Is It Legal to Take Marijuana on a Plane?
As far as marijuana is concerned, its legal status is confusing for many in the United States. The issue of bringing cannabis on an airplane is a perfect case in point. It is a federally illegal substance like heroin. Consequently, one would assume that carrying it onboard an aircraft is a prohibited act.
Conversely, you may think it is okay as long as you fly from one ‘legal’ marijuana state to another. Neither supposition is accurate as shades of gray continue to cause problems. This article outlines if you can or should bring cannabis on a plane.
Marijuana & Airplanes – The Law in General
Cities own airports. However, the federal government is authorized to operate them, and federal law supersedes state law. It doesn’t matter if you buy your marijuana legally. It becomes an illegal substance from the moment you show a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent your boarding pass.
Yet even then, the issue is far from cut and dried. The TSA is tasked with keeping planes and passengers secure. They are far more concerned about finding explosive devices than marijuana.
The TSA’s screening procedures mean detecting potential threats. As a result, they are not actively looking for drugs, so you could technically sneak through without a problem. However, the likely outcome is that a TSA agent will find the cannabis and hand you over to airport security.
The Amnesty Box
When an airport security agent gets involved, there are several possible outcomes. Airports such as Aspen-Pitkin County in Colorado or McCarran in Las Vegas, Nevada, have a special ‘amnesty’ box. Passengers can place their cannabis in this box and not face any legal consequences. This is primarily because recreational use is permitted in these states.
If you’re fortunate, a police officer might wave you through with the marijuana if you have a valid MMJ card. However, this is an infrequent occurrence. You are far more likely to meet a law enforcement official who takes a dim view of your actions. While local police may not press charges, the federal government could potentially get involved.
It is a felony to transport ‘for-sale’ weed outside a state according to most states’ laws. It is also a federally illegal act. If you are caught with a large amount, you could spend several years in prison. The majority of cases that end up in court are tried on a state level. This is better news for the defendant because it increases the chances of a favorable outcome.
What About the Legal Marijuana States?
Don’t assume that taking cannabis from one recreationally legal state to another (Colorado to California, for example) is permissible. If a TSA agent finds marijuana or another illegal substance during security screening, the default policy is to contact law enforcement. Your destination and location of origin are not taken into account. The response of the TSA to cannabis at the airport is consistent across the United States.
Don’t assume that taking cannabis from one recreationally legal state to another is permissible.
Will you be arrested in an airport in a recreational state? The answer is: “It depends.” Officials are lenient in certain airports, such as John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, for example. Therefore, airport police won’t charge you with a crime if you have a state legal amount. You won’t be allowed to bring it onboard, however.
The likely response depends on the airport rather than the state. At Denver International Airport, for example, marijuana is banned anywhere on airport property. It is a very different story at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
LAX Is Lenient Regarding Marijuana Possession
Cannabis has been legal for recreational use in California since January 1, 2018. On the same day, LAX updated its marijuana policy. According to the airport’s official website, Los Angeles Airport Police Division (LAPD) officers have no jurisdiction to arrest anyone in possession of marijuana. That is, as long as you carry it following state law.
At the time of writing, passengers at LAX are allowed to travel through security with up to 8 grams of concentrated marijuana and 28.5 grams of marijuana flower. The policy also applies to several other airports under APD jurisdiction.
Traveling with weed? Here’s al…
It doesn’t mean you can go through security openly carrying cannabis. A TSA agent can stop you and contact the police as per the usual protocols. The difference is that the APD will arrive and wave you through.
Also, you can be arrested for cannabis possession when you land. Alicia Hernandez, a public information officer for the APD, spoke to Rolling Stone magazine a few years ago. She said that the APD “doesn’t concern itself with other state laws or whether travelers will be violating them upon their arrival.” Therefore, please make sure you check marijuana laws at your destination before boarding the plane.
A Risky Business
For the most part, law enforcement is not concerned about passengers carrying small amounts of cannabis. Even so, it is very much a case of ‘carry at your own risk.’ If you need it for medical purposes, make sure you have your MMJ card and don’t attract unwanted attention. Make sure there are no liquids in your bag, and there’s a chance that your edibles will go unnoticed.
It is very much a case of ‘carry at your own risk.’
It is a bad idea to try and bring oils or tinctures on board. The mere fact that they are liquid immediately draws attention. Edibles are much harder to detect, especially if you make them yourself and package them like everyday food items. Edibles also have less of a smell. In contrast, you are more likely to get caught if you try to bring cannabis flower through.
If you are caught, don’t object, complain, or get angry with the TSA agent. There is no point trying to talk your way out of the situation. Make sure you display your MMJ card if you have it. There is no real defense for interstate transportation, so stay silent, and ask for an attorney if you get arrested.
Is It Legal to Take Weed on a Plane? Final Thoughts
The issue of whether or not you can bring cannabis on a plane is straightforward if you look at a strictly legal definition. Airports are under federal purview. Marijuana is a federally illegal substance. Therefore, you can’t legally bring marijuana through airport security.
Carrying seeds in your luggage on a plane
I read a few days ago (cant find the post back unfortunately) that somebody managed to travel with 20 – 30 seeds put in his jeans pockets, spread over the whole area of his suitcase.
I will also be doing the same very soon, and will travel while spreading them in a few pockets in my checked in luggage. My question is, do you keep the original packaging or are the seeds removed from vacuum packaging before being put in the pockets?
Advice is much appreciated and also if you have any other ideas on how to carry them would be great. I am only going to have 10-15 seeds maximum.
I recently went to the Caribbean and had no trouble with seeds in my carry on/backpack. They were not in any packaging though. I use one dram vials to store them and had them all together. Easily over 50 seeds.
Coming back to California, I was gifted at least 200+ seeds all from a 30+ year veteran grower. There was NO way I was going to leave them behind. Everything passed through TSA and xray with no problem both ways. Enjoy and keep hunting!!
Could always go buy a pack of seeds from the store and trade them out. TSA don’t know what’s what and I doubt they smell as long as there’s no flowers mixed in. Or mail them.
Do not put anything in your checked bag. If the search it they will take them. I’ve never traveled with beans, I fly all over with rolled joints in my carry on though. I’ve never had a problem ever. Tsa does not care for cannabis or beans. If you’re nervous put them inside a pen. Do not walk through the scanner with anything in your pockets let alone beans. You’re more apt to be stopped if you have things in your pockets. They have no idea what cannabis seeds are to apple seeds. If you do ever get stopped which you wont. Do not advertise that the are cannabis beans. Too them they could be apple seeds. You will be a ok my friend. Just do not act special when you’re going through security and you will be fine. If they do take the beans if traveling internationally it’s because you did not declare them in customs. You have to claim agricultural items through customs and usually they do not allow anything because they are afraid that it could bring unwanted bacteria etc into the country. Best bet is to put them in a carry on, act normal and keep a zip on the lip. You will be just fine. I’ve been bringing joints with me on flights both domestic and international for years, way before it was decriminalized or legalized in any state or other country. Never once even gotten a look let alone a search. Or just mail them back. It’s very simple. Plus if it’s a gift under 25 bucks you dont uave to pay import on the package. Put them in a box with a t shirt and send that bitch off and you will be fine!
Back in the early 1980s we took 15 grams of hash from Canada over the border by car to help us enjoy our canoe/camping tripping among the Georgian and Florida alligators. My brother hid it in his mouth (seriously). We hoped he wouldn’t be forced to swallow that huge chunk. Lol
Honestly now that I’m older I’d never risk it again. The backwards USA is very strict at the border. I have a career that 3 years in an American prison would seriously interfere with. Not to mention, my wife might be a bit freaked out over it. I’ve heard stories (yeah just stories) that people have lost their cars and freedom while having a few seeds in their ashtray in their car, or a dirty hash pipe hidden under the seat. When you visit backwards, socially undeveloped countries, your best bet is to obey their rules completely when you enter and while you’re there.
Seeds aren’t illegal in the USA. If you’re flying in to the USA with seeds, you’re best off declaring them with customs. If you’re caught lying, there’s a penalty.
It is my understanding that viable cannabis seeds are NOT legal in the USA according to federal law.
I’d think declaring them at US customs would surely get them confiscated.
I have no personal experience with this, so I could be wrong.
This scheduling and definition seems to me absolutely ridiculous.
We cannot afford to let outdated and unjust laws dictate our freedoms and rights.
Lets all make sure we vote to change this any chance we get, as well as supporting our domestic seed producers and sellers here in the USA.
21 U.S.C. § 812 – U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 21. Food and Drugs § 812. Schedules of controlled substances –
Schedule I – (C)- (10) Marihuana
21 U.S.C. § 802 – U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 21. Food and Drugs § 802. Definitions
(16) The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.
In addition to hemp seed being legal, thc bearing seed for novelty, fishing, bait, animal food (non-germination) is legal.
Thanks for the link However these are the required provisions for said import. – from your link :
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the importation of all seeds for planting to ensure safe agricultural trade. Under this authority, USDA is providing an alternative way for the safe importation of hemp seeds into the United States.
Hemp seeds can be imported into the United States from Canada if accompanied by either: 1.) a phytosanitary certification from Canada’s national plant protection organization to verify the origin of the seeds and confirm that no plant pests are detected; or 2.) a Federal Seed Analysis Certificate (SAC, PPQ Form 925) for hemp seeds grown in Canada.
Hemp seeds can be imported into the United States from other countries if accompanied by:
1.)a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country’s national plant protection organization to verify the origin of the seeds and confirm that no plant pests are detected.
Hemp seed shipments may be inspected upon arrival at the first port of entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to ensure USDA regulations are met, including certification and freedom from plant pests.
Ive never received these certs ordering from Euro, UK or Canada.
Which is why you still get the green tape and seeds confiscated if CBP catches your order to the USA. And declaring it without proper paperwork at the airport customs would probably have the same results.
Have you a link to any more info from your comment? “In addition to hemp seed being legal, thc bearing seed for novelty, fishing, bait, animal food (non-germination) is legal.”
Thanks, appreciate the updated info.