With the summer travel season upon us, you might be wondering how to travel safely with cannabis products.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the best practices when traveling with cannabis. We’ll also dive into tips for navigating local laws, responsible consumption on the road, and purchasing cannabis at your destination.
If you plan to bring cannabis products with you on a trip, be sure to brush up on your destination’s local cannabis laws.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a legal expert to do this. If you’re traveling to or within the United States, the activist group NORML maintains an interactive map that allows you to explore cannabis laws on a state-by-state basis.
As of June 2023, just under half of U.S. states (as well as the District of Columbia) have legalized at least some form of recreational cannabis consumption, but that doesn’t mean you can light up anywhere. In New York City, for example, cannabis can only be smoked in areas where cigarette smoking is allowed under local law. Other localities are likely to have their own specific regulations governing cannabis consumption, especially in regard to smoking.
Outside of the U.S., cannabis legalization efforts have been making strides, especially within the Americas. Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis consumption at the national level in 2013. Canada followed suit in 2018, as did Mexico in 2021. Europe has also seen a wave of increasing acceptance for cannabis consumption. South Africa was the first country on the African continent to legalize recreational consumption, and Thailand was the first country in Asia to do the same.
While cannabis can be a fun and wellness-enhancing traveling companion, it's important to keep your wits about you while you travel and after you’ve arrived at your destination.
To that end, be sure to monitor your dosing and frequency of consumption, especially if you’re planning to, for example, take an edible before a flight. Whether you’re traveling on your own or with others, you’ll need to be able to listen to and take action on any important updates regarding your travel plans, whether that means a gate change for a flight or dealing with a mismanaged hotel booking.
Depending on the cannabis laws at your destination, you may want to consider changes to your typical consumption methods in favor of an alternative that won’t draw as much attention to you. Especially if you’re traveling to a location where cannabis is less accepted, it’ll be worth your while to prioritize discrete consumption options like tinctures or edibles, which you can use in your lodgings or while out-and-about without leaving behind tell-tale scents.
Even if you’re in a place where cannabis is accepted, remember that not everyone wants to smell cannabis smoke. This is particularly important if you’re camping or traveling with a group. Embracing discretion and consuming in moderation leads to a win for everyone involved, regardless of their feelings about cannabis.
Even if you’re flying from one state with legal recreational cannabis to another, you’ll still pass through United States airspace — this means federal laws governing cannabis technically apply.
(Want to read about traveling with medical cannabis?)
It is illegal to fly with cannabis, but the good news is that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn’t seem particularly pressed to search travelers or their bags for cannabis products.
“TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers,” the agency states on its website.
“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.”
We recommend against flying with cannabis flower, even if it’s just legal CBD-rich hemp flower, in favor of more subtle options like gummies, mints, tinctures (as long as they fit the TSA’s rules for liquids).
A final note on cannabis consumption and flying: keep your dose to the minimum necessary for your cannabis goals, whether you’re trying to sleep through your flight or just relieve flight-related stress.
While the TSA might not be on the lookout for cannabis products in your bag, being obviously under the influence of cannabis, alcohol, or another substance might cause the airline operating your flight to refuse to allow you to board the plane. You might also risk finding yourself drawing unwanted attention from concerned fellow passengers, à la Seth Rogen.
While it might be obvious to some, this section applies mostly to road trip passengers — drivers should never be under the influence of any substance, including cannabis. As we explained above, it’s also important to follow the local laws governing cannabis possession and consumption in every location you pass through.
The safest approach to traveling in a car with cannabis is to keep your cannabis products stored in a lockable, smell-proof container in the trunk of the car. Don’t travel with a large enough quantity of products that you could be accused of transporting it across state lines or otherwise intending to sell those products.
Discrete packaging — putting your homemade cannabis brownies in a generic plastic container, for example — can also help prevent unwanted eyes from throwing a wrench in your travel plans.
If you’re a passenger, be sure to ask your driver before consuming any cannabis products. Even if the driver doesn’t mind the smell of smoke or vaped cannabis oil in their vehicle, they might also want you to take the wheel for a little while. As a matter of courtesy, we recommend against consuming a dose or product that might put you under the influence for too long.
If you’re traveling to a location where cannabis consumption is legal, consider picking up fresh products after you arrive rather than trying to bring your own cannabis from home. Doing so not only reduces the headache of traveling with a controlled substance, but also gives you an excuse to sample products and strains that can only be found at your destination.
When buying cannabis products at your destination, it's important to make your purchase from a legal, licensed vendor so that you can be sure your products are safe to consume. If you’re traveling within the United States, check out Jointly’s dispensary recommendations for the following locations:
Jointly is the cannabis discovery app that makes it easy to find and shop the best cannabis and CBD products for your goals. Your matches are calculated from the real product ratings and experiences from hundreds of thousands of people using the Jointly app.
With Jointly, you can shop your top-rated products, and save lists of your favorites to share and bring to your local dispensary to help guide your shopping experience.
The Jointly app also helps you improve your cannabis experiences by uncovering what’s working and what’s not with reflections and personalized insights. In fact, the quality of your diet, how much you slept, who you’re with, and the time of day are just some of the factors that can impact your cannabis experience.
So if you're ready to find your best products and enjoy your perfect cannabis experience, download the Jointly app today on the App Store or Google Play, or shop your matches on the Jointly website. Discovery awaits.