How To Travel with Weed (Responsibly!)

Cannabis is legal, in some form, in a majority of the country, and it’s increasingly legal abroad. With more places opening up medical marijuana and recreational sales, you’d think traveling with weed would be getting easier. Unfortunately, because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, this complicates matters. As you’ll see below, traveling with cannabis anywhere outside of the state of purchase runs into federal restrictions.

Do people still travel with weed? Of course! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks associated with the trip.

Understanding the Legal Landscape

First things first, let’s break down the current legal patchwork that’s appeared across the US. There are more than 20 states with adult-use rules and 38 states allowing for some form of medical marijuana. That means more people than not can buy weed legally. But just because it’s legal where you live doesn’t make it legal to travel with.

What if you travel from California to Nevada for a weekend in Las Vegas? Weed is legal in both states, so you’d be forgiven if you assumed you could pack your bags with Cali’s best bud and bring it to the Strip.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Federally, marijuana possession is illegal and remains classified as a Schedule I drug. Crossing state borders by train, plane, or car is technically federal territory — even if you are traveling between two legal states like Cali and Nevada or have a medical marijuana prescription.

Of course, people still travel with weed all the time. State lines don’t have border patrols or checkpoints, so much of this interstate movement goes unnoticed. But if you are thinking about packing that bag of gummies or vape pens with you for your next domestic trip, you should be aware of the risks.

International Travel with Cannabis

With recreational cannabis now legal in Canada (and a growing number of other countries), you could also easily assume you can cross the border with a pocket full of cannabis.

Much like it’s technically illegal to cross state lines with cannabis, it’s also illegal to cross international borders. According to the Canadian federal government, this includes medical marijuana and CBD products, as well as THC-rich items.

Even if you are traveling from a legalized state, let’s say Washington or Michigan, into Canada, you are still at risk of breaking federal law. Should a law enforcement officer at the border find cannabis on your person, you not only risk getting refused at the border, but you will be referred to federal agents, and you’ll likely receive a long-term ban on entry.

Can You Fly with Weed? The Transportation Security Administration’s Cannabis Policy

As soon as you enter an airport, you enter the domain of the Transportation Security Administration. This federal authority regulates airports, airlines, and other types of “mass transit.”

According to the TSA, its primary focus is on security, not detecting drugs. That means the TSA’s screening procedures look for weapons, dangerous goods, and evidence of terrorism, not your secret stash of weed. Good news, right?

You may want to reconsider. As the TSA states, “TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities.”

A TSA security officer, being a federal agent, follows federal policy. This means “Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA.”

What happens if the transportation security administration finds weed in your checked or carry-on luggage? They may simply ignore it, toss it, or, if you run into a TSA officer on a bad day, forward your case to federal authorities. It all depends on the policies of local law enforcement.

You’ll find similar rules from domestic airlines. If you check their policies, you’ll see statements like “Delta Air Lines does not allow passengers to transport marijuana on our flights” and “Alaska Airlines does not allow guests to transport marijuana on any of our flights.” No matter who you fly with, they fall under federal jurisdiction, and therefore, federal cannabis rules

A Growing Number of Local Exceptions

When it comes to airport regulations, there are a notable number of exceptions to the rule — at least that apply before the TSA security screening.

Los Angeles International Airport

California Peace Officers stated they have “no jurisdiction to arrest individuals if they are complying with state law.” The TSA security officers fall under federal law, though, which is something to remember as you prepare to fly.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

Suppose you forgot about that preroll you have tucked in your back pocket. Lucky for you, O’Hare offers travelers cannabis amnesty boxes so you can get rid of the evidence before heading to security.

John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport

The Port Authority Police Department, the authority for both of New York’s major airports, has stated, “New Yorkers 21 years old and older can possess, obtain and transport up to three ounces of cannabis,” so it doesn’t issue tickets for anyone following these state marijuana laws.

Vancouver International Airport

If you happen to be in Vancouver, Canada, you can legally have a quick puff before your check-in, thanks to the cannabis-smoking section located just outside the terminal.

Tips for Traveling with Cannabis

Federal laws make it clear that traveling across state lines, over international borders, and on mass transit with cannabis remains illegal. But no matter these risks, people still choose to pack a few edibles or prerolls into their bags before hitting the road.

Despite everything listed above, if you still plan to make your next trip with your favorite strain of cannabis-infused products along with you, here are a few tips for the road:

  1. Check Local Laws: At the very least, confirm that cannabis is legal at your destination. It’s one thing to slip by TSA officers, but another to get caught by local law enforcement in an anti-cannabis state with a bag full of flower.
  2. Don’t Draw Unnecessary Attention: Whatever you do, don’t pull out a bag of gummies while waiting in line at security. Don’t try to charge your vape pen battery at the terminal or, worse, vape in the airport bathroom before your flight.
  3. Stock Up at Your Destination: Remember, more states than ever now have a booming legal cannabis business. Whenever possible, leave your stash at home and simply stock up at your destination. This is by far a less risky way to travel.

Why Travel to Vegas with Weed When You Can Buy It Here?

There are a lot of complications trying to travel with cannabis these days, no matter how many states legalize it. Ultimately, the safest approach when traveling with cannabis is to thoroughly research and comply with all relevant laws, which include local and federal regulations.

But if you happen to be traveling to Las Vegas soon, you’ll be pleased to know that cannabis is legal here. Instead of risking it, make Cookies Flamingo on West Flamingo Boulevard your first stop after landing. We’ll get you sorted with everything you need to make your next visit here one to remember!

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