Can Airport Scanners Detect Edibles?

credit: Elsa Olofsson

It is common for people to bring a souvenir from their travels, and in some states, marijuana is legal and might be the choice of souvenir. Marijuana in its natural form would be evident to scanners; therefore, the next best thing would be edibles, but can airport scanners detect edibles?

If a carry-on scanner or a backscatter body scanner gets used, the edible will appear orange indicating organic material, which can seem suspect depending on how it gets disguised. Typical body scanners use millimeter wave technology, which doesn’t penetrate the skin, so an edible won’t be detected if it is within the body.

Related: Can You Bring Edibles On A Plane?

How Do Airport Scanners Detect Edibles?

Carry-on luggage scanners show substances as colors on the screen depending on their makeup. Organic matter appears orange; therefore, edibles will show. Backscatter full-body scanners detect anything internally or externally, so edibles would display and raise suspicion, while millimeter scanners show items externally by highlighting suspicious areas on the body.

Can You Hide Edibles From Airport Scanners?

If someone carries edibles in person, it will alert more attention than if it was hidden in carry-on luggage or checked luggage. The TSA doesn’t focus on drug detection, so edibles that appear as regular food on luggage scans will not raise doubt if the food type is not prohibited.

What Type Of Airport Scanners Detect Edibles?

A few types of airport scanners get utilized to screen travelers. A person will always go through a metal detector and have their carry-on and checked luggage scanned by a cabinet X-ray scanner. Sometimes full scans get conducted by millimeter wave or backscatter scanners, physical searches, or trained sniffer dogs.

What Do Edibles Look Like To An Airport Scanner?

Edibles appear as regular food on cabinet X-ray scanners, but if the food is suspect or prohibited, the smell reveals an edible if it gets examined. Metal detectors will only detect metals. Millimeter wave scanners reflect any concealed objects above the skin as colors, while backscatter scanners outline anything hidden.

Can Airport Scanners Transmit Radiation Onto Edibles?

Scanners that use X-ray technology require radiation to reflect objects, and the FDA confirmed that there are no known harmful effects from food or things that have gone through scans. The radiation output in any scan is minimal, especially compared to the background radiation humans experience naturally from the sun.

What Happens If You Get Caught At The Airport With Edibles?

Airport security is required to notify law enforcement if they find anything illegal. Law enforcement could potentially do nothing or press charges for breaking the law. People with large amounts or traveling internationally with marijuana end up in the most trouble, but severe prosecutions are less likely for small quantities.

What Can You Do If You Get Caught With Edibles?

A person might bring edibles to the airport by accident, so they should throw them away before being caught. If caught, a course of action is to get rid of edible to void the evidence, but if that is not possible, the best step is to comply with airport security.  

Why Is It Illegal To Fly With Edibles?

US airspace is considered a federal domain; therefore, federal law governs what may and may not get transported. Transporting marijuana on a flight is prohibited on a national level, as outlined by the Controlled Substances Act. This law still stands for flights between states where marijuana is legal to use.

Are You Allowed To Have Edibles If You Have A Medical Prescription?

Medical marijuana cards are only valid sometimes. The TSA doesn’t have the power or ability to authenticate the card and might notify federal authorities to examine the case. The state you’re in is also essential, as a card would be meaningless if medicinal marijuana is illegal in the visited state.

What Happens With Confiscated Edibles?

The US government has stringent rules for the disposal of seized items obtained by the TSA, which includes edibles, as they’re illegal. Confiscated edibles could be handed over to state agencies for them to handle the outcome, or the TSA would act by disposing of the edibles by destroying them.

Is Transporting Edibles Worth The Risk?

States that permit marijuana usage seem less strict, but transporting drugs is still illegal. Someone can try their luck, considering they can pass through undetected, and drug searches are not a priority. The odds can be in their favor, but the risk is paying for a penalty and jail time.

Does The TSA Look For Edibles?

TSA screening procedures mainly aim to find things in luggage or on a person that would cause danger to flight safety, such as weapons like guns and knives. Drugs, which include edibles, are not being searched for but, if found, may cause a person to get into legal trouble.

Which States Allow Edibles?

As mentioned, flying with edibles is entirely illegal in all states. Still, besides flying, recreational marijuana usage is allowed within the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington DC.

Can Airport Security Arrest You For Edibles?

Airport security officers are not the federal police, so they can’t arrest anyone because they don’t have the jurisdiction to do so. The law still requires airport security to notify the police, who will charge or prosecute you if you do anything illegal, which includes transporting edibles over state lines.

What Type Of Edibles Get Through Security?

Edibles get made in many forms and food types, and the more normal they appear, there is a decent possibility of going unnoticed by airport scanners and security. Food items that get wrapped in regular airtight food packaging will disguise edibles. Some options include gummy sweets, candy bars, and Tootsie Rolls.

Are You Allowed To Travel With Edibles In Canada?

Even though marijuana is legal in Canada, it is illegal to transport marijuana and its products, including edibles, extracts, and topicals, over Canadian borders, regardless of the quantity. CBD (Cannabidiol) is also prohibited. It remains illegal to fly with CBD and marijuana, no matter the legality of your flight origin.

Are You Allowed To Travel With Edibles In Europe?

The European countries all have laws regulating marijuana usage and transport; some permit the use of edibles and other marijuana products, while others don’t. When traveling over European borders, the best decision is not to carry any marijuana, as it could lead a person into legal trouble.

Are You Allowed To Travel With Edibles In the UK?

Edibles and marijuana are illegal in all parts of the UK. A person will need to pass through customs, and UK airport security can, but might not, arrest them for a small quantity of marijuana or edibles. Still, they would likely confiscate the edibles and potentially issue a £90 fine.

Are You Allowed To Travel With Edibles In Australia?

Medicinal marijuana is legal in all Australian states, but for medical purposes only. People may travel with marijuana anywhere if they have a prescription outlining the form of marijuana they are permitted to consume as outlined by the Australian Commonwealth Narcotics Act, so edibles require a prescription.