Can I Fly With Marijuana on a Commercial Flight?

Travel is back. Americans are now back to flying across the country and to international destinations at levels not seen since before the pandemic. Most experts believe that 2023 could become a record-setting year for air travel.

The numbers back up that projection. In November 2022, the Transportation Safety Administration reported checking more travelers through security than they have since before the COVID-19 pandemic. And passenger volumes have been higher every day in 2023 than they were in 2022.

That’s great news for both the travel industry and for people who have held off travel plans for the last couple of years. However, it also raises a question for those who use cannabis: Is it OK to fly with marijuana on a commercial airplane? What if it’s medical marijuana, not recreational? What about traveling to other countries with legal cannabis?

Is It OK to Fly With Marijuana?

In short, the answer is, “No.” While the situation could change in the near future, for now cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. The government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug on par with cocaine and heroin.

That doesn’t mean people don’t try to take cannabis on planes, either out of ignorance of the law or willfully trying to get around it. If you’re thinking about joining that latter group, go in with your eyes open: it’s illegal and a huge gamble. As any attorney will tell you, getting caught with marijuana can lead to confiscation of your cannabis, a hefty fine and even jail time (especially in states or countries where cannabis is not legal).

All this applies even if you are flying from one state that has legalized weed to another state that has legalized weed. When you’re at the airport and on a commercial flight, federal law takes precedence.

If you get caught trying to fly with marijuana, come up with something more original than, “I forgot it was in my bag.” That’s the No. 1 excuse TSA hears for people trying to carry illegal items (guns, knives, ammunition, etc.) onto planes.

Can I Fly With Medical Marijuana on a Commercial Flight?

All the above applies to medical marijuana, as well. The Transportation Safety Administration that runs security at airports has a page dedicated to this issue. Here’s what they have to say:

“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 a law enforcement officer.” That’s no way to start – or end – your vacation.

TSA lists legal cannabis products as cannabis or cannabis-infused products with less than 0.3 percent THC, or a drug approved by the FDA. The former essentially refers to over-the-counter CBD products you can now buy coast to coast. The latter so far includes only one medication approved by the FDA: the epilepsy drug Epidolex.

What About Traveling to Countries with Legal Cannabis?

Canada has made cannabis legal nationwide. Germany has done the same and is working on setting up a legal, regulated cannabis marketplace. But if you fly to these countries and want to use cannabis, wait to buy it when you get there.

While the TSA has a :”we’re not looking for it, but if we find it, you’re in trouble” policy, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection takes a more aggressive posture. The agency recently reported seizing more than $7.5 million in cannabis at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, Texas.

Those caught with cannabis  may face seizure, fines, and/or arrest. This applies to U.S. citizens on their way out and foreign nationals on their way in.

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