Can You Fly With Edibles in a Checked Bag?

can you fly with edibles
By Anthony Pellegrino Updated March 8th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

Edibles have swiftly become a crowd favorite in the cannabis community. Their rising popularity owes much to their discrete nature – gone are the days of suspicious smoke clouds or pungent aromas. Edibles offer a stealthy way to enjoy the benefits of cannabis, and they've captured the hearts of both recreational users and medical patients seeking relief.

As the legal landscape surrounding cannabis continues to evolve, recreational cannabis is now waving its green flag in a growing number of states nationwide. More and more people have access to these tasty THC-infused delights, leading to the ever-pressing question: Can you really take your beloved edibles with you on a plane in your checked bag?

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What are Edibles?

In a nutshell, edibles are a delightful category of cannabis-infused products that offer a unique and tasty way to experience the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Unlike traditional methods of smoking or vaping, edibles allow you to savor the goodness of cannabis without any combustion involved.

These delectable treats come in various forms, with popular products including mouth watering brownies, cookies, candies, gummies, pills, chocolates, and even beverages (some are even vegan!).1 They offer a wide array of flavors and dosages to suit different preferences and needs, making them an accessible choice for both newbies and seasoned cannabis enthusiasts.

One significant reason behind the surging popularity of edibles is their discretion. Unlike smoking, which might draw attention or raise eyebrows, edibles allow users to enjoy cannabis without the telltale signs. This subtle approach has made them a hit among individuals seeking a more private and inconspicuous way to unwind and experience the benefits of cannabis.

Not only that, edibles have become somewhat notorious for the length and intensity of their effects. The reason for these extended effects is the way THC is metabolized differently when ingested via edibles. When you smoke, THC is absorbed by the lungs, goes straight into your bloodstream, and then to the brain, providing a near-instant effect. But eating an edible causes THC to pass through your digestive system first, which, of course, takes longer. Most importantly, however, the liver breaks down THC into a different compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which may produce more substantial effects than inhaled THC.2

So, whether you're nibbling on a scrumptious THC-infused cookie to enhance a movie night or sipping on a refreshing CBD beverage to relax after a long day, edibles offer a delightful journey into the world of cannabis consumption that many have come to adore. 

Federal Law and Flying With Edibles

All airspace over the US is federal airspace and falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. So, state laws don't apply.

Under federal law, “marijuana” is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means it's considered illegal at the federal level, regardless of whether it's for medical or recreational use. 

Despite the growing acceptance of medical cannabis in many states, the federal government still views it as a substance with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

On the other hand, hemp – often characterized by its low THC content and high CBD levels – was given a lifeline with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill removed hemp and its derivatives from the list of controlled substances, effectively making it legal under federal law. However, remember that the legal definition of hemp requires it to contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

So, how does the federal government view taking cannabis across state lines? Well, regardless of whether cannabis is legal in the states involved, it remains illegal at the federal level. Even if you're traveling between two states where both have legalized cannabis in some form, flying with cannabis - including edibles - in your checked baggage remains a violation of federal law.

The TSA and Edibles in Checked Bags

When it comes to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and its regulations surrounding edibles, it's important to remember the fact that they operate under the umbrella of the federal government. As a result, their stance on cannabis aligns with federal law.

So, what exactly are the TSA regulations regarding traveling with edibles? 

Whether you're carrying edibles in your checked bags or your carry-ons, the rules remain consistent – they strictly prohibit high-THC cannabis products on airplanes. However, they have updated their rules to allow CBD oil, legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, to fly. 

While the TSA's primary focus is on security threats related to terrorism and potential dangers on flights, they also don't turn a blind eye to prohibited substances, including cannabis. Their primary mission is not actively searching for drugs. Still, they are trained to identify and handle any illegal items they come across during the screening process.

The TSA agents must follow federal law, which means they will report the findings to the appropriate authorities. The consequences of being caught with cannabis in an airport can vary depending on the location and the amount found. Still, it's crucial to note that federal penalties can be severe, ranging from fines to potential felonies and jail time.

In the spirit of smooth travels and avoiding any unnecessary hassles, it's best to leave your beloved edibles at home when flying. Instead, explore legal cannabis options available at your destination or consider alternative consumption methods before or after your flight.

Legal Consequences of Flying With Edibles

Flying With Edibles law

Flying with cannabis, including edibles, can lead to some serious legal consequences, regardless of whether you're carrying it in your checked bags or your carry-ons. Federal law strictly prohibits cannabis, and the TSA adheres to these regulations.

If you're caught with cannabis or cannabis-infused edibles in your possession at the airport security screening, you may face potential penalties under federal law.

Even if you're traveling between states where cannabis is legal, the federal government's stance remains unchanged. Crossing state lines with cannabis, even if both states have legalized it, still violates federal law, and the potential legal repercussions are still in effect.

Now, what about individuals with a medical cannabis card? 

While possessing a medical cannabis card grants you legal access to cannabis in your home state, it does not provide immunity from federal regulations when it comes to interstate and international travel. Unfortunately, the federal ban on cannabis extends to medical cannabis users as well, and the TSA cannot permit you to fly with any cannabis products, even if it's for medicinal purposes.

As for international travel, the consequences become even more complex and severe. Traveling with cannabis internationally is an absolute no-go. Many countries have stringent drug laws, and being caught attempting to bring cannabis into another country can result in severe legal penalties, including lengthy imprisonment. 

Always thoroughly research the laws and regulations of your destination country before traveling, as ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

What Can Medical Cannabis Patients Do Instead?

For medical cannabis patients looking to travel with their medication, navigating the complex web of regulations can be daunting. However, there are alternative options that can ensure a smoother journey while still prioritizing your health needs.

One viable option for medical cannabis patients is to plan their travels to states where cannabis is legal and available for medicinal use whenever possible. Many states have implemented reciprocity laws that allow out-of-state medical cannabis patients to obtain and use medical cannabis within their borders.

Before traveling, research and identify states with such reciprocity laws and familiarize yourself with their specific requirements and limitations.

For patients who rely on CBD-infused products for medicinal purposes, federally-legal hemp-derived CBD can offer a compliant solution. As long as these products contain no more than 0.3% THC, they are permissible under federal law and can be safely carried along according to TSA guidelines. However, it's always prudent to review the specific CBD regulations of your destination state to ensure full compliance.

Traveling with medical cannabis is undoubtedly a challenging issue, and it's crucial to prioritize your safety, well-being, and compliance with the law. 

While flying with cannabis edibles in checked baggage remains prohibited, exploring alternative options such as traveling to cannabis-friendly states or using federally legal hemp-derived products can help medical cannabis patients navigate their journeys with peace of mind and without running afoul of the law. 

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  1.  Barrus DG, Capogrossi KL, Cates SC, et al. Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles. Methods Rep RTI Press. 2016;2016:10.3768/rtipress.2016.op.0035.1611. doi:10.3768/rtipress.2016.op.0035.1611
  2.  Lucas CJ, Galettis P, Schneider J. The pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2018;84(11):2477-2482. doi:10.1111/bcp.13710

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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