So, you’ve gone and done it: You’ve purchased the marijuana. Perhaps you’ve taken advantage of America’s ever-growing recreational landscape and toked up on the slopes of Aspen, or the neon-lit boulevards of Las Vegas. Or maybe you’ve surreptitiously obtained a little extra from your bearded New York City delivery guy à la High Maintenance.
No matter the circumstance or reason for it, we’ve all (well, all of us stoners) been there before: You want to get that weed from Point A to Point Boy-I-Can’t-Buy-This-As-Easily-Where-I’m-Going. What follows is a handy guide of how to transport your pot without getting caught.
Atlanta: The Ultimate Local's Guide
The TSA does not look for pot
How much weed should I fly with?
OK, you’ve got your big boy pants all pulled up and have decided it’s game on. This first bit of advice is simple: Don’t fly with much. It’s a federal crime and all that jazz. For old-school nugs (aka flower), one-eighth is the max you’re gonna want to give this experiment; follow that same logic with edibles, et al. Think logically, here. If you have a backpack full of weed, TSA is gonna spot it and, at the very least, make you throw it out. And that would suck: A backpack full of weed is expensive.
Where should I hide my weed when I fly?
Don’t check it. One reason is that the TSA conducts random searches on checked luggage all the frickin’ time. Do you really want to spend your whole flight freaking out that those guys in sunglasses from The Matrix are gonna be waiting for you when you get off the plane? On the other hand, so long as you’re not a dipshit, they are extremely unlikely to open up your carry-on.
You don’t want to go overboard on the stash, here. Skew closer to “in plain sight” than “in a jar of peanut butter” or “bottle of shampoo.” Just think: What is TSA looking for? Bombs, primarily. Next up on the list: liquid bombs. Shy away from attracting security to any sort of liquid. (For this reason, if you’re packing vape cartridges, make sure you have less than 3 ounces.) The reality of the situation is that you’ll have an easier time walking through with an eighth in your pocket than stuffed into Merkts cheese spread.
Keep it simple and logical. If you have a couple extra joints, put them in a cigarette pack and then put that cigarette pack wherever you would normally put it. For buds, one Thrillist writer has found this trick to be the way to go: Empty any opaque bottle of over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen. Put weed in it. Put cotton balls on top of weed. Put pills on top of cotton balls until it’s filled to the brim. If you’ve got TSA Precheck, you can put a baggie in your shoe. Up your ass is probably a bit overboard. Edibles are the easiest, by far. Gummies go into an empty bag of Haribo gummy bears. Shatter and wax go into one of those weird honey candy bags. And so on and so forth. Alike packaging will keep the security guard moving as he/she searches for something else your dumb ass forgot to take out. And that brings us to a very important point: Make sure everything else in your bag complies. The TSA looks for liquids, C-4, and crossbows. The TSA does not look for pot. If they are searching your bag, chances are you left something else in there you shouldn’t have.
There's a good chance nothing will happen to you
How to sneak weed through airport security
You’re finally in line. Don’t trip. TSA officers are trained to sniff out tweaking passengers because of that whole bombs and weapons deal. And here’s the kicker: Even if you do get caught, there’s a really good chance nothing will happen to you. Carrie Harmon, a regional TSA spokesperson, points Thrillist to the following statement: “TSA’s focus is on terrorism and security threats to the aircraft and its passengers. TSA’s screening procedures, which are governed by federal law, are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. As has always been the case, if during the security screening procedures an officer discovers an item that may violate the law, TSA refers the matter to law enforcement. Law enforcement officials determine whether to initiate a criminal investigation.” Go here if you want to print out a “TSA security officers do not search for marijuana” sign that you can snuggle in your arms the night before your flight.
That means that if you’re trying to get some pot out of Portland and a TSA officer finds it, you’d be referred to a Portland cop who would make you throw it out while probably making a Phish joke. Then, you’d be free to go. If you’re leaving a state where marijuana possession is still a criminal offense, we aren’t really sure why you’re trying to fly it out of there. But, still, chances are that the TSA personnel in Waco is far less accustomed to spotting weed than, say, the folks in Denver.
Speaking of, Thrillist reached Heath Montgomery, the senior public information officer at Denver International Airport, for his two cents on dimebag traffic. “Generally, the airport has a policy that prohibits the possession, consumption, etc. of any marijuana products on airport property,” Montgomery says. “When a person is found to have marijuana on them (an amount legal under Colorado law) at the TSA checkpoints, a Denver Police officer typically explains the airport’s rules and asks the passenger to dispose of the marijuana. To date,” he continues, “every single person who has been contacted about this has voluntarily complied with our request and either taken it home or thrown it away. In all of 2015, the number of people contacted at the TSA checkpoints about marijuana possession was only 29. That was out of 54 million passengers. The numbers have been so small that the police no longer track these contacts.”
He goes on: “Basically, people seem to be well informed that it is illegal under federal law to fly with marijuana, and that the airport prohibits the possession of any amount of marijuana, and the vast majority of travelers are simply not bringing it to the airport.” Do what you will with that information.
Can airport scanners see weed?
Sorta. It’s kind of a blur. Again, the TSA is looking for bottles of water and knife-wielding ferrets. A little herb tucked away in a pill bottle isn’t going to set off any alarms, but may be found during a thorough search. So, don’t pack a vape pen that looks like a grenade.
What do I do after security?
Blaze up! No, don’t do that. You can put the weed in a more comfortable place but, basically, you’re in the clear. Just remember that when you land, chances are you’re touching down in less friendly territory than where you just were. Be careful transporting your “souvenirs” from the airport to your destination. Turn that whole “driving is safer than flying” narrative on its head: You have a better chance of being busted by local cops than airport security.
Can I drive with weed?
So you’ve seen Midnight Express one too many times and you think flying with drugs is a bad idea. OK, we get it. What are your other options? You could walk or bike with your weed, but that seems pretty hard. The least desirable option you have is driving, bar none. Different states sport different draconian penalties and there’s been plenty of evidence that the fuzz from non-legal states has been targeting cars with plates from those with headier laws. If you must drive, don’t bring flower. Pot stinks. Pack some gummies or a vape pen in the bottom of a bag and hit the road, but stay right at the speed limit.
Editors’ disclaimer: When weighing the positives of getting on an airplane with pot, please weigh also the major negative. Namely, that federal law prohibits it. So obviously we can’t condone it... but we did put a lot of work into this highly realistic thought exercise. The risks you take from here on in are yours.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.