Smoker's Guide to Traveling
Traveling can be stressful for many reasons, and you want to be able to smoke if possible! Whether it is for The Holidays, a relaxing vacation, a last-minute trip, meeting the in-laws, a delayed flight, or a flat tire on the road, it is easy to get unnerved when making your way from Point A to Point B. As always, you should consult your own legal counsel in your area for the most up-to-date answers. We’ll take the guesswork out of questions like, "Can I take my vaporizer on a plane?" or "Can I take rolling papers on a bus?" Our smoker friends are also asking where to avoid traveling with a rolling kit domestically and outside of the US. Let Rolling Paper Depot be your guide as you seek to answer the most asked questions and where to avoid when traveling with your smokes and accessories. Most things are situational, but we've pulled together some cool tips and tricks to make you aware of the best ways to travel via various modes of transportation like busses, airplanes, cars, boats and cruise ships, trains, etc. We also know where you need to just steer clear - places that are known for busting legal smoking herbs and herb products. Our information is compiled from our own experiences, tips submitted by smokers for smokers, and publicly available information about how to and where to (or not) travel with smoking and vaping lifestyle accessories, so you can keep calm and smoke on!
Taking a Road Trip?
Keep Your Smoke Within County Lines
Some smokers don't know that if a state allows for possessing, growing, and using legal smoking herbs, that does not necessarily mean that it is acceptable to travel with them. Usually, if it is allowed within your county of residence, you're fine, but your privileges regarding legal herbs are potentially going to be restricted anywhere outside county lines. Check your local laws with a qualified professional as ordinances for each US locality vary too much to enumerate here.
FACT: As of 2015, California is the only state that has ruled that all counties legally allow for the same minimum amount of legal smoking herbs.
Tobacco Pouch Travel Tip
Carrying around a small pouch of tobacco is a very smart thing to do when traveling, and in general, for all smokers. Think about it... If you have rolling papers, lighters, and other items that are used for smoking tobacco (which is perfectly legal and legitimate as long as you’re of the legal age of 18 in most places), then you are totally believable! It’s a strategy known as ‘plausible deniability’. Instead of 'paraphernalia', your smoke accessories are now considered roll-your-own tobacco equipment. To any casual onlooker you appear to be just another regular tobacco smoker, albeit one who takes their time & enjoys the ritual and art of rolling your own cigarettes - even if your intent is for smoking herbs. It's a cheap, easy way to divert attention away from what might be considered ‘paraphernalia’, and a good deterrent against anyone who may want to search you further because suspicion as a factor is now limited. Do yourself a favor and purchase the Raw Smoking Pouch and fill it with tobacco.
What Smoking Products Can I Bring On A Plane?
Although smoking herbs may be legal in your state, federal law overrides state laws, especially when it comes to travel. Here are some questions we are frequently asked in regards to bringing pre-rolls and accessories when traveling by plane.
Q: Can I Bring Legal Smoking Herbs or Accessories with Herb Traces on a Plane?
Overall, although not well defined, the answer is no. The TSA (Federal Transportation Security Administration) advises that even if you are completely legal to possess and use legal herbs in the state you are departing, and even if you are heading to a state where it is also legal, the answer is still no. This is because airports and flights are governed by federal law. Federal law trumps state law every time, so the possession of actual herbs and/or accessories with any herbal remnants while in transit between like-minded states is a definite no-no! It is not legal, as far as the TSA’s regulating board is concerned. Keep in mind that you would technically be transporting legal herbs through other states’ airspace - this is why transporting (whether your destination and home state allow for it) is not a good idea, and deemed illegal, even with a prescription. As long as you have your prescription, anything found at the security checkpoint or in checked bags are normally just tossed into the trash or confiscated. But there is always a chance for more trouble, depending on state/county/federal/TSA-specific laws, which can be super strict.
NOTE: Some smokers have notified their local police of their travel plans prior to departure. If two local officers are present, their decision will typically override that of the TSA. However, TSA agents don't normally go out of their way to get you through security in this manner. You could try calling a week or two prior to your flight to see what type of protection you can get from police in the area. If anyone can bring a pill they have been prescribed, it's kind of absurd to have to jump through hoops as a smoker. But since these types of laws are new, you might have to do so. It's best to take the utmost precaution, just in case!
Q: When Is It Okay to Travel with Legal Herbs and/or Accessories?
As of current legislation when this article was written at the end of 2015, California is the only state that allows for the legal transport of smoking materials and accessories within state lines, but not necessarily in or out of their airports. In Oregon, Washington, and other legalized states, one might expect the same legislation but that is an incorrect assumption from a purely legal standpoint. While these states are lenient, they don't have to comply in the same way. The laws in California have simply not yet made their way onto the other states’ books. Again, this is one of the cases where, of course, many people have been able to travel without incident, but as research states, all it takes to get busted is the ‘wrong' TSA agent. Only in California can you fly in possession, but remember! It is just within the state.
Q: Can I Bring My Vaporizer on a Plane?
Again, the safe and technical 'legal' answer is no. Federal laws prohibit the transport of federally prohibited materials, no matter if it’s packed in carry-on or checked luggage. One smoker, however, brought up a case in Denver, Colorado, that, when going through security with a vaporizer, the local ruling on the legalities of carrying a 'personal' amount was called into play, and the security officials allowed it to pass. The moral of the story is that the TSA has not officially deemed vaporizers of any kind as specifically illegal. So note that it is currently a subjective issue in which a TSA agent, depending on whom you run across, can deem this as a "hazardous material" under the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) rules. The heating elements in the battery could potentially (as the law implies) be a threat to security.
Although there is no hard and fast rule in regards to this law, many vapers have given up their device in order to avoid legal trouble or missing a flight because they defended their rights. Time seems to be the major issue! Flyers are pulled from one line to another, one room to another, one intimidating agent or officer to another, and have overall (in Denver, at least, where it is actually legal to have both legal herbs and a vaporizer) forfeited their items.
Keep in mind that if there are no remnants of herbs on a vaporizer there is pretty much no chance it will be questioned. Because of this fact, it is recommended you clean your vaporizer completely before flying, or keep a few spares around the house for travel purposes! And interestingly enough, there are shops that rent out vaporizers for people who stay nearby! Portland and Denver have a few shops, and so do California and other various states. If you can't afford a new vaporizer, check into these options instead of bringing one on board. And remember, the pre-flight announcements now include language prohibiting the use of vaporizers while in flight.
Q: What Smoke Accessories Can I Safely Travel With on a Plane?
There seem to be only a few items that will pass inspection of passengers and checked and carry-on luggage. You can relax about bringing your smoking papers. These are easy because there are no trace remnants and they are commonly used for tobacco. Traditional pipes are also common for tobacco smokers. If you can't get a new one before traveling, clean it REALLY well, and smoke tobacco in it (or have a friend do it if you can't stand it!), then clean it out again.
Keep in mind that wherever you are going, we will ship to the place you are staying, so place an online order for whatever you need prior to arriving! Remember to give our shipping carriers plenty of time to deliver or pay for expedited services. Keep in touch with us & give us a heads up in the Order Comments or a separate call or email that you will be traveling and that the Shipping Address on your order is your travel destination. That way, we can make the proper arrangements and even make suggestions. If you don't want to get involved with the hassle of flying with something that might make you nervous, just ship ahead to your hotel or place of residence. Rolling Paper Depot ships all over the world, and will happily schedule your shipping to coincide with your stay!
So, here are the key points to consider when flying with smoking accessories:
- Bring your least favorite accessory in case you have to give it up for any reason.
- If you bring anything you're unsure of, most smokers agree that you should keep it in a checked bag and don’t go through security or carry it on the plane, even if you think it's perfectly legal. Just avoid the hassle.
- Because the TSA adheres to federal laws (which override state laws), they will not necessarily let you through with something they disagree with. Local police, however, may be able to override them if they are present and knowledgeable. One helpful tip is to literally call your local non-emergency police number prior to your airport visit to have them there for you. Call in about a week or so ahead, and you should be much less apt to get into any trouble at all.
- If you opt to bring anything, rolling papers are probably best. Pipes and vaporizers are usually fine too, if they have been cleaned out. You can buy cleaner online and then use the device for tobacco, or simply get a new one to travel with.
International travel with anything like this is usually not recommended. Please keep reading for more info on countries where you DEFINITELY want to plan on a tolerance break.
Most smokers say (no matter what state they are in) that it depends on 'which TSA agent you get,' This is something you can't control and probably don’t want to leave up to chance, so follow these tips, participate in the comments, and consult professional legal counsel to determine the best way to travel for you.
Let us know if we need to update our information based on factual data you’ve encountered or experienced. We want to keep this article as accurate as possible!
Checkpoints are popping up all over the US, but according to our research they tend to mostly pop up in the Midwest and in Border Country (typically known as the 100 mile zone stretching inland from any international border). Remote highway locations are definitely a trend for checkpoints as these hotspots tend to be less than ideal for driving with legal smoking herbs. Bright orange signage will alert you to a checkpoint that usually show something to the effect of "Drug Inspection". Some even state that a "K-9" is present. So, be aware of driving in isolated areas with few exits and small, “pass-through" towns or stretches of highway.
What does one do if one turns up in these locales? Make an illegal U-turn and put yourself in danger, as well as risk your safety? Take any exit and go back home to save yourself from the checkpoint? Keep driving and see what happens? These are a few of the less desirable options. Instead, arm yourself with the following information.
Advice for Drug Checkpoints & Legality
Drug checkpoints have been ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, citing a case that gave precedence in this matter, in the year 2000. The case of City of Indianapolis v. Edmond is the case to reference for this decision (and there have been others). Although some US highways and destinations will install signs and maybe even have a police force on the scene, they will frequently wait for drivers to make the illegal U-turn, throw the goods out of the window, or evade the situation and run a stoplight or speed. It works in law enforcement’s favor more than you think - many people don't know their constitutional rights in situations like this, so they will do something that violates the law that has nothing to do with an unconstitutional 'checkpoint'. There are countless videos on youtube discussing your legal rights during a traffic stop in the US. Everyone should exercise the rights outlined in the videos even if one is not carrying any herbs or tobacco accessories. Practice makes perfect, so be sure to practice when you are not carrying smoking materials.
Places to Avoid While Driving in the U.S.
Known checkpoints are rampant all over the United States. However, if you know about the checkpoints, then guess what?! You can simply avoid them. The old adage, “Knowledge is Power”, is true. We've uncovered some major checkpoints around the country, and they’re in states like Texas and Nevada. There are notable, popular checkpoints smokers should avoid when traveling over the road - whether it’s by bus, car, or train. Here’s our Top 3 --
Sierra Blanca, Texas
Commonly referred to as the “Checkpoint of No Return" and with a reputation as the most notorious and strict trap for herbs and other items, the Sierra Blanca checkpoint in Texas tops our list as one to stay away from. This is an infamous, sneaky checkpoint in a remote part of a remote town, full of drug-sniffing dogs and with a notable distinction for finding even the smallest stash. Since 1974, this checkpoint has been famous (literally) for stopping and busting drivers traveling east on the Interstate 10. If you’ve never heard of this small Texas backwater, consider this your warning.
You have to hand it to these patrolling officers in the sense that their stated mission is to make lawful arrests and follow through with the cases. They do their job... Oh wait, I guess we all have to from time to time. (Nuremberg Defense, anyone?) In any case, after reading story after story of people with small amounts of legal herbs and other items being charged with what was ultimately deemed as 'trafficking’, we say it's best to just avoid this border-town and checkpoint at all costs, even if that means adding miles and time to your trip.
Think you can buy your way out of the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol's charges? Good luck! If stars such as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Fiona Apple, and Nelly have been busted there, then we're pretty sure you want to avoid it no matter how much money or know-how you think you have.
I-8 in Arizona, East of Yuma
The Interstate 8, just east of Yuma, has a Border Patrol to be reckoned with! And we hate to admit that our Rolling Paper Depot HQ is located not far from here. If we want to attend a smoking event in California, we have to be careful of this one. :( Just one checkpoint along this thoroughfare was made 'famous' when drug possession charges were brought against rapper Lil Wayne and his tour bus crew (reportedly consisting of up to 10 other people). The Border Patrol in Arizona has set up what they describe as "tactical" roadblocks, which are legally allowed to be up to 100 miles away from the Arizona-Mexico border, to arrest record numbers of US citizens carrying herbal remedies. The police presence has been increased to include drug sniffing dogs that are dedicated to the apprehension of people carrying any amount of herbs, even if they are of the legal variety. This interstate is one we recommend to avoid due to the round the clock, no days off K-9 squad that have landed so many trials in court. There have been so many of these cases brought to trial, in fact, that some courts have begun dismissing thousands of cases per month. Just because some cases are being dismissed, that doesn’t mean they won’t try to serve you with one. With so many other border issues, smokers everywhere are wondering what these officers should be looking for versus what they are ticketing and arresting for. Nevertheless, be warned about this one.
I-80 in Nevada - Battle Mountain
The Battle Mountain area near Interstate 80 in Nevada is yet another remote area (are you beginning to spot the trend?) with a penchant for busting smokers that carry smoking herbs. It is safe to say that anyone carrying legal smoking herbs should look out for the area of Interstate 80 near Battle Mountain in Nevada. Many report driving through the remote area and seeing signs, complete with marked and unmarked police squads of 10 or 15 cars, at the checkpoint areas they set up sometimes. Plan on an alternate route if you choose not to leave your roll-your-own tools at home.
Traveling Abroad: Foreign Countries to Avoid When Traveling With Legal Smoking Herbs
So many places in the United States and Canada are totally down with the use and possession of legal herbs that it’s beginning to feel normal to those of us that live here. However, this is not the mindset of all countries! Even if you don't have an international trip planned, the consequences smokers face in these foreign destinations are interesting to read about and bear in mind. And be forewarned - these are not places you want to take legal smoking herbs of any sort! It’s best just to plan on taking a tolerance break if you’re heading to any of these destinations. Consider it a win-win!
Traveling to Japan
If you know anything at all about traveling abroad and carrying any sort of legal smoking herbs or accessories, you must know that Japan is certainly the worst of the worst for punishments, charges, and ideals surrounding these items. Interestingly, the Japanese culture views legal smoking herbs as essentially a deep, dark evil that a person is carrying, not only outwardly in their hand but also inwardly and profoundly in their soul. Don't expect any special treatment just because you are a US citizen if you are caught with herbs or anything else, for that matter. The Cannabis Control Law enacted in Japan states that getting caught with even ONE rolled cigarette containing smoking herbs will have you jailed for 5 years!!! Oh yeah, and don't forget about the hard labor included with the sentence. Even if you get lenience on the jail sentence or accusations, which is rare, you will be deported from the country and never allowed to return. This is probably the strictest nation we’ve seen policing legal smoking herbs. But, at least they usually let you live. That isn't so with all destinations!
Traveling to Indonesia
This region of over 18,000 islands and the cities therein, including the popular travel destination of Bali, is not very welcoming to travelers who have anything to do with smoking herbs. This country gives sentences anywhere from four to 15 years in their prison system for just one rolled herb cigarette. Chances are your stay in the jail will be short, and not because of lenience. Anyone lucky enough to stay alive considers themselves fortunate. This one we don't recommend either!
Traveling to Singapore
Singapore punishes the possession of legal smoking herbs very traditionally and in line with their draconian culture known ‘round the world. Punitive measures include prison time, painful public caning, and even death. Just being in the presence of people who are smoking or in possession of legal smoking herbs will have you arrested - and there are no search warrants required like in the good ol’ US of A. Needless to say, keep your smoking goods at home if you're going through or heading to Singapore!
Traveling to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)
Dubai is located in the United Arab Emirates and is a huge tourist destination for world travelers from all destinations, especially the rich and famous. However, if you need to travel with any legal smoking herb or accessory, this is definitely not the place for your dream vacation! UAE arguably has the utmost in strict laws for legal herbs. Possession of any herbs in any amount is punishable by a MINIMUM of four year prison sentence. Even testing positive for illegal herb trace elements in your blood or urine can be considered possession in UAE courts. There was one case in which the accused was found to have a very small trace amount of legal smoking herbs contained in a tobacco cigarette that was found on his person and even he was jailed for four years. Don't use a tobacco pouch to cover your legal herbs here. Say ‘Goodbye' to your herbs in Dubai!
Traveling to China
The Chinese government has been known to hand down the death penalty to people charged with drug offenses - and they were serious offenses - but still, we're painting a picture here. Others caught with what we consider to be legal smoking herbs or other illicit substances are given long sentences in police-run labor camps. The Chinese have enacted a zero tolerance policy that goes along with a minimum yet hefty jail sentence. It’s not worth it to smoke in China, no matter what!
Legal smoking herbs sound just like that - LEGAL smoking herbs. But ‘legal’ is defined differently on each part of the map. Refer to our Smoker's Guide to Travel to help you plan trips and travel strategically! Contact us anytime if you have a product question, or any question to include in an upcoming edition of Smoker's Guide tips. Step One to staying safe is simply being informed - so stay tuned to our blog, social, and website to stay up to speed. And please, share your experiences and knowledge in the comments so that we and others can learn from you!