Traveling with Weed: Can You Fly With Medical Marijuana in 2024?
Marijuana is booming in the U.S., with more states legalizing recreational and medicinal weed. With 48 million people estimated to have used cannabis at least once in 2019, this runaway train cannot be stopped.
But can you fly with weed? What about flying with edibles? Unfortunately, flying with marijuana is prohibited because all airports fall under federal jurisdiction. With that out of the way, let’s delve further into the issue of weed, medicinal weed, and traveling with edibles.
Photo by Arthur Edelmans
Can You Fly With Weed if You Have a Medical Marijuana Card?
Deciding to fly with your weed would be a big mistake. Whether you are trying to transport it in your carry-on baggage or your checked luggage, marijuana is illegal to take through the country’s airports.
According to the New York Times, traveling with medical marijuanas, even with a valid medical card, could lead to you being arrested and charged with possession, drug trafficking, or any other number of felonies.
But you may wonder why this would happen if you fly between two states that have legalized medical marijuana.
This is because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still lists marijuana or any other THC product as a Schedule 1 drug. Since all airports fall under federal jurisdiction, federal law supersedes state law.
Remember, the federal government doesn’t acknowledge marijuana as having any official medicinal uses, meaning they don’t recognize your medical card. So, can you fly with medical marijuanas in 2022? Under no circumstances can you fly with weed. The same goes for any THC product, whether you want to travel with edibles, your vape, or any other THC product.
Do Airlines Prohibit Travel with Medical Marijuana?
One quirk to remember is that some airlines have prohibited travel with medical marijuana, even if you possess a medical card.
These airlines include:
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Delta Airlines
However, if you’re figuring out how to fly with weed and are concerned about your airline’s policy, this is not something to worry about.
Your airline has no right to search your baggage; therefore, they have no way of knowing whether you are carrying medical marijuana or not. Also, the airline can only ban you from future travel or report the incident to the authorities.
The rules you should be concerned about are federal rules rather than worrying yourself over a snooping cabin attendant.
As always, be discrete.
What Happens if TSA Finds Weed in Checked Luggage?
Firstly, you need to understand the role of the TSA. The TSA’s mandate commits them to detect threats to security and thwart terrorism.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, TSA security officers don’t actively search for marijuana or other illegal drugs. Instead, they are bound to report the matter to a law enforcement officer.
In practice, this is rarely what happens.
The Washington Post states that the reality is if a TSA officer discovers weed in your luggage, they will ask you to dispose of it. In some airports, you may even find amnesty boxes where you can dump your weed before checking your luggage.
Technically speaking, if a TSA officer decides to report the matter to local law enforcement and you carry weed legally, you’re extremely unlikely to be charged.
Some airports do prohibit possession of marijuana on their property, so they can issue fines if you’re caught.
What Happens if TSA Finds Weed in Carry-On Luggage?
The same rules apply to carry-on luggage as checked. Although the rules state that the TSA should report their findings to the DEA and the local authorities, this does not always happen.
Potential outcomes are that they’ll confiscate it, ask for you to put it in an amnesty box, or even ask you to take it back to your car. TSA typically only reports to the authorities if you possess large amounts or you’re underage.
In short, the TSA has more pressing concerns than a half-smoked joint in your carry-on.
However, it’s largely down to the agent’s discretion. For example, TSA New England discovered a large candle in a passenger’s luggage containing a stash of marijuana. The traveler supposedly purchased it as a Secret Santa gift.
On this occasion, TSA agents at Logan Airport decided to report the passenger to Massachusetts State Police. But, again, Massachusetts is a legal weed state, so it’s highly unlikely the traveler will be charged.
Can You Bring a THC Vape on a Plane?
You cannot bring a THC vape on a plane like edibles in a checked bag. Federal regulations don’t just apply to marijuana-based products but THC-based products.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), federal regulations prohibit products containing more than 0.3% THC.
You have nothing to worry about if you’re using a low-THC vape containing primarily CBD that falls under the 0.3% THC threshold.
However, TSA is unlikely to inspect what’s actually in your vape. So unless you decide to vape on airport property or in the air, this is one of the most straightforward solutions for how to sneak weed on a plane.
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Flying with Edibles
Can you travel on a plane with medical marijuanas if it’s in the form of an edible?
The same rules apply to going through security with edibles as with a joint. Since edibles are marijuana-based products, you cannot legally take them through security and fly with them.
If TSA catches you, they will report the matter to local law enforcement.
What About Putting Edibles in Checked Bags?
Edibles are illegal to transport in your carry-on or your checked bag.
Packing your edibles into your checked bag is the worst thing you can do. TSA random luggage search rates are far higher with checked luggage. These bags are far more likely to be searched, meaning you are more likely to have your edibles detected.
Can Dogs Smell Edibles?
Dogs trained to sniff out drugs will have zero problems detecting cannabis edibles. Remember, dogs have a nose that’s 100,000 times more powerful than our own.
Attempting to mask the smell with another odor will not throw a drug dog off the scent. However, there are still those who believe certain smells can cover up their edibles, but this isn’t the case.
For example, sniffer dogs in the Turkish vacation city of Antalya found a space cake in the luggage of a passenger arriving from Amsterdam. Unfortunately for the passenger, marijuana use is highly illegal in Turkey, meaning he was taken into custody.
What Happens if You Get Caught with Edibles?
Now we have established that the answer to “Can you take edibles on a plane?” is no. What happens if TSA finds weed in checked luggage or your carry-on?
Once again, the TSA isn’t actively looking for illicit substances. Instead, they are concerned with security threats in the U.S.
Some TSA agents may turn a blind eye to your edibles, depending on where you are, but they will usually refer the matter to local law enforcement.
Your treatment then depends on the officer and where you are. If you’re flying out of Portland, Seattle, or Denver, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to dispose of your edibles and nothing more.
Technically, you can be charged with various misdemeanors and felonies relating to drug trafficking and possession.
Can You Fly with CBD?
With 3.6 million legal medical marijuana patients wondering if they can take their medicine with them, CBD may feel like an ideal alternative to get you through your flight.
So, can you fly with CBD gummies in 2022, for example?
Yes, you can. CBD is not a controlled substance at the federal level. Laws passed in recent years removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing hemp-derived CBD. In terms of flying, you can enter an airport and board an aircraft with your CBD.
Do remember that not every state has legalized hemp. Some states continue to classify hemp as a controlled substance, so if you’re flying into a limited number of states, you may be committing an offense.
States also have different laws regarding where CBD can be derived from. For example, the only states that continue to ban marijuana-derived CBD are:
- South Dakota
Other states, such as Georgia and Arizona, limit CBD products designed for the recreational market. In these cases, if you’re a recreational user, you would technically need to be a part of those states’ medical programs or benefit from reciprocity to legally possess or consume CBD.
Can You Fly with CBD Gummies in 2023?
Can you fly with medical marijuanas in 2022? No, but what about flying with CBD gummies?
You can, but the same rules and restrictions apply as they do to other CBD products. As long as your gummies consist of 0.3% THC or less, you can fly with them.
Note that your gummies must be legalized at state and federal levels for a product to be technically legal in your destination state.
Can You Travel with Medical Marijuanas in a Car?
If the idea of working out how to bring weed on a plane doesn’t appeal to you, the alternative is to take your own personal vehicle to your destination.
Whether you can travel with your medical marijuana by road depends on where you are going. If you live in a state where medical marijuana has been legalized, and you are driving elsewhere, you are unlikely to experience any problems.
However, your state will still have rules on driving under the influence, passengers smoking in the vehicle, and even how your medical marijuana should be packed.
So, if you are driving from San Diego to Los Angeles, you should have no problems. However, it is strongly recommended that you pack your medical marijuana away, preferably in the trunk of your vehicle.
If you choose to drive with medical marijuana across states, you are committing an offense. Crossing state lines with medical marijuana remains illegal due to federal law.
According to the nonprofit advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, the majority of marijuana arrests begin as straightforward traffic stops. So, never drive under the influence, and keep your medical marijuana out of sight and locked away.
But what does it matter if you travel between two states where marijuana has been legalized for recreational or medicinal purposes?
Legally, law enforcement can arrest you if they suspect that you have transported marijuana across state lines, regardless of the laws within each state. Whether this happens is another matter. Anecdotal evidence shows many officers turning a blind eye to the issue, but if not, you can be charged with drug trafficking.
Photo by Luke Porter
States with Medical Marijuana Reciprocity
Some states have reciprocity agreements regarding medical marijuana. Under these reciprocity agreements, you can use your medical marijuana card to access dispensaries in other states.
This is why when people ask, “Can you fly with medical marijuanas?” they often ask how they can sneak their weed onto a plane. However, with medical marijuana reciprocity agreements in place, there’s no need to take the risk.
However, medical marijuana reciprocity isn’t universal or uniform. Every state has its own rules on recognizing out-of-state MMJ cards. Unfortunately, most states have limited agreements, and some states only accept MMJ cards from certain other states.
As of this writing, here are the states that recognize out-of-state MMJ cards in one form or another:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
Other states may not recognize out-of-state MMJ cards but offer temporary MMJ cards for visitors. These application processes can vary from cheap and simple to expensive and arduous.
States with temporary medical marijuana card programs include:
Obviously, if recreational marijuana has been legalized in a state, you can still enter a dispensary and purchase weed with nothing more than your driver’s license. However, even in some recreational states, they may not allow access to their medicinal programs for non-residents.
States with no reciprocity include:
- Georgia (this is expected to change in 2023)
- Missouri (changed in February 2023)
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Interestingly, some states like Missouri and Utah allow possession of cannabis in their states if you have a card, but you’re not allowed to purchase it.
It’s wise to stay updated on the latest legal situation since many states are experiencing evolving laws on the status of recreational and medicinal cannabis.
Get Your Medical Marijuana Card Today!
Can you fly with medical marijuanas in 2022? Under the current federal regulations, you’re prohibited from flying with any product containing more than 0.3% THC, regardless of where you’re flying to or whether you have a medical card.
Widening reciprocity agreements make obtaining your medical card more valuable than ever before. Getting your medical card, even in rec legal states, is a wise idea if you intend to travel.
Green Health Docs can support you in understanding the requirements of your state’s program and applying for your card. Contact Green Health Docs to apply for and receive your MMJ card today.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.