Those who enjoy traveling may find it challenging to part from their favorite water pipes. If you intend to get away for an extended period or move somewhere else entirely, your bong can seem like an essential item to bring with you.
But can your beloved pipes cause you more harm than good on a trip? Can you even bring a bong on a plane, and is it worth the trouble?
Getting through TSA is a tedious experience at best. However, if you’re committed to flying—there’s no avoiding it! Therefore, you must research the rules before boarding.
Let’s get to the bottom of whether you can safely and legally bring your bong on a plane.
The Issue of Weed in The U.S.
The legality of weed in the U.S. is a complicated matter. Some states have decriminalized marijuana, and it may seem like the use of cannabis is practically normalized to many residents. Yet, the states that outlaw marijuana far outnumber those that have legalized it.
Moreso, cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law and is considered a Schedule I drug—meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Regardless of your state’s stance on the issue of weed, you cannot carry it on a plane.
It’s also worth noting that drug paraphernalia is illegal as well. However, when talking about pipes or bongs, the issue of legality can get even more complex—especially when discussing air travel regulations.
Drug Paraphernalia or Tobacco Pipes?
Drug paraphernalia refers to equipment or products used to produce, conceal, or consume drugs, typically for recreational purposes. Bongs undoubtedly fit the bill when discussing paraphernalia used for drug consumption.
Yet, despite their illegal status, pipes and bongs are up for sale at many locations. You can visit an online headshop and order one in a few clicks.
So, what gives? Are bongs illegal or not?
Although you can use bongs for cannabis consumption, water pipes and other tobacco smoking tools can also be used. That is how most headshops get away with selling such products—they market them “for tobacco use only.”
So, the status of water pipes as “drug paraphernalia” depends solely on the user’s intended purpose. If used with tobacco, these are water pipes, and there’s nothing illegal about them.
If weed is legal in your state, you can use bongs for cannabis without encountering any legal issues. However, it’s different when you want to take your drug paraphernalia across state lines or outside the U.S.
Airport Security and Bongs
Because cannabis and drug paraphernalia are illegal on a federal level, any water pipes you intend to carry must be squeaky clean. Bringing a bong along can be suspicious enough, but if there is any leftover resin on the item, you’ll have difficulty avoiding legal trouble.
For this reason, purchasing an entirely new water pipe might be a good idea before your trip. You can find many suitable bongs for beginners online. Beginner bongs are usually less elaborate and more challenging to break, making them a better choice for travel than a large intricate piece (no matter how much you love how it looks!).
Even if your bong is clear of any traces of drugs, proving the intended use of a glass pipe or water pipe can be challenging. And even if you explain it all too well, airport security may still inquire about the device.
Packing your pipes in your checked-in bags is more manageable and will raise less suspicion from security. Airports allow you to carry tobacco pipes in both carry-on and checked bags.
You should still ensure your bong is clean, and if you’re using a glass pipe, you want to pack it nicely, so it doesn’t break. That is vital to show further that you’re not currently using the vape device and are storing it for later.
A TSA agent may stop you and rummage through your belongings if you’re carrying a bong in your carry-on bag.
Now, again, your water pipe is only legal so long as it’s for tobacco use. Therefore, don’t give TSA agents any reason to believe you’re carrying drug paraphernalia. If they go through your bag, remember to state that you use the product solely for tobacco consumption.
To be convincing in this, you should make sure:
- The bong is clean and has no leftover resin;
- Your gear is not suspicious—pack as you usually would and don’t try to conceal the bong;
- You’re not, under any circumstances, in possession of weed.
A bong by itself shouldn’t be a problem, but each security agent is different. They may let you through or confiscate the item at their discretion.
We recommend you look into the laws at your destination before traveling. If you’re going to a country with looser laws regarding marijuana use, you may have an easier time getting through airport security and customs with your bong.
Meanwhile, some places have much stricter laws regarding the drug than even the U.S. Be aware of how the law handles weed and weed-related offenses in your travel destination to avoid serious issues.
Bottom Line: Is a Bong Permitted on a Plane?
The answer is both positive and negative.
You can put a tobacco pipe or bong in your luggage—carry-on and checked. And yet, both TSA and CBP agents may seize the item.
That can happen even if the pipe is brand new. Sometimes, security won’t care whether you only intend it for tobacco use alone or something else entirely.
While the decision to confiscate will rest on the security agents and their judgment, you can look into ways to legally challenge the decision. That, however, isn’t a permanent fix.
Although it’s unfortunate, you must remain aware that a bong can cause difficulty traveling by plane. Depending on your destination, you may even end up without it, so checking the laws is necessary.