Can You Fly With Weed From Las Vegas? (Marijuana Travel Laws)

Nov 27, 2023 | Cannabis, Las Vegas, Weed

In the vibrant city of Las Vegas, where smoking marijuana for recreational use is legal, travellers often face a perplexing scenario when it comes to air travel. Despite state laws in Nevada and many other states permitting the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana, federal regulations, as enforced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other law enforcement agencies, maintain stringent restrictions on flying with cannabis and other illegal drugs. This contrast of state freedoms and federal constraints creates a legal labyrinth for travellers, especially at the bustling Las Vegas Airport, where TSA security officers, in coordination with local and airport police, are tasked with upholding federal laws concerning controlled substances.

Federal Law

Legal Status of Marijuana Under Federal Law

  • Classification: Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, indicative of a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
  • TSA Regulations: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a federal agency overseeing airport security, adheres to these laws. This means carrying cannabis, including marijuana and certain CBD oils with more than 0.3 per cent THC on a dry weight basis, is not allowed during air travel.
  • State vs. Federal Laws: This federal classification and ensuing regulations are applied irrespective of state laws on marijuana legalization. Even travellers with a valid medical marijuana card must adhere to these federal rules when flying.

TSA’s Screening Procedures and Enforcement

  • Primary Mission: TSA’s main role is to ensure aviation security, focusing on detecting potential threats to aircraft and passengers.
  • Drug Detection and Reporting: TSA officers, though not actively seeking marijuana, are required to report the discovery of illegal drugs, including marijuana, encountered during security screenings.
  • Legal Consequences: The detection of marijuana by TSA can lead to various legal outcomes. Actions taken depend on the jurisdiction’s laws and can involve airport police.
  • Involvement of Airport Police: When marijuana is identified, airport police are often called to handle the situation according to local and federal laws.

Local Law Enforcement at Las Vegas Airport

Role of Airport Police and Local Authorities

At Harry Reid International Airport, local law enforcement, including airport police, may be involved if TSA agents discover marijuana in a passenger’s possession. Despite recreational use being legal in Nevada, carrying cannabis across state lines remains illegal, and the airport abides by federal law. Depending on the amount and circumstances, this can lead to arrest or penalties.

Las Vegas Airport Weed Rules and Amnesty Boxes

To address the issue of passengers inadvertently bringing marijuana onto airport property, McCarran International Airport has installed “amnesty boxes.” These allow travellers to dispose of their cannabis products before entering the security area, thus avoiding legal complications.

Flying with Cannabis-Related Items

Vape Pens and Cannabis Concentrates

  • Legal Status: When flying out of Las Vegas Airport, travellers with vape pens containing cannabis concentrate encounter legal restrictions. Under federal law, these are categorized as illegal substances.
  • Carry-On and Checked Luggage: General-use vape pens may be permissible in carry-on or checked bags. However, pens with cannabis concentrate fall under the category of prohibited items, in line with federal regulations on illegal drugs.
  • Federal Law and TSA Guidelines: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) mandates that any item containing cannabis, including vape pens with concentrate, is not allowed on air travel, adhering to federal law on controlled substances.

Legal Risks and Considerations

  • Consequences at the Airport: Passengers caught with marijuana, including in vape pens, may face legal action. Accounts on forums like Reddit showcase the variety of consequences faced by travellers.
  • Small Amounts Still Risky: Even small amounts of marijuana can pose a risk. This applies universally, whether flying from Las Vegas, California, or any state where cannabis is legal.
  • TSA’s Role: While TSA officers do not actively search for marijuana, their duty during security screening is to report any illegal substances, including marijuana, to airport police.
  • State Laws vs. Federal Regulations: Despite marijuana being legal in many states for recreational use, federal laws govern air travel, making it a federal crime to fly with such substances.

Marijuana Importation and Customs

U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to enforce the prohibition of marijuana importation, regardless of the legality in the originating state or destination. This means travellers cannot legally transport cannabis across state or international borders.

Federal Government

Federal Jurisdiction in Air Travel

The federal government holds jurisdiction over air travel in the U.S., which supersedes state laws on marijuana possession. This includes regulations enforced by the TSA and other federal agencies.

Legislative Efforts and Cannabis Policy

Recent legislative efforts, such as the SAFE Banking Act and the America COMPETES Act, reflect ongoing debates to reconcile state and federal cannabis policies, particularly regarding banking and commercial regulations.

State Legalization and Decriminalization Trends

Overview of State-Level Legalization

Many states, including Nevada, have legalized cannabis for recreational use, while others have decriminalized small amounts. These changes at the state level significantly impact public perception and policy discussions regarding cannabis.

Federal Implications of State Decisions

State-level legalizations and decriminalization have prompted discussions about the federal approach to cannabis, highlighting the need for clarity and potential policy shifts.

Practical Information for Travelers

Legal Risks and TSA’s Role

Travelers considering flying with marijuana from Las Vegas should be aware of the legal risks. TSA’s primary focus is aviation security, but they are obligated to report the discovery of illegal drugs, including marijuana.

Traveler Advice and Precautions

Travellers should comply with federal laws while traveling, considering alternatives or precautions to avoid legal complications when flying with cannabis products.

Compliant Travel from Las Vegas

Navigating the legal landscape of carrying cannabis products, such as vape pens, from Las Vegas Airport requires careful consideration of both state and federal laws. The TSA focused on security screening and detecting potential threats, can involve law enforcement, including airport police, if they encounter controlled substances. This can lead to significant legal issues, as possessing marijuana remains a federal crime. For travelers, understanding these complex regulations is vital, especially those with a medical marijuana card or those accustomed to the legal status of marijuana in states like Nevada or California.

To ensure compliance and avoid potential legal hurdles, seeking guidance from knowledgeable sources such as Wallflower Cannabis House’s is highly recommended. They provide valuable insights and up-to-date information on navigating cannabis laws, helping travelers make informed decisions and enjoy hassle-free journeys from Las Vegas.