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Flying High – Traveling with Cannabis

By Amanda Ferron

It brings me so much joy to say that Cannabis Legalization is spreading across the USA. California led the way, legalizing Medicinal Cannabis in 1996. Since then, 40 states have passed some type of Medical Cannabis legalization, with 23 of those legalizing Adult Use (recreational use) Cannabis as well. 

Despite all this, Cannabis remains a schedule 1 drug, and is still illegal on a federal level. Between that fun fact, and the major differences in legalization state-to-state, the lines between legal and illegal Cannabis can seem somewhat blurred. Basically, there are a lot of gray areas…

Which leads a lot of people to ask: What are the rules when it comes to flying domestically with Cannabis?

Cannabis Conferences All Over The Country

There are so many different Cannabis conferences coming up! For:20 Minutes sponsor, PayRio, will be at quite a few of them. A couple our team is really looking forward to are:

With many Cannabis professionals taking to the skies, I talked to a few of my friends about how they handle traveling with Cannabis. Surprisingly, every single person I asked said they always bring their Cannabis with them. So I asked them what advice they would give to people who ask about flying with Cannabis, and these were their answers!

TSA – Yay, but Also Nay

Obviously, traveling to other countries with Cannabis is a very high-risk thing to do. The legality of Cannabis varies widely depending on what country you are traveling to, and do you really want to be locked up abroad?? No thank you! But even the TSA has been known to say that flying domestically with a small amount of personal use Cannabis is a pretty “low-risk” activity. Especially if you are flying from one legal state to another.

If you go to the TSA website and look up what you can and cannot bring with you in your bags, you will see a big “YES” next to Medical Marijuana. But, there is some fine print…

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.“

They’ve also addressed the subject in somewhat satirical instagram posts. In one post, bright green Cannabis leafs are pictured with the caption:

“Are we cool? We like to think we’re cool. We want you to have a pleasant experience at the airport and arrive safely at your destination. But getting caught while trying to fly with marijuana or cannabis-infused products can really harsh your mellow.

Let us be blunt: TSA officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs. Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement. This includes items that are used for medicinal purposes.”

See What I Mean?

SFGATE reporter Lester Black published an article in 2022, where he interviewed a couple of Bay Area attorneys regarding their thoughts on the subject. San Francisco Criminal Defense Attorney Neil Hallinan told Lester: “Is it illegal to carry it through security? The short answer is yes, on the federal level it is. But is it the kind of thing that the federal government wants to expend resources to enforce? No.”

So you can see why people are a little confused on the protocols when it comes to domestic airline travel and Cannabis… The overall recommendation definitely seems to be: It’s safest to leave your Cannabis at home. But, if you do choose to fly with your Cannabis, then there are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

Cannabis Friendly(er) Airports

If you are choosing to fly with your Cannabis, an important first step is to know how the airport you are flying out of feels about Cannabis. Here in the Bay Area, CA, there are definitely 2 great options: SFO and Oakland. Both of these airports are notoriously friendly to flyers carrying a personal-use amount of Cannabis in their carry on bag. 

Now don’t get me wrong, people have most definitely been arrested for traveling with Cannabis at these airports. But from what I can find, those people were trying to transport POUNDS. Not a small amount. So be smart, and don’t try to bring pounds with you. Personal use amounts only.

In places like California and Colorado, you are much less likely to have any issues flying with your personal Cannabis. However, if you are flying out of places like Texas or Wyoming; Places with zero forms of Cannabis legalization, you are taking a much larger risk. If Cannabis is discovered in your bags, TSA agents are encouraged to hand it over to local law enforcement. So being aware of local Cannabis laws is absolutely essential.

Tips From Friends

I have multiple friends who have to travel regularly, and they bring Cannabis with them every single time. A common practice I’ve noticed between a lot of them? They all have their medical recommendation printed out, and laid on top of their Cannabis… Cannabis that they always store in a smell proof bag, inside their carry-on.

Don’t have your Medical Rec? In a lot of states, that is an easy fix. Here in California, there are countless services that can provide you with a medical recommendation… You don’t even have to go into a physical doctors office anymore. You can do it all online! I usually use Quick, easy, and not too crazy expensive.

Looking for a smell proof bag? Look no further than Blazy Susan! On top of their legendary rolling trays and smoking accessories, they also offer some great smell proof bags! I was gifted one of their fanny packs, and I LOVE it! So many pockets, amazing quality, and completely smell proof!

My friends who travel very frequently also swear by TSA PreCheck. PreCheck makes the security screening process MUCH easier. You can go through without as much scrutiny, leave your shoes and belts on, leave your electronics in their bags… all that jazz. Definitely a much less stressful process!

Another product that a lot of my friends use to sneak a toke, is the Smoke Buddy filter. This little guy has a powerful filter that eliminates your exhale cloud! I actually use this filter in my everyday life. I have serious anxiety, which leads to some horrible stomach issues… So I keep an emergency vape pen on me at all times. If I am somewhere in a public space where hitting my Cannabis vape would usually be frowned on, I use my handy-dandy Smoke Buddy! Take a hit, blow it into the Smoke Buddy, and there’s no huge vape cloud! Perfect for sneaking a toke anywhere. 

Safe Travels

Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that come into play when deciding whether or not to fly with Cannabis. So when you’re thinking about “flying high” and bringing your Cannabis on your flight, make sure you take everything into consideration. If you decide to bring your medicine with you, take whatever steps you can to protect yourself. 

Safe travels my friends!