charges, as state laws vary, including how they handle medical cannabis, and reciprocity of medical marijuana card holder status between states.
In conclusion, TSA employees are not actively searching for marijuana, but if they come across it, they are obligated to involve local authorities. However, how the situation is handled may depend on the individual TSA employee and the locations involved in your travel. It's crucial to be informed about the laws and regulations in each state to avoid any potential legal issues.
In 2020, I had an experience while flying from Las Vegas to Seattle. I had a joint that looked like weed (a hemp joint), and I realized I had it in my backpack just before going through the TSA checkpoint. Although hemp is legal nationwide because it's not actual marijuana, I was worried that TSA might not be able to distinguish it and cause some trouble. So, I decided to ask a couple of airport employees for advice before going through security.
They chuckled at first and then suggested, "Just put it in your carry-on, and if they ask you about it, throw it out."
I followed their advice, placed the joint in my carry-on, and went through security without any issues. Nobody said anything.
However, it's crucial to understand that flying with marijuana is risky, much like cheating on an exam. Just because you've gotten away with it several times doesn't mean you won't get caught eventually. If a TSA agent becomes suspicious and decides to keep an eye on you for any reason, no hiding place is foolproof. Even if you try to hide it inside your suitcase's lining, they can still find it if they suspect anything.
Have you ever flown with marijuana? If so, how was your experience? Let us know in the comment section below.
Make sure you only carry what you need: Getting caught with a larger quantity of cannabis can lead to different consequences, like getting arrested, fined, or let off with a warning.
Avoid hiding anything in uncomfortable or unsafe ways, unless that's what you prefer, which is not recommended.
Keep everything in your carry-on bag. Checked bags might be subject to thorough searches with dogs, and even though the dogs are trained to find explosives, they might still pick up on the scent of cannabis.
A slightly messy backpack could be helpful, or if you're a woman, you could hide it under or inside a box of pads or tampons. TSA agents often avoid inspecting menstrual products quickly.
Remove all labels from cannabis products to avoid unnecessary attention.
Spread out your cannabis-related items in different places. Avoid keeping everything together in one stash box.
Make sure your smoking or vaping tools are thoroughly cleaned to eliminate any residue and smell. When clean, vaping and smoking gadgets are legal to carry.
If you were using a box mod with an atomizer, break them down into smaller pieces and distribute them in separate pockets of your clothes or backpack. This can help keep things discreet and safe during travel.
Avoid carrying the cannabis flower as it has a strong smell that can be detected by dogs even from a distance, despite them being trained to find bombs.
If you choose shatter as your cannabis product, keep it on wax paper instead of using a small storage jar. Place it inside a credit card-sized envelope and mix it with some random paperwork in your carry-on bag.
When it comes to THC cartridges, I'll explain more in the next section.
Edibles can be a clever way to bring cannabis to the airport discreetly. Consider purchasing edibles from a dispensary that resemble regular candy, like the ones our moms used to inspect during Halloween. Take them out of their original packaging and mix them in with other regular candies.Stay away from the flower! Here is what I did:
Stay confident and composed while going through airport security. Avoid looking disheveled or anxious. Keep a low profile, refrain from touching your face, and take your time going through security. TSA agents are trained to notice nervous behavior, so staying relaxed is essential.
Before attempting anything, carefully consider the risks involved. If you fear the possibility of getting arrested and the impact it might have on your life, think twice about the decision. If you still choose to proceed, remain calm and take deep breaths.
If you're an experienced cannabis user, getting a little high beforehand might help ease your nerves, but be cautious not to overdo it. Inexperienced users may become paranoid, which could raise suspicion. It's essential not to get too stoned.
Once you pass the initial TSA checkpoint at the departure airport, you're generally in the clear for the rest of the trip unless you're on an international flight and go through customs. The same applies for your return trip.
If you plan to travel internationally, thoroughly research the weed laws of the country you're visiting. Some countries, like China or Russia, have strict drug laws, so it's best not to risk it. However, Canada, Jamaica, and the Netherlands are known to be more cannabis-friendly, though it's uncertain how they feel about travelers bringing their own cannabis into the country.
Very important note: If you're an American citizen planning to take cannabis with you when traveling to a foreign country, it's crucial to do some research first. Find out if that country is considered a friend or a foe to the United States. If they are an ally, it might be safer, but if they are not, it's best to avoid bringing any cannabis product at all. Look at what happened to Brittney Griner as an example. She faced serious consequences for trying to bring cannabis to a country where it was illegal. It's essential to be informed and make wise decisions to avoid getting into trouble while traveling abroad.
Related article: Brittney Griner, Star W.N.B.A. Center, Is Detained in Russia
When it comes to bringing marijuana on a plane, using cartridges is considered one of the safest methods. Cartridges are convenient and less risky compared to shatter or bud for two main reasons: they don't produce a strong smell, and they can be disguised as nicotine e-liquids cartridges.
If you're willing to take the risk, follow these steps:
Place the cartridges inside a Toiletry Bag. If you don't have one, consider getting one for your convenience during travel. Mix the cartridges with regular toiletries like shaving cream, perfume, medications, ointments, toothpaste, and labeled nicotine e-liquids. For females, adding pads or tampons can provide an extra layer of camouflage. Remember to check the TSA liquid rules here for the toiletry bag contents.
Put the toiletry bag in your carry-on, not in your checked bag. The air pressure in the cargo hold can increase the risk of e-liquid cartridge leakage.
Keep your vaporizer/battery separate in another carry-on bag or your pocket. Ensure it's completely clean without any residue. Never put the battery in your checked suitcase.
If you're asked to check-in your carry-on bag before boarding, it's normal, as sometimes there might not be enough space in the overhead bins. However, make sure to keep your toiletry bag and the vaporizer/battery with you before checking your bag.
If you spot dogs at the airport, there's no need to be alarmed. Cartridges don't emit a strong smell, so stay calm and act like it's just a regular flight.
Bringing marijuana on a commercial airplane can be risky because it is still considered illegal by the federal government. Unless you have a note from your doctor for medicinal use, it's best to be cautious. Even being an activist for marijuana can come with risks in our country, so trying to take it on a plane with you can be even more challenging.
In some areas, attitudes towards marijuana have become more accepting, and there may be changes in federal laws in the future. However, for now, it's important to understand the risks involved in flying with marijuana.
So, is it possible to fly with marijuana? Technically, yes, but it comes with potential consequences. As an adult, you have the freedom to make your own choices, but it's essential to be aware of the risks before deciding whether it's something you want to do. Always remember to stay informed and make responsible decisions.
Summarized key points from the comments:
Stay toasty my friends.