Can I bring marijuana on the plane?

Published Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hopping a plane with marijuana in your luggage? Read this first.

Vacation season's here -- a time when many of us face that all-important question: Can I bring marijuana on the plane?

The answer can be a bit blurry.

So, let's unpack the facts.

First, it's federally illegal to possess marijuana, which means it's also illegal to fly with marijuana.

But -- as many passengers know -- travelers frequently board planes with undetected amounts of marijuana.

Here's why.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, a federal entity of the Department of Homeland Security, airport security officers don't search for marijuana or other drugs. But if officers observe a substance that appears to be marijuana, the TSA's required to report the matter to law enforcement officers.

It's law enforcement officers, not the TSA, who decide whether to issue a warning or citation, confiscate the marijuana, or make an arrest.

Second, how strictly law enforcement officers react to finding marijuana in someone's luggage seems to depend on the cities where the departure and arrival airports are located.

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In 2014, for instance, the TSA caught only 29 people with marijuana at the Denver International Airport (DIA) but not one received a citation. Instead, the marijuana-carrying passengers were allowed to board their flights after tossing out their weed.

A year later, airport officials in Portland, Oregon announced they'll allow passengers with legal amounts of marijuana to take their stash onboard their flights as long as they're flying within the state's boarders.

And only a few months ago, in California, police spokesman Rob Pedregon said if Los Angeles officers discover an ounce or less of marijuana on an adult traveler arriving into the city, law enforcement will recognize state law (not federal law) and let the traveler keep his or her stash, according to a Boston Globe article.

Travelers heading out of Los Angeles with legal amounts of marijuana will likely be allowed to take weed onto their flights, too, Pedregon said.

Third, there's a boom in smell-proof packaging products currently available online, such as hair brushes and Axe Body Spray canisters with hidden compartments. Such concealing packages are ideal for cannabis-consuming travelers.

Again, here's what you need to know:

  • It's federally illegal to fly with marijuana
  • TSA doesn't search for marijuana
  • If the TSA finds marijuana, they report it to law enforcement
  • Law enforcement decides to cite passenger, confiscate marijuana, or make arrest

To be clear, we're not endorsing that anyone break the law, but rather highlighting the fact that the TSA is not very strict in most instances. In fact, the TSA's more concerned about finding explosives, weapons and bottles of water than small amounts of cannabis.

It's also important to note, the TSA's policy applies to the United States only. International travelers would be wise to adhere to international travel laws, which can be more seriously enforced in some instances.

The good news is, if you're flying to San Diego and have a qualifying medical marijuana recommendation, we'll happily and discreetly deliver cannabis to you (in a smell proof bag, by the way).

There, see, we just saved you space in your luggage.




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