Before You Pack: How To Travel With Cannabis

Know the law before you travel with weed.
Know the law before you travel with weed. /

Legalization has made a lot of progress over the past few years, however cannabis remains federally illegal in the United States, which can make traveling with weed a bit confusing depending on where you’re going and how you’re planning to get there.

If you’re traveling from legal state to illegal state, legal state to legal state, U.S. to a different country, or any other iteration, the rules may vary greatly for what you can and cannot bring. 

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect weed-wise, whether you’re traveling by plane or automobile.

And if you're traveling with any accessories like a pipe or bong, for instance, you might want to clean those thoroughly.

Driving with Weed

Whether you’re driving from legal state to legal state or legal state to illegal state, crossing any state border with cannabis technically falls under federal jurisdiction, which is illegal. This means that any time you move from one state to another with cannabis, you’re technically breaking the law. 

Even a first offense can get you up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if caught traveling with a large amount. However, the odds of you getting pulled over and raided for the quarter-ounce you packed for a road trip are pretty slim--these laws are more often directed at trafficking-level amounts of cannabis. 

Although you aren’t likely to be pulled over and arrested for driving with weed, you’ll still want to practice caution if weed is in the vehicle. The measures you can face for being caught driving weed from state to state are actually greater than those you’d face from flying with weed, so keep that in mind. 

While The Bluntness does not encourage anybody to violate federal drug trafficking laws, here are some tips for staying careful while traveling:

  • Make sure to have a discreet storage box/bag for your stash. If you decide to run the risk of traveling across state lines with cannabis, make sure to bring something to store it in that’s discreet and easy to hide if necessary. 

Cannabis accessory brands have tons of stash bags designed specifically to mask smell, but you can definitely get creative with it if you don’t feel like spending a lot of money on a specialized design. 

  • Don’t consume in the vehicle, especially when traveling through illegal states. This is an obvious “no” for whoever is driving, but when you’re a couple hours into a long road trip and the playlist has you drifting off into a funky dreamworld, the other passengers will definitely feel tempted to spark up a blunt.

As tempting as it may be, don’t let anyone consume weed in the vehicle while traveling, especially if you’re in an illegal state. Some states that are still particularly harsh on cannabis can stop you for a search based on something as trivial as smelling cannabis as you drive by. 

  • Less is more. When driving from state to state with cannabis, you face serious consequences that only get worse the more weed you’re transporting. 

You’re better off bringing a limited amount that will subsist you for your travels, and then trying to find weed to purchase once you’ve reached your final destination. You may even want to do research ahead of time, mapping out the closest dispensaries if you’re in a legal state, or finding the right connection for you otherwise. 

Flying with Weed

Although flying with cannabis sounds arguably scarier than driving, it’s actually one of the safest ways to transport your stash from one location to another. While highway patrolmen are focused on out-of-state license plates and intent on catching any sort of shady interstate activity, TSA doesn’t even have cannabis on their minds.

Throughout your travel process at the airport, you’ll come across a few signs outlining the banned items TSA is looking for, like firearms, toxic liquids, or other items that can be used to put your fellow passengers in danger. A personal use amount of cannabis does not fall under this category.

Although it technically isn’t legal to bring weed on your flight (unless you’re flying to and from legal states), you won’t face much consequence if caught. TSA will call the local police, and you may end up having to explain to them why you’re flying with a cartridge or a few grams of flower.

On a personal note, I’d never admit to flying with cannabis, but if I were to, then I’d also admit that I’ve never faced any issues when doing so. 

Notably, one can now find "cannabis amnesty" boxes at airports in Chicago, and New York airports won't bother you about cannabis at all as long your more than what is legally allowed in the state.

That being said, it’s still not completely risk-free. Here are a few tips for flying with cannabis within the U.S.:

  • Don’t put your stash in a checked bag. While it may sound like a better idea to pack your cannabis in your checked bag and forget about it until you land, checked bags actually run a much higher risk of being randomly selected for a search.

Transporting your weed via carry-on definitely comes with a certain amount of anxiety, but at least if your bag gets pulled over, you’ll be present and aware of the situation. 

When you’re thinking about where in your carry-on you should stash your weed, the key is to not overthink it, and try to keep things as close to natural as possible. For example, if you’ve brought a few loose joints, put them in a cigarette pack with some normal cigarettes. 

Another popular hack is to empty any opaque prescription drug bottle, like Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Place your weed in, put a few cotton balls over it, and you’re good to go. 

  • Divide up your stash as much as possible. Whenever I travel, I usually have my carry-on bag along with a tote bag for my laptop or items I’ll need on the plane, like snacks or a book. 

If you’re nervous about the amount of cannabis you’re trying to get through TSA, you may benefit from dividing your stash among your bags rather than putting everything in one spot. That way if one of your bags gets pulled over and your products are confiscated, at least you have a backup stash in your other bag. 

However, you should never try to transport more than one ounce of weed, otherwise you run the risk of being flagged for serious drug trafficking offenses. 

  • Make sure you’re fully complying with TSA’s regulations. It’s easy enough to sneak a few grams of flower through TSA, but it will become significantly harder if your bag gets pulled over because you packed a full bottle of lotion that’s being flagged. 

Carry-on bags don’t allow for any liquids over three ounces, and if you’re bringing a laptop or iPad, you have to put it through TSA separately, or you’ll risk your bag being opened and searched. 

Basically, make sure your carry-on is set up and organized so it just needs to go through the scanner. The more you can avoid any attention being drawn to you and your items, the better.

  • Skip oils, tinctures or topicals and opt for flower, edibles, or cartridges. Since TSA is quite strict with transporting liquids, you’re better off leaving the tinctures and oils at home. Traveling with flower is much less risky, and traveling with edibles or cartridges is even safer.

Cartridges are incredibly discreet and often resemble pens, and edibles are the cannabis products that resemble cannabis the least. As long as the smell isn’t too pungent, it can easily be passed off as an airport snack. 

  • Be extra aware of laws if you’re traveling internationally. While flying with weed within the U.S. is a relatively painless process, traveling internationally with weed runs you a much higher risk of getting in trouble. For example, although cannabis is federally legal in Canada, it remains illegal to transport any amount of the plant across the border without authorization, even to another legal country. 

Make sure to be aware of this, and definitely practice an extra amount of caution when traveling internationally. You’ll want to avoid flower entirely and instead opt for edibles or cartridges, if you’re still willing to take the risk.

Alternatively, it may serve you best to do a bit of research on the country you’re traveling to and figure out where you’ll be able to purchase your cannabis once you arrive. 

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