Are you itching to head out on the open road, but unsure if you can bring your legal smoking herbs? Roll one up and hunker down for an info sesh. Rolling Paper Depot’s got the goods on traveling with your favorite legal smoking herbs.
Driving can be stressful enough, so you’ll definitely want to smoke after a long day of travel. Don’t let stress ruin your road trip or kill your buzz. Whether you’re going across town or across the country with your rolling kit, it’s important to know the local laws for possessing and using smoking herbs in your own vehicle, at rest stops, and via public transportation. We’ve gathered travel tips from all over the country so you’ll know how to safely travel with your favorite legal smoking herbs. We’ll also highlight key places to avoid, so you can keep calm and smoke on!
Check out The Smoker’s Guide to Travel: Air Trips article for travel tips next time you're planning a trip abroad!
Note: As always, you should consult your own legal counsel for the most up-to-date information. Local laws are subject to change, and there are far too many US localities for us to mention in this article
Laws for possessing, transporting, and using legal smoking herbs differ from state to state—and they can even differ from county to county within your state. In some states, you can travel close to home without worry, but privileges regarding legal smoking herbs are potentially restricted outside county lines. Check your state’s law for specifics. Regardless, it’s safest, to remain in your own county while driving with smoking accessories and smoking herbs. If you’ll be taking a road trip within your state, check with friends who have already made the trek and ask about their experience. Listen for tales of “speed traps” going through certain areas, or if law enforcement seemed heavy in some parts of town. Also, make sure that you ask your friends who have been pulled over, how their experience with local police officers was. If you live in a progressive state, you might not have any issues with driving with your smoking herbs, however, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Treat legal smoking herbs like you would alcohol. Don’t keep open containers in your vehicle. Keep any legal smoking herbs, tobacco, and related accessories locked in your trunk or another locked space—preferably unopened and in its original packaging, or in a smell proof container. Remember, if police or K-9s can see or smell it, they can search the vehicle. That's why it’s a good idea to never smoke in your car, even if parked. Why give law enforcement a reason to suspect a DUI/DWI?
Don't make it easy for the unsuspecting eye to find your smoking gear. Keeping your smoking kit stashed away allows you to have a peace of mind while driving. If you stop for gas and a nosey passerby looks in, or if you get pulled over by a police officer, you don't want to draw unwanted attention to yourself.
When road tripping with flower, stick to rolling papers and leave that dirty pipe or bong at home. Once a smoking device contains smoking herb residue, it becomes paraphernalia. While law enforcement doesn’t currently possess the technology to determine whether you smoked five minutes or five hours ago, possession of paraphernalia can give them enough probable cause to potentially hassle, search, and arrest you for DUI/DWI.
We also recommend bringing along a small pouch of tobacco for plausible deniability. If you have tobacco, it makes sense to also have items like rolling papers, a lighter, and even a (preferably clean) pipe. With this strategy, it’s totally believable that you possess roll-your-own tobacco equipment, not paraphernalia. As long as you’re age 18 or older, you’ll appear as a run-of-the-mill tobacco smoker, albeit someone who enjoys rolling your own tobacco cigarettes, and you won’t invite unwanted attention. So, do yourself a favor: Purchase the Raw Smoking Pouch and fill it with tobacco.
In some places and situations, like on public transportation or in any public space, it’s always illegal to smoke herbs in any form. Likewise, regardless of whether smoking herbs are legal in your state, you can’t possess or use them on a school bus, on school grounds, in a correctional facility, or on federal lands or national parks. It is also illegal to bring some types of legal smoking herbs across state lines, so if you're planning on taking legal smoking herbs on a cross-country road trip, beware, whenever you enter a new state.
It’s the best bet to steer clear of the fully illegal states altogether. Don’t mess with Texas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. In addition to the states in which smoking herbs are 100% illegal, there are a few hot spots to avoid in terms of federal prosecution. In 2000, the US Supreme Court ruled drug checkpoints and roadblocks unconstitutional. Nonetheless, checkpoints continue to pop up all over the US, especially in remote highway locations (isolated areas with few exits and small pass-through towns). They tend to occur mostly in the Midwest and in Border Country (typically known as the 100-mile zone stretching inland from any international border). Be on the lookout for bright orange signs saying things like "Drug Inspection" and "K-9 present.” Officers tend to suspect something is up if you panic and make an illegal turn, for example, when trying to evade inspection.
We strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with and avoid these top three locations when driving with legal smoking herbs: Sierra Blanca, Texas; I-8, east of Yuma, Arizona; and the Battle Mountain area on I-80 in Nevada.
While it’s best to avoid the entire state of Texas altogether, Sierra Blanca is possibly the scariest place in the US for those traveling with legal smoking herbs. Commonly referred to as the “checkpoint of no return," it has a reputation as the most notorious, strict trap for even the smallest stashes of smoking herbs and other items. Hidden in a remote part of a remote town, this backwater border town checkpoint is full of drug-sniffing dogs, famous for stopping and busting drivers traveling east on the I-10, including musicians Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Fiona Apple, and Nelly.
Even if you have a registry ID card in Arizona, we strongly recommend avoiding Interstate 8, east of Yuma at all costs! The Border Patrol in Arizona has a fierce K-9 unit, known for arresting record numbers of smokers. Luckily, many of those cases get dropped, but they can still hassle you, arrest you, and bring charges against you. In fact, this checkpoint was made famous for bringing drug charges against rapper Lil Wayne and his tour bus crew back in 2008. If you must drive through this area, stay sober, obey all traffic laws, and store your smoking materials well to remain as legal as possible. The Border Patrol in Arizona sets up what they describe as "tactical" roadblocks, legal up to 100 miles away from the Arizona-Mexico border, to arrest record numbers of US citizens carrying herbal remedies. The increased police presence includes round-the-clock drug-sniffing dogs dedicated to the apprehension of people carrying any number of herbs, even if they are of the legal variety. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
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. Many travelers report driving through and seeing signs, complete with marked and unmarked police squads of 10 or 15 cars, at checkpoint areas. Plan on an alternate route if you choose not to leave your roll-your-own tools at home.
Legal smoking herbs sound just like that - LEGAL smoking herbs. But ‘legal’ is defined differently on each part of the map. Now you have the means to make confident, informed decisions when traveling with them. If you simply remain sober, take our tips to heart, and obey all traffic laws, you won’t give law enforcement any reason to bother you. Contact us anytime if you have a product question or have a question that we didn’t answer here. Step one to staying safe is simply being informed - so stay tuned to our blog, social media, and website, to stay up to speed.