Don’t Miss Your Flight: What if You Get Caught Taking Pot on a Plane
man waits in airport with weed in bag

Know the Risks!

Upcoming trip? Thinking of bringing the good stuff? Afraid you might get in trouble?

Cool. We got you.

Ways You Could Get Caught

DEA Agents are in Airports. Customs Officers. Airport Police. Local Law Enforcement.

Want to know the risks? Cool. Let’s go over ‘em:


  • Missing your flight (no refund, bro)
  • Arrest

Okay, but what does “Arrest” really, really mean? Like getting locked in a cell overnight? Battling against jail time in multiple court proceedings?

Well, state by state you can get in different amounts of trouble.

For our readers in the DMV area, it’s probably smarter to fly into Maryland airports than those in Virginia. In Maryland, weed has been heavily decriminalized and the state has a strong medical program. In VA you can be arrested even if you're signed up for that state's upcoming program. So, yeah. FYI, Reagan Nat'l (DCA) is not in DC, it's in Arlington, VA.

Check out this list weed laws by state that Rolling Stone researched so that you don’t have to.

Medical License vs. No Medical License

Sorry kids.

Your medical license is cool and chill in your state, but it isn’t cool and chill to the feds. They don’t have to honor it or go along with it. So if you live in Cali and are flying somewhere else in Cali -- awesome. Flying to Virginia? Not awesome.

Possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law. Transportation Security Administrast officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products. 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 in the event that a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product is observed during security screening, Authorities will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.  -- TSA Website

International Trouble

Local laws define your fate, basically.

But some places, like the UAE, can put you in jail for up to four years for having just a small amount of pot. Japan? Five years. It’s your job to do the research and the opportunity-risk assessment.

Airport Security can do these things

  • Get the local police involved and let them make the call
  • Confiscate your stash and take it for themselves (not legal, but technically possible)
  • Put you in a small room, scare you, and ask you tons of accusatory questions

Can it get you on any kind of no-fly list? While there is no authoritative source for what exactly can put you on the list, I wouldn’t worry about a little bit of pot. In the eyes of those looking for aren’t exactly a threat.

Be Chill, Be Charming

On the TSA web pages about security screening, there is a little note at the bottom of the page. It says “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”

Just make sure your energy is good. Make the TSA agent want you to have a good day, not a bad day. Make sure they feel like you aren’t worth the headache, or that you just deserve to be on your way. They can nod you on -- so make them want to.

The Gentleman’s advice? Only bring as much as you are willing to lose.