An In-Depth Guide To Traveling With Weed In The United States And Abroad

Can you travel from state to state with weed? Just 10 years ago that would’ve been a stupid question. But in 2022 when marijuana is recreationally legal in 19 states and medically legal in 38 but is also still viewed as an illegal Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government (to which the TSA answers to)… really, what are the rules?

If you’re planning a trip and you’re an everyday smoker, or you just live in a great weed city and want to arrive bearing everyone’s favorite gift, you probably need to know what’s up before you board a plane or pack up the car for that road trip. Which is why we’re breaking down all the rules of traveling with weed here today.

As a primer, marijuana is currently legal in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusettes, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, as well as the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and our nation’s capital, Washington DC. That’s right, you can smoke weed while staring at the f*cking White House but it’s still completely illegal in 12 states.

One day within our lifetimes, you’ll be able to board a plane stress-free with your cannabis in tow. Unfortunately, that day is not today. While you wait, here’s everything you need to know about traveling with weed in the United States and abroad.

Can I Carry Weed Through The Airport?

If you’re traveling from a recreational/medical-legal state to a non-legal state (such as Texas), absolutely not. Don’t even try it, you’re only asking for trouble. When it comes to the legal states, things are currently a little murky.

Here is what the TSA has to say regarding medical marijuana, “Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some CBD oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by the FDA. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state, or federal authorities.”

This seems pretty cut and dry — if it can make you high, it’s not allowed. Even if you use cannabis for medical purposes. But then they have this little paragraph:

“TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to law enforcement officers.”

This seems to be a really long way of saying, “if you hide it well enough, we won’t find it and also we’re not looking.” But the icing on the cake is this last little addendum at the bottom of the page — “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.” This means if your TSA officer is down, you might get a pass or at the very least, they’ll pretend they don’t see it.

Maybe this is just the TSA’s clever way of saying, “Be nice to your TSA officer if you want to keep your weed.” Fair advice.

Here is the thing though, TSA officers aren’t law enforcement officers, so even if they do find weed and decide to do something about it, they’re not going to arrest you. Instead, they are going to alert whatever law enforcement has jurisdiction over that airport, and if you’re flying to or from a weed-legal state to another one, are the cops really going to do anything? At worst, you might get your product confiscated. This is the gamble that all stoners have to play when traveling with weed through the airport. At the end of the day, flying with marijuana is illegal because marijuana is illegal, but at the worst, if you’re traveling from weed legal state to weed legal state, or within a weed legal state (say, San Francisco to Los Angeles) you’re probably fine, especially if you know how to pack smart.

Also, it should go without saying, never travel with more than an ounce of weed on your person, under any circumstance, unless you want the TSA to view you as a drug trafficker. Drug trafficking is a very serious crime that in some cases carries a minimum penalty of up to ten years in prison, according to the DEA, and a $250,000 fine for the first offense. We can’t reiterate this point enough — marijuana is illegal in the United States of America. If you get caught flying from California to New York, you probably won’t be seen as a drug trafficker (so long as you have a somewhat reasonable amount), but keep in mind that currently there are people serving life sentences in prison for possession of marijuana, so this country isn’t exactly the most enlightened when it comes to dealing with weed.

It’s worth noting that this is all just in reference to the TSA. Each airline has its own rules and all of the major ones, from Delta to American Airlines currently prohibit marijuana on all planes, regardless of destination. Again though, the airlines aren’t looking for marijuana. Do with that what you will.

What About Flying Abroad?

No. Weed is currently legal in The Netherlands, Canada, Uruguay, South Africa, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Colombia, Spain, Belize, and the Czech Republic, and enjoys decriminalized status in a handful of other countries but right now it’s probably best not to take any chances when it comes to traveling with cannabis and dealing with customs. Again, there’s a chance of being seen as a trafficker and in this case an international one.

Our advice if want to get high overseas is to make some friends with the locals. Try new stuff!

Can You Drive With Weed In The US And Abroad?

The same rules apply for driving as they do for flying — marijuana is a designated Schedule I drug and border control is a federal entity. You probably won’t have any issues traveling within your state, or from two legal states (California to Oregon) but if you’re passing through a state where marijuana is illegal, you’re pulled over by the police and they decide to search you with probable cause (e.g. you stink like weed), you can end up in jail. Or fined. Or both.

The bottom line is this: Be smart, manage risks, and remember that the cool thing about visiting weed legal states is that WEED IS LEGAL. So you can always just buy product at your final destination. In fact, we’d argue that this is part of the fun. Do beer drinkers bring bottles with them wherever they go? No, they connect with the local scene — you can do the same!