Portable vaporizers are allowed in carry-on baggage by the Federal Aviation Administration. (RJ Sangosti, Denver Post file)

Ask The Cannabist: Can traveler bring their vape for 4-hour Denver layover?

Welcome to our Ask The Cannabist column. Clearly you have questions about marijuana, be it a legal concern, a health curiosity, a Colorado-centric inquiry or something more far-reaching. Check out our expansive, 100-question Colorado marijuana FAQ first, and if you’re still curious, email your question to Ask The Cannabist at askthecannabist@gmail.com.

Hey, Cannabist!
I’m a Colorado marijuana tourist — I’ve intentionally changed my flight schedule on an upcoming business trip to allow a four-hour layover in Denver just so I can visit a local dispensary and smoke legal! I own a vape that I like, the Pax Ploom.  If I empty it out entirely can I bring it on the plane to Denver?  Can I get back on the plane leaving Denver with it?  I’m really not trying to sneak anything in or out, but I worry that a TSA agent with a microscope will say, “Aha!  I spot 1/1,000,000th of a gram of pot residue here — you’re under arrest!” Yes, if I had a lick of sense I would just buy a cheap-o cheap-o pipe when I arrive, but … –Vaporizing Viper

Hey, Vaporizing Viper!
Let’s cover the basics. As you likely know, it’s a federal offense to fly with marijuana. Marijuana possession also is not allowed at Denver International Airport. This is an airport rule and not a law, so if a personal amount of marijuana is found (less than one ounce), it is not an arrestable offense.

So, it is possible that if a Transportation Security Administration agent at DIA finds a personal amount of marijuana, a local police officer would be alerted. In this situation, either the marijuana is discarded before the flight or an administration citation, up to $1,000, could be written.  According to DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery: “In 2014, TSA stopped 29 people with personal amounts of marijuana. In all incidents, the person chose to dispose of the marijuana. No tickets have been issued. This is an indication of widespread compliance with the airport possession rule.”  

As for vaporizers or e-cigarettes, they are not on the TSA list of prohibited items.  Another federal agency overseeing air travel, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), has a list of hazardous materials.  According to the FAA’s “Pack Safe” page, e-cigarettes and vaporizers are allowed in carry-on luggage, with this note:

These devices are battery powered and have a heating element that vaporizes liquid (that may or may not contain nicotine). Though not specifically prohibited in checked baggage by US or international regulations, the FAA strongly recommends that these devices only be carried in the aircraft cabin (in carry-on baggage or on your person). Please also check your airline’s policy as they may place additional restrictions on these devices.

So it’s possible to carry on your Pax, as long as it has no trace of marijuana in it. Always be mindful of the marijuana and paraphernalia laws in your home state and other places you’re traveling to.

Remember, while you’re in Colorado, it’s illegal to consume marijuana in public — at recreational marijuana shops, on sidewalks, in parks, etc.

There are other options, so don’t feel compelled to travel with and fastidiously clean your favorite vaporizer.

You could rent a vaporizer during your layover. Cultivated Travel usually accommodates vaporizer rentals for overnight tourists, and also offers a short-term rental for day users. Owner Mark Prescott has negotiable package options ranging from $119-$199. If you want a simple rental package, the vaporizer alone is $99.

The deluxe accommodations include transport from DIA in a private SUV with a vaporizer to enjoy in the car as you are driven to a dispensary located close to the airport. After choosing your legal recreational marijuana products, you are driven to your nearby hotel room (room is a separate cost), where you can vape in comfort. According to Prescott, if you follow the instructions in the accompanying concierge package, you won’t have a smoking charge added to your hotel bill and the vaporizer rental is returned to Cultivated Travel when you are done. When it is time to return to the airport, depending on your travel package, either a private car or the free shuttle will take you back.  Does that sound fun? XO