If you’re an avid cannabis user planning an international or domestic trip then you’ve definitely spent time wondering if you can you bring a bong on a plane. The answer is complex, because every country—and even airline—has different rules when it comes to what is acceptable or legal to travel with, by plane.
Airport security for domestic flights in the US is more concerned with items that could be weapons than drug paraphernalia. But that doesn’t mean you can fly with your bong under all circumstances and conditions—a clean, unused bong that has no accompanying paraphernalia tying it to drugs is usually good domestically.
But again, the specific legality of traveling with a bong on a plane varies a lot depending on where you’re flying to and from, the laws of your destination, and the policies of the airline. And know upfront: Some countries have very strict laws for even carrying drug paraphernalia, and the sentences can be harsh.
Can you bring a bong on a plane traveling domestically or internationally?
Yes, you can bring a bong on a plane for domestic U.S. travel. A spotlessly clean or unused bong, free of any drug paraphernalia, is legal because bongs are considered usable with tobacco. But before you pack up your bong for a domestic plane journey, let’s first clarify U.S. laws on cannabis and medicinal marijuana.
In recent years, the cultural landscape surrounding cannabis has shifted significantly, and a growing number of regions have legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis use. But, still in the United States, getting caught with marijuana remains a federal offense. This law applies even in states that allow medical marijuana or recreational use.
“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.”
The official TSA site also states marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products (including CBDs) are illegal under federal law except for products that contain “no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by the FDA”.
So while is permissible to to travel with a bong by air to most domestic locations, taking any form of cannabis with you, whether checked in or carried on, begs for legal trouble.
How to clean your bong for plane travel
You’re safest traveling with a brand-new, unused bong. But if you’re set on bringing the one you already own, cleaning your bong thoroughly before plane travel is crucial—not only to adhere to airline regulations but also to ensure that you’re not inadvertently transporting any illegal substances.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure your bong is travel-ready and clean:
- Disassemble Your Bong: Start by disassembling your bong, if possible. Remove any removable parts such as the bowl, stem, and any other components that can be separated.
- Rinse with Hot Water: Rinse each part of the bong with hot water to remove any loose residue. This step helps to loosen up the tougher grime and makes the cleaning process easier.
- Use Isopropyl Alcohol and Salt: Fill a resealable plastic bag with isopropyl alcohol (91% or higher is ideal) and add a generous amount of coarse salt, such as kosher or sea salt. The salt acts as an abrasive, and the alcohol dissolves the resin. Place the smaller parts of the bong, like the bowl and stem, into the bag, seal it, and shake gently. For the larger bong body, you can pour the alcohol and salt directly inside and cover the openings to shake.
- Shake and Soak: Shake the bag gently to allow the salt to scrub the surfaces of the bong parts. For the bong body, cover the openings and shake well to ensure the mixture reaches all areas inside. Let the parts soak for at least 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the level of buildup.
- Scrub if Necessary: After soaking, use a brush or pipe cleaners to scrub any stubborn areas. Be gentle to avoid scratching the glass.
- Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse every part of the bong thoroughly under hot water to remove all traces of the alcohol and salt. Ensure that there’s no residue left, as any leftover substances can cause issues during travel.
- Dry Completely: Allow all parts of the bong to air dry completely. Any moisture left can lead to mold or mildew, which you definitely want to avoid, especially when traveling.
- Reassemble and Pack Safely: Once dry, reassemble your bong if necessary. When packing it for travel, ensure it’s wrapped in bubble wrap or packed with sufficient padding to prevent any damage during transit. It’s also wise to place it in a hard-sided case for extra protection.
Remember, while cleaning your bong for travel is important, it’s equally crucial to be aware of the laws and regulations regarding the transportation of such items, both in your departure location and destination. Ensure that carrying a clean, unused bong complies with all relevant laws to avoid legal issues. Always check the airline’s policy and the local laws of your destination to ensure you’re not violating any regulations.
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Are bongs legal in the U.S.?
The United States Justice Department categorizes bongs as drug paraphernalia. In some states, it may be legal to possess and use a bong for tobacco, while in others, bongs can be considered illegal drug paraphernalia.
Be cautious when traveling by plane with a bong. A bong is federally classified as drug paraphernalia when used with marijuana.
But if bongs are drug paraphernalia, then how do smoke shops sell them legally?
There is a loophole in the “exemptions” section of the paraphernalia law. It states that items such as bongs, when used with tobacco products, are legal. It’s within your rights as a citizen to buy tobacco pipes, bongs, or papers. It isn’t illegal to have these items unless police suspect you are using them with drugs.
How to pack your bong for U.S. plane travel
If you want to bring a bong on a plane then it depends on the specific laws of the country or regions you are traveling in. We’ll cover the cannabis laws in countries with the busiest airports in the world, including Japan, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and China.
But for now, let’s focus on the United States, and whether you should pack your bong in your carry-on bag or your checked luggage..
Should I put my bong in my carry-on luggage in the US?
According to the official TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Twitter account, you can bring a bong on a plane in your carry-on luggage. The screenshot below is from someone who asked the TSA via the @AskTSA Twitter account (which answers the most common questions TSA receives from travelers) if they could carry a newly purchased and clean water bong on a plane.
So the answer is pretty clear from the TSA: As long as the bong is empty, it is allowed on planes in carry-on bags.
But, if you do intend to travel with a bong then it’s best if it’s brand new and unused as residual cannabis may be detected by TSA and could bring you unwanted troubles.
The TSA have also stated on their official website that:
“The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint”.
So while you can travel with a clean, empty (preferably unused) bong in your carry-on bag, and also while @AskTSA Twitter has also indicated as such keep in mind that the the TSA has also indicated that the TSA officer has the final say in what is permitted through a checkpoint.
If you are flying domestically in the US, then while the TSA has said it should be fine to pack a clean unused bong, use your best judgment to avoid unnecessary troubles.
Can you bring a bong on a plane in your checked luggage in the US?
TSA has indicated that it is permissible to carry a clean bong in your checked luggage when flying.
TSA regulations primarily focus on the items you can carry in your carry-on luggage or on your person during air travel. Items in your checked luggage are subject to different regulations, which are less restrictive.
So while technically it may be ‘safer’ to travel with your bong by packing it into your checked luggage, there are still some important measures you should follow if you decide to carry a bong through checked luggage in the US.
How do you travel with a bong without breaking it?
If you are traveling within the United States or domestically in another country where you have done the research and established if it is permissible to travel with a bong on the plane, you now need to known how you can pack your bong without breaking it?
- Clean Thoroughly: Ensure the bong is completely clean, removing any residue to avoid legal complications. Even if you’re packing it tightly into plastic and think it will bypass any drug-sniffing dogs, it won’t. Make sure it’s free of any residue, particularly if you used it with marijuana.
- Use Protective Materials: Wrap the bong in bubble wrap or soft clothing for cushioning. This is crucial whether placing it in checked luggage or a carry-on.
- Consider Travel Bongs: For frequent travelers, invest in a travel bong. These are designed to be durable and portable, ideal for on-the-go use.
- Invest in a Hard Case: For added protection, use a hard, padded case like a Pelican case. These cases are designed to protect fragile items from impacts during travel.
By following these steps, you can minimize the risk of breakage and ensure your bong travels safely with you.
Can you bring a bong on international flights?
Traveling internationally with a bong carries significant risks due to varying laws on drug paraphernalia. While some countries have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, others enforce strict prohibitions, potentially criminalizing the possession of items like bongs.
Penalties for carrying such items can range from fines to imprisonment, and in extreme cases, even the death penalty. Given these risks and the difficulty in confirming the legality of paraphernalia for every destination, it’s safest to avoid traveling with a bong. If uncertain about the laws of your destination, consider leaving the bong at home to avoid legal complications, opting instead to explore local laws and customs upon arrival.
Here are some other useful tips for carry-on luggage requirements in different parts of the world.
📖 Recommended Reading: If you’re looking for more useful information, check out What to Know Before Traveling With Medicinal or Recreational Cannabis
‘Flying High’ to the World’s Busiest Airports
According to the OAG (the leading global travel data provider since 1929) of the world’s 10 busiest airports, five are located in the United States.
To give an idea of the different laws regarding cannabis and associated paraphernalia across countries, below are the legalities around cannabis and bongs when traveling to five of the world’s busiest airports outside of the US.
Dubai International Airport, UAE
In the UAE, both recreational and medical marijuana are illegal, with law enforcement taking a zero-tolerance stance on drug possession or use. Penalties for drug offenses in Dubai are severe, ranging from heavy fines and lengthy prison sentences to the death penalty in cases of serious drug trafficking.
Be aware of these strict laws and avoid carrying any drug-related items through Dubai International Airport.
Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan
Japan enforces strict drug laws, where possession, use, or trafficking of cannabis carries severe penalties. The country’s airports, including Tokyo Haneda, uphold these stringent policies, prohibiting cannabis and related paraphernalia. Violations can lead to significant legal consequences, underscoring the importance of compliance with local laws when entering Japan.
London Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom
Cannabis is classified as a Class B drug in the UK, making its possession, use, and trafficking illegal. Even small amounts intended for personal use can result in warnings, fines, or more severe penalties. Given Heathrow’s status as a major global hub, refrain from carrying cannabis or paraphernalia through the airport.
Istanbul Airport, Turkey
Cannabis is illegal for personal use in Turkey, with violations potentially leading to long prison sentences. While the country permits limited medical cannabis research and pharmaceutical use, recreational possession remains strictly prohibited. If you’re heading to Turkey, leave any cannabis-related items at home to avoid legal issues.
Guangzhou Airport, China
China’s strict stance on cannabis includes severe penalties for possession, use, or trafficking, with drug smuggling offenses potentially punishable by death. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport enforces rigorous security measures against cannabis and paraphernalia, reflecting China’s zero-tolerance policy. Travelers should ensure they do not carry such items to avoid serious legal consequences.
📖 Recommended Reading: If you’re looking for more useful information, here’s how to travel with CBD oil.
Your rights when bringing a bong on a plane
If you find yourself in a situation where your bong is confiscated while traveling, it’s important to know that you have the right to challenge the seizure. You can petition against what you perceive as a misrepresentation of your item by the agents.
However, it’s crucial to understand that Border Patrol agents, especially at international entry points, are more stringent than domestic TSA agents. Their primary objective is to prevent the entry of drugs and related paraphernalia into the country, leading them to scrutinize such items more closely.
While you have the right to contest the agents’ decisions, the complexity of international drug laws means that avoiding the transportation of bongs altogether when traveling internationally is a safer course of action.
Should you pack your bong for plane travel?
Regarding the question of whether you can bring a bong on a plane, the answer is nuanced. For domestic flights within the United States, the TSA does allow travelers to bring a clean (and preferably unused) bong in checked luggage.
However, the final decision always rests with the TSA officer at the checkpoint, introducing an element of uncertainty. If you choose to travel domestically with a bong, doing so at your own risk is advisable, with careful packing to prevent breakage.
On the other hand, when it comes to international travel, the best advice is to leave your bong at home. The legal landscape regarding cannabis and paraphernalia varies significantly from one country to another, with some imposing strict penalties.
Given the heightened scrutiny by US Border officials compared to domestic TSA agents, not bringing a bong into the US is also recommended for international flights.
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Last Updated on February 5, 2024