When it comes to getting through airport security with marijuana, there is a mixed bag of information. Some supposed toker travel experts say that flying with weed is as easy as stowing small amounts in checked luggage, while others argue it is best to keep the stash discreetly in a carry-on.
No matter which advice a person chooses to embrace, rest assured they will start second-guessing it while standing in line waiting for their turn to show the TSA agent their ticket and photo ID. Then, even though they are only carrying enough weed to roll a small joint, they’ll nearly have a panic attack by the time their luggage hits the x-ray machine. This is when the nerves really kick into high gear and a series of lunatic thoughts like, “What will they do to me if they find that weed in my suitcase?” and “How much prison time am I looking at when that happens?” takes over and that little voice inside their heads tells them to drop their bags and run for dear life.
Whoa! Calm down there, Escobar. It’s not that deep. Sure, The folks at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are serious about their jobs, which is to prevent idiots, religious radicals and other unsavory characters from boarding airplanes with anything that might threaten the safety of the passengers. But they are not the Gestapo. These people understand that marijuana was never used to commit a savage act of terrorism, nor is it possible for someone to use it to invoke nuclear carnage. Weed is harmless, they get it. So, let’s just say that your rinky-dink marijuana stash is not a top priority.
But you still need to hide it from them.
“Are we cool? We like to think we’re cool,” TSA said in a recent Instagram post. “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,” the post continued. “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.”
Marijuana is now legal in many states for medicinal and recreational use, but it remains illegal under federal law. This means a traveler flying out of California who gets caught with marijuana by TSA agents is not going to face the same kind of hassles as someone flying out of Texas, where it is illegal. So depending on the law, getting caught with pot could mean just having to forfeit the stash before boarding the plane, or getting arrested, missing your flight and spending some time in jail. It is essential for travelers to understand the marijuana laws in the states they are flying in-and-out of – especially if they plan on chancing a dust-up at security over a little marijuana.
“We’re just reminding travelers to always be prepared for what to expect so that they are not caught unprepared or unaware of what would be allowed to pass through at a checkpoint,” Jenny Burke, a TSA spokesperson, told Forbes.
It is equally important for travelers to have a grip on how strict the airports are on the matter. Some of these facilities allow marijuana possession within the legal limits and others will even let travelers take weed beyond the security checkpoint if they are flying within a legal state. There are, however, some airports where their position on pot possession is vague. A few airports in legal states even provide travelers with “amnesty boxes” as sort of a last chance to dispose of weed before going through a security check. But these boxes are rare finds in the United States.
Flying with weed will remain problematic until the federal government ends the prohibition standard. Until that happens, though, smuggling pot through TSA is going to be a little risky. Congress is apparently looking into legislation this year that could lead to legalization at the national level, but for now, flying with weed should be considered illegal. Still, if you are searching for some tips on getting through TSA security checkpoints with marijuana clandestinely, we recommend reading our post “Smuggling A Little Marijuana On An Airplane Is No Big Deal.”