In the United States, airports require screenings conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a government agency that abides by federal regulations to conduct security checks. Lately, several airports around the country have adjusted their policies when flying with cannabis, but the TSA’s official policy still remains:
Possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law.
But what should you expect if you’re flying with a pipe or vape?
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I interviewed pipe and vape expert, Chad Hall, owner and founder of Maine’s After Hours Smoke Shop, to gather tips on how cannabis users can fly with ease on local, national, or international flights.
Tip: Clean Your Gear
Cannabis is still illegal on the federal level. As a result, your favorite pipe or vape is considered illegal drug paraphernalia if it contains traces of cannabis. But while TSA restricts the transportation of ‘drug’ paraphernalia in accordance with federal law, the agency officially allows tobacco pipes in carry-on and check-in bags.
Due to the federal legislation around drug paraphernalia, carrying your cannabis pipe or vape through airport security can be risky, even if you’re departing from a state that has legalized cannabis possession. However, the individual TSA official who inspects your things still has the discretionary power to decide whether or not you get a green light on your gear.
One way to reduce the chance of any hiccups is to clean your vape or pipe thoroughly. Hal’s tips include emptying the oil from your cannabis oil distillate cartridge prior to traveling. He recommends cannabis-using travelers carry pipes through security checkpoints only after the use of alcohol or a specialized pipe cleaner to scrub away cannabis resin.
Tip: Place Your Cannabis Tools in Plain View
Regardless of your choice to clean your piece or not, there still remains a chance that TSA will pull you aside for traveling with a suspicious item if they see a pipe or vape in your luggage.
To reduce the chances that you’re viewed as a suspect to the crime of possessing illegal paraphernalia, store your clean piece in plain sight—doing otherwise can be regarded as “artful concealment.”
Artful concealment, in simple terms, means concealing a ‘suspicious’ object in a creative way. An example of this is hollowing out a book to conceal a gun inside. If you pull this move with your pipe, you can be accused of artful concealment and face immense penalties including expensive fines, jail time, and immigration consequences.
Tip: Keep it Discreet and Convenient
The minimum expectation most cannabis users may have when flying is staying safe, but what about keeping your cool amidst it all?
Hall asserts that, in order to fly with ease, it’s advantageous to travel with small, non-odorous, and non-breakable pieces—that way, you don’t have to worry about broken glass or strong odors in your luggage when you’re moving through airports.
For flower, Hall proposes the use of a chillum, or a one-hitter, because it’s small and therefore convenient. Another great option for durability is a silicone hand pipe.
“It’s becoming super popular to have those silicone pipes because you can squish ‘em and roll ‘em up. They’re really easy to carry and to take care of and they’re not going to break.”
As for vapes, Hall suggests that the safest way to go “would 100 percent be the distillate vapes or vapes in general for wax.” With distillates, he claims, “you’re not going to smell it at all, even if you blow it out in a vape form … a lot of people would think it’s an e-cigarette. That’s our biggest seller for people who are in jobs where [their cannabis use] is not something they want everyone knowing about.”
If you’re traveling by air, consider these suggestions for having a stress-free and enjoyable commute: clean your gear, don’t hide it from authorities, and make it convenient.