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.
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.
First, consider these tips when flying with smoking herbs:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!