If you consume cannabis, the question of flying with your stash has surely crossed your mind. Understandably so: many people use cannabis as medicine and would never consider leaving home without it. The simple answer: it’s still technically illegal to fly with weed, but TSA isn’t interested in busting you for a vape pen and a few joints in your 420 travel kit.
Flying with Weed: Is it Legal?
“TSA security officers do not search for marijuana.” – TSA.gov
The long answer is, it’s a bit more complicated than that. If you’re looking for the secrets of how to sneak weed on the plane like the peanut butter jar idea… think again. This guide is for responsible, mature adults who are not interested in acting deviously.
The answer depends on where you’re flying, how much cannabis you intend to carry, and how much risk you are comfortable assuming. We also have more specific information on TSA’s vape rules and how to take a vape pen on a plane.
Who’s in Charge?
Before we proceed, lets clear up a common misconception – TSA officers are not cops. They do security work, but their job is not to enforce the law. What about the canines? Those are more likely to be bomb dogs, as opposed to drug dogs, if you’re in the domestic terminal. Note: This pertains to domestic travel only! Being caught with cannabis abroad can have severe consequences, so be responsible.
That’s a Bomb dog, not a Drug dog
The TSA has publicly stated on its website that its officers “do not search for marijuana or other drugs,” but warns that its agents are required to turn over those found with cannabis or other drugs to local law enforcement (aka the cops). That said, your departure city and destination are important — they will dictate the laws you are subject to if you were to get caught.
Because cannabis is illegal nationally, the federal legality will not change with location. However, you will be subject to the individual state’s laws and the airport’s laws, if applicable. Keep in mind there is a whole other set of rules for paraphernalia, so you definitely need to do something about those unique weed accessories you’re carrying.
Now, the worst-case scenario: what happens if you do get caught? The outcome will vary greatly depending on whether you get caught in Colorado or Arkansas.
For instance, the Denver International Airport made cannabis possession illegal on airport grounds despite its legality statewide. However, they probably aren’t going to do anything if you get caught. In 2014, 29 people were caught trying to leave Denver International Airport (DIA) with cannabis and in each instance, police declined to issue citations – the passengers were allowed to board planes after throwing out the cannabis or concentrates.
The result would likely have been wildly different if the same person was caught leaving Arkansas International Airport, where the penalty for possessing up to 4 ounces of marijuana is punishable with up to a year of jail time and fines up to $2,500. If you are traveling to or from Denver, we highly recommend reading our tips for smoking weed at high altitude. No one wants to inadvertently ruin their first “weedcation,” or a trip to Colorado to smoke.
Evaluate the Quantity
The amount of weed you can fly with is directly linked to your departing state’s possession limits. For example, if you are flying with weed on a plane within a state with legal cannabis programs, you can fly with an amount up to that state’s legal medical and/or recreational limit. Just be aware that if you land in a state with less friendly cannabis laws, you are now at risk of being charged with possession.
If you are flying from a state where cannabis remains illegal and you are dead-set on flying, try to keep quantities under your state’s lowest tier possession limit. As a general rule of thumb, both TSA and local law enforcement officers are going to be less concerned if you are traveling with an amount of cannabis that is clearly for personal use (like a few joints, or a vaporizer and a small container with BHO or another concentrate), as opposed to a weight viable for distribution.
Recommendations for Mitigating Risk
There is no perfect combination of itinerary or cannabis quantity that will guarantee a risk-free flight. For those struggling with nerves, either consume before the flight or consider edibles, as they are virtually indistinguishable from their un-infused counterparts and produce very little odor.
One option is simply bringing your smoking supplies and then buying the herb itself when you arrive at your destination. A safety case stash box allows you to pack all your smoking essentials like rolling papers, pipes, grinders, lighters and more. If the whole idea makes you uncomfortable, you might consider traveling with CBD, which is a non-psychoactive option that is perfectly legal to fly with.
What About CBD?
As CBD and industrial hemp products are legal at the federal level, you are permitted to travel with them. That said, we need to make a special note about hemp flower in particular.
If you are traveling with raw hemp flower, you’ll need to understand that, if you are caught with it, there’s an excellent chance that law enforcement will believe it is cannabis regardless of what you have to say. Quality organic hemp flower (like the strains from Canna Comforts) is visually and olfactory indistinguishable from cannabis flower (Lifter strain shown in image below) so it will take laboratory testing to prove it’s legal.
While the legality of the buds can be determined through laboratory testing, you may be stuck somewhere until your name is cleared — not ideal! For this reason, it might be best to stick to CBD vape pens while traveling for the time being.