Can Airport Scanners Detect Weed (or Cartridges)

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Should one consider taking weed on vacation, they will first have to find out whether weed is legal in the state they are visiting and whether they will be allowed to take it past airport security and onto their flight.

In most cases, airport scanners can indeed detect weed. While the scanners may not be able to necessarily see weed for what it is, they detect it as biological matter. Scanners might also alert security to look for foreign objects on one’s person should they be trying to conceal them underneath their clothing. 

How Do Airport Scanners Detect Weed?

Although airport scanners cannot initially detect weed as “weed,” there is a slim chance that one would be able to make it past airport security carrying weed with them unnoticed. Depending on the type of airport scanner, weed is detected differently.

How Do Luggage Airport Scanners Detect Weed?

When putting one’s luggage through an airport luggage scanner, the scanner will reveal what is inside the bag to the airport security personnel. For example, weed will be identified in one’s luggage as orange on the scanner’s screen as the scanner recognizes it as biological matter.

When airport security personnel see the biological matter in one’s luggage, depending on whether they find it suspicious, they may ask them to open their bag to investigate and see whether one is allowed to have it with them. 

How Do Whole-Body Airport Scanners Detect Weed?

Whole-body scanners, also known as millimeter-wave scanners, use a type of safe electromagnetic radiation that can detect all items one has tried to conceal underneath their clothing to prevent people from attempting to travel with illegal substances.

Although the millimeter-wave scanners cannot detect weed for what it actually is, they will detect any items one tries to hide on their person, including weed. It is, however, possible that airport security may interpret weed as something else, should they not decide to investigate you personally.

Airport security personnel are highly trained, especially in identifying and spotting narcotics. Therefore, it is improbable that one will be able to get away without being investigated should they carry weed with them through a whole-body scanner.

How Do Backscatter X-Ray Scanners Detect Weed?

Backscatter x-ray scanners cannot directly detect weed. Instead, backscatter scanners use x-ray imaging technology to detect radiation from an individual who walks through the scanner. Due to the small amount of radiation used by backscatter scanners, it is safe for humans to be exposed to it.

Much like the millimeter-wave scanners found in airports, backscatter x-ray scanners will alert security personnel of any items that an individual has concealed on their person when going through the scanner. In addition, backscatter scanners identify illegal items by comparing and matching items to the typical x-ray profiles or contraband.

If one had to try and transport weed through a backscatter scanner in a small box of some kind, it would be pretty straightforward for the scanner to detect because there is nothing that might distort the weed’s visual appearance.

What Airport Scanners Can’t Detect Weed? 

A metal detector is the only type of scanner that cannot detect weed. Metal detectors cannot detect weed because they can only detect metal objects using magnetic fields. Weed is an organic substance and therefore does not give off any magnetic field interference, making it undetectable by metal scanners.

Can Airport Scanners Detect Weed Directly?

Technology in the world is evolving rapidly, which is also true regarding airport scanners. There are new experimental scanners, such as advanced CT scanners and Terahertz scanners, which may be able to detect weed directly for precisely what it is.

These new experimental scanners use advanced artificial intelligence and much higher frequencies than other scanners. This allows them to potentially detect any dangerous goods or illegal items or substances and identify them for precisely what they are.

However, this technology is still experimental, and there are still many tests to determine whether it can work effectively. Furthermore, the technology used in manufacturing them is costly and challenging to produce on a large scale, so one shouldn’t expect to see these scanners in airports yet.

What Happens If One Gets Caught Flying With Weed?

If a scanner identifies any concealed items or weed on one’s person, it will alert airport security personnel, who will perform a full body search for any hidden suspicious items. 

If the security personnel find any illegal substances, such as weed, during their search, they will be forced to confiscate the unlawful items and report the person to authorities.

Should the TSA personnel catch someone carrying weed in any form, even edibles or infused products, they are required by law to report these products. In addition, the TSA will also have to report any medicinal cannabis products that they may come across.

Can One Legally Transport Weed On A Flight?

Depending on the state one visits, there may be different weed possession, usage, and transportation laws. In some states where weed is legal, such as Los Angeles, one can carry up to 28.5 grams of weed with them legally. 

Should one attempt to transport more than the legal amount of weed they are allowed to have in their possession, they may face certain criminal charges. They could face charges on account of potentially trying to smuggle or deal drugs, as they have an illegally large quantity of weed.

If one gets caught transporting weed on a flight at an airport in a state where weed is not legal, such as in Texas, the TSA will confiscate their weed, and they will suffer penalties. These penalties can include fines, jail time, and possible future travel bans to certain places.

Can One Travel With Weed Vape Cartridges?

Although airport scanners cannot identify the liquid in one’s vape cartridges as containing THC or CBD, one must know that using products containing anything cannabis related is still federally illegal in most states.

The TSA is adamant that they are not looking for one’s personal stash of weed when performing security checks on individuals at the airport, but are obligated to report it should they come across any illegal items. This remains true for all cannabis products, including weed vape cartridges.

Should airport security be suspicious of what e-liquids an individual has in cartridges, or should they suspect it contains THC, they can perform a test on the liquid to reveal its contents.

Depending on state laws, if the cartridges contain any THC or CBD, one may be dealt with or similarly prosecuted as if they were in possession of weed.

How Do You Pack Weed Vapes On A Flight?

When attempting to fly with weed vapes and cartridges, one should ensure that one follows all the rules of transporting a regular vape. 

The regulations include not packing one’s vape in their checked-in luggage and instead traveling with it as carry-on luggage or keeping it in their pocket as it has a lithium battery which can pose a fire risk if transported as check-in luggage. 

One must also package all their e-liquids and filled cartridges in sealable bags, and the liquids must not exceed 3.04 oz for carry-on. However, more e-liquid may be taken as check-in luggage.