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The Smoker’s Guide to Travel: Air Trips

The Smoker’s Guide to Travel: Air Trips

Do you enjoy legal smoking herbs in your state, but aren't sure if you can bring them along on your upcoming flight? Are you wondering if you can travel by plane from one legal state to another and, if so, how to go about it? Are you considering taking legal smoking herbs to another country? If any of these scenarios sound familiar, let us break it down so you can make informed decisions about air travel, domestic and abroad. Before you decide whether to take the risk of traveling by plane with your smoking materials, take a few minutes to read on and arm yourself with the knowledge to strategically plan your trip.

Check out The Smoker’s Guide to Travel: Road Trips article for travel tips to use the next time you take this show on the road.

Understanding Federal vs. State Law

Things can get a bit confusing when weighing state laws against federal ones. Even if you have the legal right to possess and use smoking herbs in your state, you are still required to follow state and federal law. Since air travel is considered a federal mode of transportation, you technically cannot legally fly anywhere with any legal smoking herbs, other than tobacco. The feds also make it illegal to cross state lines with legal smoking herbs, even if you’re traveling from one state to another in which you can possess and use it legally. Therefore, any time you take an airplane from one state to another, or from this country to another, you run the risk of breaking federal law and potentially getting arrested.

Regardless of which state you’re in, most smokers say your outcome depends entirely on which agent of Federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) you get. So, don’t leave it up to chance. Follow these tips, participate in the comments, and consult professional legal counsel to determine the best way to travel for you.

Note: In some places and situations, it’s always illegal to smoke legal smoking herbs of any form. You can’t possess or use it on public or federal mode of transportation, or in any public space, on a school bus, on school grounds, in a correctional facility, or on federal land, such as any national park. (See “The Smoker’s Guide to Road Trips” for more info about road tripping with legal smoking herbs.) You should consult a lawyer with specific legal questions or concerns you may have, before you board a plane.

Airplane RPD Header

Q: Which Smoking Products Can Fly?

Stewardess Salute

First, consider these tips when flying with smoking herbs:

  • Bring your least favorite accessory in case the TSA takes it.

  • Store anything you're unsure of in a checked bag, instead of going through security and carrying it on the plane. It’s best to avoid the hassle.

  • Because the TSA adheres to federal law, agents will not necessarily let you through security with most smoking products. Local police, however, can sometimes override them if they are present and knowledgeable.

  • If you opt to bring anything, rolling papers or pre-rolls are probably best. Pipes and vaporizers are usually fine too, as long as they’re 100% free of residue. You can buy cleaner here and then use the device for tobacco, or simply get a new one to travel with.

Q: Can I bring legal smoking herbs or accessories on an airplane?

Stewardess Arm Out

The short answer is no. The TSA advises that even if you are completely legal to possess and use smoking herbs in the state you’re departing, and even if you are heading to a state where it’s also legal, the answer is still no, because federal law governs airports and flights. 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! Because you'd technically be transporting legal herbs through other states’ airspace, it’s deemed illegal. TSA claims that it’s only focused on detecting security threats, but if it finds smoking herbs while screening you and your luggage, its official policy is to involve local law enforcement, at which point you could be subject to strict local laws.

However, there are some smoking accessories that are safe to bring on a plane. You can relax about bringing your rolling papers because there are no trace remnants and people commonly use them for tobacco. Traditional pipes are also common for tobacco smokers, so it’s also safe to bring a clean or new pipe. If you can't get a new one before traveling, clean it well, smoke tobacco in it, and then clean it out again.

Q: Can I Bring My Vaporizer on a Plane?

Stewardess Front

Again, the short, legal answer is no. Federal law prohibits the transport of prohibited materials like legal smoking herbs, even if packed in carry-on or checked luggage. In fact, pre-flight announcements now include language prohibiting the use of vaporizers while in flight. We suggest bringing a vape battery in your checked bag and buying a CBD cartridge or vape juice once you reach your destination.

To save time, many vapers opt to ditch their device to avoid legal trouble or missing a flight because they defended their rights.

Q: Is it ever OK to fly with legal smoking herbs or accessories?

In short, unless you’re traveling within a state that allows the use of the smoking herbs of your choice, it is illegal to travel by airplane to a different state with your herbs in tow. Currently, California is the only state that permits the legal transport of smoking materials and accessories within state lines but not necessarily in or out of their airports. Even other lenient states like Oregon and Washington don't have the same legislation. Many people travel by plane without incident but, as research states, it is up to the TSA agent to choose whether or not to bust you.

Q: Can I travel internationally with legal smoking herbs and accessories?

Rolling Paper Depot Road Smoker Friendly Map

As you probably guessed, the answer is mostly no. So many places in the United States and Canada are totally down with the use and possession of legal smoking herbs that it’s beginning to feel normal to those of us who live here. However, this is not the mindset of all countries! It’s best to plan on taking a tolerance break if you’re traveling internationally, especially if heading to any of these five avoid-at-all-cost destinations. Better safe than locked up abroad!

  • 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 ideas surrounding these items. Interestingly, the Japanese culture views legal smoking herbs as a deep, dark evil that a person is carrying, both physically and spiritually. If caught, don't expect any special treatment just because you are a US citizen. The Cannabis Control Law enacted in Japan states that getting caught with even one pre-roll warrants five years of hard labor in jail! Even if you get a rare, lenient jail sentence, you'll be deported from the country and never allowed to return. Hey, at least they usually let you live, which isn’t the case with all destinations!
  • 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 enjoy smoking herbs. Indonesia hands down sentences anywhere from 4 to 15 years in their prison system for just one rolled herb cigarette. Chances are, your stay in the jail will be short, but not because of leniency. Anyone lucky enough to stay alive considers themselves fortunate.
  • Singapore – This country has a worldwide reputation for punishing the possession of legal smoking herbs by the standards of its traditional, draconian culture. Punitive measures include prison time, painful public caning, and even death. Simply being in the presence of people who are smoking or in possession of smoking herbs can get you arrested—and there are no search warrants required like in the good old USA.
  • The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) – Located in the U.A.E., Dubai is a huge tourist destination for world travelers from all destinations, especially the rich and famous. However, if you must bring smoking herbs, choose another dream destination! Its strict laws punish possession of any amount of herbs with a minimum four-year prison sentence. In fact, U.A.E. courts consider it possession if you test positive for trace elements in your blood or urine. In one case, officials found a man in possession of a small trace amount of legal smoking herbs rolled in a tobacco cigarette and jailed him for four years. So, say "goodbye” to your herbs if heading to Dubai!
  • China – Known for handing down the death penalty to people charged with serious drug offenses, the Chinese government has enacted a zero-tolerance policy that yields a minimum, yet hefty jail sentence for drug offenses. Those caught with what we consider legal smoking herbs or other illicit substances receive long sentences in police-run labor camps.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of federal and international law regarding air travel with legal smoking herbs, and you know that each government defines “legal” differently. One final tip before we part ways: If you don't want to get involved with the hassle of flying with something that authorities could deem illegal, it’s safest to leave it at home. Rolling Paper Depot ships all across the country, so we recommend placing an online order prior to arriving! Give us a heads up that the shipping address on your order is your travel destination, that way, we can make the proper arrangements. Information is the key to staying safe. Sign up for our email list and stay tuned to our blog for more great tips, and updates to this article as the law's change. Safe travels!

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