The holidays are quickly approaching and many of us stoners are fumbling to book flights to visit our families in prohibition states. This can pose some alarm to the chronic cannabis user, and although CBD products have become widespread even in prohibition areas, it just doesn't do everything that the whole reefer tree does. While flying with cannabis has been a popular news topic in recent months, we'll find that it still isn't safe or jurisdictionally protected. We will also cover how you can at least get a nice glass pipe (or three) home for the holidays this season.
A Sticky Situation
As of January 1st, 2018, California state law has changed in accordance with the will of the voting public. Individuals of legal drinking age, 21 or older, are now permitted the right to consume Cannabis in the Sunshine State for the first time without the necessity of a doctor's prescription.
California kicked off the Medical Cannabis movement in the first place but took a surprising amount of time to catch up with the corresponding recreational counterpart—only legalizing state-wide close to ten years after Colorado burst the scene open. Seemingly on the heels of the recreational movement it isn't surprising to see a few innovations arise from this unique political environment. In October, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) became the first airport to officially announce an outward policy of non-intervention for cannabis holders flying out of state. Although there seem to be few caveats.
The website for LAX is abundantly vague on this topic even after broad interviews that saturated media coverage when the news first broke. The airport has several security enforcement groups, some federal, which the airport has no independent jurisdiction over. Namely, the TSA.
This ultimately means that despite the airport’s stance you'd still be smuggling drugs (under federal laws) past a federal officer even if you were flying from LAX to another Cannabis-legal state. The airport’s website puts it this way:
“California law allows for individuals 21 years of age or older to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana for personal consumption. With the change in state law, the policy and procedures of the Los Angeles Airport Police Division (APD) regarding marijuana were updated to reflect this change. APD officers, who are California Peace Officers, have no jurisdiction to arrest individuals if they are complying with state law. However, airport guests should be aware that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening stations are under federal jurisdiction. Also, passengers should be aware that marijuana laws vary state by state and they are encouraged to check the laws of the states in which they plan to travel.”
So basically, don't count on sympathy from the screening agents. TSA is a Federal authority and the Feds just don't like cannabis all that much, presently.
Your Hammer, Sherlock Or Spoon, However...
Glass pipes are another story altogether - at least if they're clean. If you're flying into a state that sells glass pipes, then you are allowed to have them on your person - so long as they don't contain any residue from cannabis and as long as you don't make a proclamation that you intended to smoke anything illegal out of it. Of course, if traveling, the easiest thing to do may be to just pick up a new glass piece from the local smoke shop so you don't have to worry about cleaning your current arsenal.
It always surprised me to hear of people throwing away their glass reefer pipes once they collected too much resin. That is a minor standard for traditional tobacco pipes made of wood or meerschaum or other porous materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned. Glass, though, can be cleaned so thoroughly as to appear like new and hit like the day it was purchased. Let's get into the grit of it.
We Should Probably Start with Water Pipes
Let me first just say that I don't recommend trying to fly with a water pipe, and herb vaporizers are out of the question. Although they are excusable and legitimate for consuming tobacco, bongs are obviously more popular in the cannabis community and some states differentiate between regular pipes and water pipes. The issue is complex, as states can make their own definitions on this regard. So know the law of wherever you’re flying when deciding what’s appropriate to pack. In some states even a clean bong could spell trouble.
Now, if you do need to clean a water pipe (or just anything unusually gunked-up) there are a number of commercially available products that have evolved over the years to clean your pieces safely.
How I Do It (Most of The Time)
There is an old and simple method that is very effective - as long as you're willing to put in a little bit of time and elbow grease. A high proof rubbing alcohol - 91% is the most common - is like magic for cleaning glass. If you have a little time on your hands then soaking the pipe by submerging underneath alcohol in a plastic bag or Tupperware is a great way to start. Most residue with fall off overnight, but the addition of coarse salt (kosher works well) and some agitating by shaking the bag is the quickest way to get your pipe sparkling clean. You might want to run through the process a second time with a second, separate bag and clean alcohol if you really want the residual off.