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Going Out of Town? Use These Tips to Fly With Your Pipe

November 7, 2018
In the United States, airports require screenings conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a government agency that abides by federal regulations to conduct security checks. Lately, several airports around the country have adjusted their policies when flying with cannabis, but the TSA’s official policy still remains:

Possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law.

But what should you expect if you’re flying with a pipe or vape?

Need to relax before a flight? Find calming strains on menus near you.

I interviewed pipe and vape expert, Chad Hall, owner and founder of Maine’s After Hours Smoke Shop, to gather tips on how cannabis users can fly with ease on local, national, or international flights.

Tip: Clean Your Gear

Cannabis is still illegal on the federal level. As a result, your favorite pipe or vape is considered illegal drug paraphernalia if it contains traces of cannabis. But while TSA restricts the transportation of ‘drug’ paraphernalia in accordance with federal law, the agency officially allows tobacco pipes in carry-on and check-in bags.

One way to reduce the chance of any hiccups is to clean your vape or pipe thoroughly.

Due to the federal legislation around drug paraphernalia, carrying your cannabis pipe or vape through airport security can be risky, even if you’re departing from a state that has legalized cannabis possession. However, the individual TSA official who inspects your things still has the discretionary power to decide whether or not you get a green light on your gear.


The Do’s & Don’ts of Cleaning Your Pipes, Bubblers, and Bongs

One way to reduce the chance of any hiccups is to clean your vape or pipe thoroughly. Hal’s tips include emptying the oil from your cannabis oil distillate cartridge prior to traveling. He recommends cannabis-using travelers carry pipes through security checkpoints only after the use of alcohol or a specialized pipe cleaner to scrub away cannabis resin.

Tip: Place Your Cannabis Tools in Plain View

Regardless of your choice to clean your piece or not, there still remains a chance that TSA will pull you aside for traveling with a suspicious item if they see a pipe or vape in your luggage.

To reduce the chances that you’re viewed as a suspect to the crime of possessing illegal paraphernalia, store your clean piece in plain sight—doing otherwise can be regarded as “artful concealment.


What to Expect If You Try to Fly With Cannabis

Artful concealment, in simple terms, means concealing a ‘suspicious’ object in a creative way. An example of this is hallowing out a book to conceal a gun inside. If you pull this move with your pipe, you can be accused of artful concealment and face immense penalties including expensive fines, jail time, and immigration consequences.

Tip: Keep it Discreet and Convenient

The minimum expectation most cannabis users may have when flying is staying safe, but what about keeping your cool amidst it all?

Hall asserts that, in order to fly with ease, it’s advantageous to travel with small, non-odorous, and non-breakable pieces—that way, you don’t have to worry about broken glass or strong odors in your luggage when you’re moving through airports.


What Are One-Hitter Pipes and How Are They Used to Smoke Cannabis?

For flower, Hall proposes the use of a chillum, or a one-hitter, because it’s small and therefore convenient. Another great option for durability is a silicone hand pipe.

“It’s becoming super popular to have those silicone pipes because you can squish ‘em and roll ‘em up. They’re really easy to carry and to take care of and they’re not going to break.”

… clean your gear, don’t hide it from authorities, and make it convenient.

As for vapes, Hall suggests that the safest way to go “would 100 percent be the distillate vapes or vapes in general for wax.” With distillates, he claims, “you’re not going to smell it at all, even if you blow it out in a vape form … a lot of people would think it’s an e-cigarette. That’s our biggest seller for people who are in jobs where [their cannabis use] is not something they want everyone knowing about.”

If you’re traveling by air, consider these suggestions for having a stress-free and enjoyable commute: clean your gear, don’t hide it from authorities, and make it convenient.

Ayesha Sharma's Bio Image

Ayesha Sharma

Ayesha Sharma is a New York and Cape Town based multimedia content producer and editor whose work has appeared in Medium, Everyday Feminism, the Urban Democracy Lab, and other publications. To stay up to date with their latest work, follow them on Twitter (link below)

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  • Alan McLemore

    No. Don’t do it. Under any circumstances. Few Americans know just how much power the TSA has, or how few rights travelers have when confronting them. There is nothing worth bringing anything even remotely associated with pot or anything else illegal onto a plane. If you can’t mail it, do without it. If you can’t do without it, drive. But NEVER, NEVER, NEVER bring anything onto a plane that can get you crosswise with the TSA. Very bad idea.

    • 360dunk

      That would have been the case yesteryear but nowadays they’re just looking for weapons and explosives. The airport dogs that sniff are not sniffing for pot any more. Even if TSA stumbles upon your small amount of personal weed, they won’t do much more than confiscate it at most airports. The best option is to travel with just enough personal stash to get you through the trip so that it’s obvious you aren’t trafficking.

    • Robert Wayne

      Screw TSA, soon it will be legal.

  • Tonia Fischer

    Here in Las Vegas, the TSA basically said they wouldn’t stop you for having anything considered legal by the state. Makes sense. You haven’t left the state yet, so it’s not illegal to possess what you’re legally able to have in your possession granted by the state.

  • 360dunk

    Why bring any paraphernalia at all? If you can’t survive a week or so on the road w/o a pipe or bong or rolling papers, you’re hopeless. Bring edibles and/or a couple of pre-rolls….you can go a few days without vaping gear. If you’re travelling to a cannabis-friendly state, bring nothing and just go visit a dispensary.

  • Crystal Campisi

    Put your vape pens in with your makeup and mascara tubes. They look similar, don’t smell for dogs, and I’ve flown out of the country this way with no problems~

  • kaly Q.

    What about international traveling? I’ll be going from Washington DC to Costa Rica in a month, and i have a pipe, and a vape with a couple of oil canisters 85% sativa. Do i have a chance? Is it risky? Better not do it? Please, any help or advise is greatly appreciated