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What to Expect If You Try to Fly With Cannabis

December 30, 2015

Say you spent the holidays in one of the four states — or one district — where cannabis is legal. You get to the airport and realize you’ve accidentally left a gram or two in your pocket (OK, it might’ve been on purpose). You start to sweat. What will happen on your way through security?

Chances are good you’ll be better off than you would’ve been just a few years ago. It’s still against the law to cross state lines with cannabis, but a number of airports have relaxed their policies on how to handle offenders.

Let’s be clear: The Transportation Security Administration is a federal agency, and its website warns travelers that state laws are “not relevant to TSA screening.” If screeners do find cannabis, the agency says, it will refer the matter to law enforcement. In other words, just because you bought that joint legally doesn’t mean you can bring it on your flight.

Well, unless you’re staying in Oregon. Portland International Airport allows adults 21 and over to travel with cannabis as long as they’re flying to an in-state airport, according to a July announcement.

Washington state hasn’t gone quite that far, but Seattle-Tacoma International Airport told USA Today that officials won’t make a fuss provided travelers are complying with state law.

Leave the Pacific Northwest, though, and you might have a tougher time. Authorities at the Denver International Airport make travelers toss their cannabis, but you’re likely to get off without a citation despite posted warnings about fines.

In California, where only medical use is legal, you might be OK if you can show a doctor’s note. Cannabis Now noticed an Instagram post (since removed) by an employee of an extract-maker who was stopped after a TSA screener mistook kale chips for a bag of cannabis. The official said he would’ve let it go, the poster wrote, “had I shown my medical recommendation. Gotta love SFO!”

We still don’t advise taking your chances. An arrest is no way to ring in the new year.

For the First Time, DC Residents Can (Legally) Give Cannabis for Christmas

  • Annette F

    its much easier to fly with disposable vapes, just take em out of their packaging and throw them in your make up bag, I took 5 disposable vapes in my carry on from LAX to JFK with no problem.

    • Michael Whitney

      really?…have ya fly since?….still no prob?….i was wondering about vap’s…

  • RNinAK

    I took edibles, refillable vape pens and a few refill cartridges with me on my last trip and went through a total of 6 customs screenings and 6+ TSA screenings and saw sniffer dogs in at least two different airports. The dogs did not notice me at all. Even had a vape pen in my pocket by accident when I went through the TSA scanner at LAX. TSA guy looked at it, shrugged and waved me through. Definitely feel like edibles and concentrates are easier/better/stealthier than flowers.

  • Lucy In Sky Of Diamonds

    While I agree with the T.S.A “not having a problem with your weed” part, but I still think that medical cannabis users with a medical card are at a much better position than recreational users. This is because several airports are more marijuana friendly than others. But it would be still a wise decision to call up the airport authorities and confirm their MMJ policy beforehand.

    • Kathleen Collado

      In my experience, flying from Boston w flower in my check in bag even w a medical license it was confiscated. I was told I could pick it up on my return trip at the state police barracks. I still got a $100.00 citation. Vaporizers no problem.

  • Frank H

    The 2 posts below answered my questions about taking my vape pen and cartridges on a cross country road trip for the holidays. Police dogs can easily sniff out flowers, so I don’t want to bring any in the car. The vape gets the job done much more discretely, and I believe that I won’t get hassled on my trip.

  • FlunkedAgain

    “”” What to Expect if You Try to Fly With Cannabis “””

    Friendlier Flight Attendants?

  • viper643

    Disposable vape pens are the best at airports.