If you’re thinking about flying with weed and what the consequences will be, or are wondering what will happen if you forget you had weed in your bag and it is discovered, this is the article for you.

What Happens if the TSA Finds Weed in Your Checked Luggage?

According to the TSA:

“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.”

In short, the TSA is not actively looking for your weed, as they are much more concerned with detecting direct threats to passengers, though they have a duty to report you if they discover weed.

As checked bags go through a number of security screening procedures, it is highly likely that if you try to hide weed in your checked luggage, it will be discovered.

Additionally, you should know that 1 out of every 10 checked bags are opened up to be physically inspected.

Even though weed is illegal on a federal level, the state you are flying into or out of can make a difference, depending on weed’s legality in the state.

In California, for example, a TSA agent may simply confiscate your weed unless there is a large amount of weed involved.

What Weed Looks Like on an Airport Scanner

Airport scanners can detect weed, though not in the way you might think so.

Based on the range of energy that passes through an airport scanner, images of your items will either come up as orange, green, or blue.

This represents organic material (orange), non-organic materials (green), or metals and hard plastics (blue/black).

As weed is organic matter, it comes up as orange.

As explosives are often partly composed of organic materials like glycerin and potassium nitrate, this means that a TSA agent may pay even closer attention to what it is in your luggage, making it more likely that your weed will be discovered.

We go into more information in our What Does Weed Look Like On An Airport Scanner article.

What Happens if Weed is Found in Your Carry on Bag?

What happens if weed is found in your carry on bag is the same as if it is found in your checked bag.

TSA agents have a duty to report you to local, state or federal authorities who will then decide what action will be taken.

No Exceptions for Medical Marijuana Cardholders

Whether you have a medical marijuana card or not makes no difference.

As airports and airplanes are under federal jurisdiction, there are no exemptions for marijuana outside of the state in which the exemption is issued.

The exception is FDA-approved medical marijuana, such as Epidiolex, which is legal to bring on a plane.

Flying Between Two States Where Weed is Legal Makes No Difference

It doesn’t matter if you fly from one state to another, where weed is legal in both states.

It is still illegal to fly with weed, even when traveling between states where weed is legal.

Best Way of Hiding Weed from Airport Scanners

The best way of hiding weed from airport scanners is to either hide a small amount of weed in body cavities or to carry edibles.

This is because airport scanners largely cannot detect items inside the human body, and edibles look just like regular food items as long as they are taken out of their packaging.

Other ways passengers have had success hiding weed is by placing small quantities inside shampoo or moisturizer bottles.

We would by no means recommend trying to fly with weed, though, given that marijuana is still illegal on a federal level.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).