Well, anywhere might be a bit ambitious. There are numerous countries I can think of just off the top of my head where I would NEVER bring any cannabis products. That said, when traveling domestically or to a country that’s relatively pot-friendly, I see no harm in bringing a few items along for personal use. The challenge, of course, lies in how exactly to pull this off without getting caught… but fear not, because this is something I have a bit of expertise in and I’m excited to share some new tips and products I’ve learned about recently that can help on your voyages as well!
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Traveling is a fun, exciting way to learn about different people, cultures, and customs. Even if you’re just exploring your own country of residence, there are so many things to see and discover. I personally love to travel. I haven’t been to many different countries, but I have traveled extensively throughout the United States by personal vehicle, airplane, and public transport like trains and buses.
My main grievance when it comes to wandering the earth are the frustrating limitations faced when trying to travel with cannabis products. In the land of the free, why is it so terrifying to drive though certain areas or hop on a plane with a natural, harmless, therapeutic plant? And it’s not just flowers that pose difficulties. Vape products, concentrates, and even edibles can raise problems, especially if you’re traveling by plane or through an especially restrictive state like Indiana or Texas.
To clarify, I’m not normally an advocate for blatant law-breaking, and I am in no way trying to promote the trafficking of illegal products. But I will always be an unapologetic supporter of safe and fair access to marijuana products, and when people who use cannabis regularly (especially for medicinal reasons) are so limited on where and how they can travel… that is no longer fair and tows line of discrimination against an entire group of people, a group that’s growing larger and more diverse each and every single day.
Hitting the Open Road
When it comes to traveling with cannabis products, especially raw flower, driving is generally regarded as being the easiest option. I agree with this to an extent. Yes, you can bring more stuff and you don’t need to go through any type of security screening, but there are certain caveats to consider before choosing this route.
For instance, where are you traveling from, where are you going, and what license plates does your car have? I’ll give you a quick example from my own personal experiences to provide some clarification as to why all this even matters. Years ago, in 2012, I was taking a trip across the southern states when I got hemmed up in Texas. I was pulled over for going only 1 mile over the speed limit; however, the police officer admitted that this was simply an excuse to stop me and the real reason he was initially suspicious was because I was driving a car with California license plates.
The reason, as he explained it, was that it is very common for people to transport cannabis, various illicit drugs, and even weapons from California to the Eastern US. “The product goes east, and the money goes back west,” he commented. Anyway, I was pulled over, they searched my car and found about a half ounce of weed. I was subsequently arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. I had to fly back to Texas months later for a court hearing, complete a probationary program, and pay thousands of dollars in fines… all for a small amount of personal-use pot.
Worst of all, this was not my first marijuana-related arrest in the great state of Texas. A couple years prior I was stopped at a freeway checkpoint near El Paso/Juarez, Mexico, and a police K9 detected a small personal stash in my car. After an entire day spent in a border patrol holding cell, I was eventually let off with a warning. This was the reason that I took a different route on my next trip through the south, which clearly did not work out any better for me.
If you’re traveling only through legal states, driving is golden. When you get to states like Texas, things can get a bit hazy, legally. This is why it’s so important to plan your route and take as many precautions as possible, more of which I will get into shortly.
Take to the Sky
Flying with weed can be a bit more intimidating, but it some ways, I find it less stressful than driving. When you’re on the road driving through the wrong area, you really never know what minor infraction may lead to you getting pulled over for, which could end in a search and then you’re screwed. If you’re flying, all you have to do is make it through TSA and you’re in the clear.
TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration, and it’s the agency of the United States government tasked with overseeing the safety of public transport. Put bluntly, the main purpose of the TSA is to ensure that another 9-11 never happens again; they are not police officers looking for drugs in your luggage.
According to a statement released by TSA representatives a couple years ago, “TSA officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs. Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement. This includes items that are used for medicinal purposes.”
It’s a bit conflicting. They are basically saying they don’t care if you fly with weed, and some people could misconstrue this message as meaning that it is actually allowed, which it is NOT. Even if you’re flying from legal state to legal state, and even if you’re flying over only legal states in the process, air space is considered federal territory and thus, cannabis – as a Schedule 1 narcotic – is illegal to bring on a plane.
I will say this though, it really is completely situational and some TSA agents will simply look the other way if you bring only a small amount of weed with you. Again, I have a personal story from my vault to reference. Shortly after cannabis was legalized in Colorado, I flew out there to do 420 fest and work at a nearby convention that was going on at the same time. Because of the recent legalization and the fact that it was April 20th, pot was literally everywhere. While at my hotel, a commercial came on TV talking about how you could now fly (occasionally) with cannabis out Denver International Airport and all you needed to do was contact TSA and discuss it with them. So naturally, my curiosity piqued and I did just that.
I called TSA and they told me to bring my products with me and show them to agents upon arrival. Needless to say, I was nervous but figured it was worth a try. Once I reached the airport security area, I approached the TSA agents and explained my situation. I told them that I was traveling back to my home state of California, where I had a medical cannabis card, and that I had about a quarter ounce of weed in my bag that I could show them if they needed to see it. They did not and just waved me through the line.
It was quick, easy, and not at all problematic. Unfortunately, the next time I asked to bring cannabis they told me no, so it really depends on your luck that day and who you talk to. My story is not particularly common, so if you’re trying to travel by plane with cannabis products and you’re not too keen on the possibility of throwing them away should you get denied by TSA, you’ll need to be a bit craftier.
Smell-Proof Containers and Luggage
Now, when I say craftier, what I mean is that you will need the right supplies. In today’s market you can find so many different products that can help conceal your cannabis wherever you go. Some of my personal favorites are smell-proof bags and luggage, and stash cans.
When it comes to simple, ziplock-style odor-trapping bags, there are many different brands to choose from. A few of my favorites are: Smelly Proof, Stink Sack, and Interplanetary Development. When I got arrested in Texas, the police found most of my weed EXCEPT the small amount that I had hidden in a Smelly Proof brand bag. And they did use K9s so that speaks to their effectiveness.
If you want to be extra discreet, you can put your weed products in a smell proof bag, then put the entire bag in a stash can. Stash cans are designed to look like everyday items – soda cans, household cleaners, water bottles, bug spray, etc. – but each can is fitted with a false bottom where you can hide whatever it is that you want to hide, be it weed products or valuables that you need hidden.
I have also had good experiences with smell proof luggage, which I’ll detail further in the next section. And if you don’t feel like spending money on either of the above options, or need something at the last minute, a basic vacuum sealer can at the very least help you conceal any smell. You can buy a cheap vacuum sealer and bags from Walmart for about $45 total, I have used this method before and it works.
Leaving California with Abscent Design Bags
I wanted to expand more on the smell proof luggage I mentioned earlier, and I believe it warrants its own section. During MJBizCon, I had the privilege of learning about an exciting and innovative brand: Abscent Designs. This California-based company specializes in odor-trapping luggage, and they make everything from travel pouches, to duffel bags, and even full-sized smell-proof suitcases.
On my last flight, I used The Banker, a basic, 11×6 inch pouch with dual Velcro seals and carbon packed seams. It doesn’t look like much but trust me when I tell you this small bag is amazing. Using The Banker I was able to safely bring cannabis flower and concentrate with me through the TSA checkpoint, past the K9s, and onto the plane with no problems whatsoever.
According to Ryan Wileman, CEO of Abscent Designs, “Concealing odor is our top priority, which is why every one of our bags are made with multiple layers of carbon, waterproof zippers and water resistant fabrics to ensure each one is smell proof. Every one of our bags is designed to be ultra-durable and conceal the toughest odors. Every bag goes through multiple levels of testing to make sure that odors stay inside while standing up to the roughest conditions.” Check out this video of their product testing procedures, Banker design featured.
A few tips when using Abscent Design luggage. First, make sure you don’t bring too much of the same product. Just because the entire bag is smell proof that does NOT mean you should pack it full… it does still need to go through a scanner. Plus, if you bring more than what can be considered a reasonable amount for personal use, it can look like you’re trafficking drugs. Also, make sure to wash your hands between handling your weed and handing your bag so no remnants of your pot get rubbed onto the outside of the bag. Package the cannabis products properly, then wash your hands BEFORE touching the outside of your luggage and sealing everything up. That way you won’t transfer any unwanted odors to the outside surface of the travel bag.
Travel with Cannabis – Final Thoughts
Keep in mind, simply putting a baggie of weed into your smell-proof luggage might not be enough in every scenario. You have to put a bit of thought into how you pack everything. I personally find prerolls, carts, and other small cannabis items to be very discreet and easy to travel with, for obvious reasons, but of course you’ll need to figure out exactly what method and products work best for you.
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