Last weekend, I flew to Los Angeles from Denver and decided to run a little experiment. I wanted to bring my marijuana vape pen with me but I wasn’t exactly sure how closely the TSA monitors for cannabis and paraphernalia.

So, I stuck the O-Pen and several cartridges into a leather roll-case, in my carry-on, right in the middle, tossed the duffel onto the X-ray conveyor, crossed my fingers and walked through the metal detectors.

They stopped me (because I’d forgotten to take off my belt). But the bag and the vape/concentrates made it through security no-problem. They didn’t even bat an eyelash as it passed under their x-ray — I watched them.

In fact, the ordeal was so easy, I started to wonder: had they even seen the vape pen and concentrate cartridges? Or had they and just didn’t give a shit that they were in there?

As it turns out, it was the latter. While TSA may be a lot of things — a security theater, a pain in the ass, a necessary evil — they are not the DEA. Apparently, they aren’t looking for weed.

Or, for that matter, any other personal use drugs.

TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers.” The TSA website reads, on their What to Bring page. “Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”

Sure, they’ll stop you for wearing a belt buckle or having a marble in your pocket, they’ll pull you aside and probe the cast on your broken arm, they might wand your crotch and confiscate your deodorant because it is more than 3.4 liquid ounces. But if you have weed in your carryon or checked bag, chances are, they’re just going to shrug and send you on your way.

Or, if they’re really feeling feisty, they’ll toss the bud in a garbage can and tell you to fuck off.

Which is awesome news. Particularly for those people who live in prohibitionist states like Idaho, South Carolina and Alabama, and who want to take a lil’ somethin’-somethin’ home from the Centennial State. (Just don’t get caught when you get back.)

That TSA statement throws a pretty wide net over “illegal drugs” as a whole, too. One could infer from that, that the TSA isn’t really looking for any illegal drugs. If they find some, they might turn you into law enforcement. But that’s only if they find whatever it is you’re packing.

The TSA website also details their policies on prescription drugs, which is likewise surprisingly lenient.

It is not necessary to present your medication to, or notify an officer about any medication you are traveling with unless it is in liquid form,” the page stipulates. “You can bring your medication in pill or solid form in unlimited amounts as long as it is screened.”

On top of that, TSA actually recommends that you bring your prescriptions in your carryon (in case you need them in the sky). Prescription meds do not need to be in prescription bottles, either.

Which means pills are even easier to travel with than cannabis. It doesn’t matter if you fill a bottle or baggie with Xanax bars, Vicodin, mushroom capsules, Quaaludes or ecstasy pills — chances are, they won’t be able to tell what those pills are through an x-ray screening.

And that’s not what they’re looking for anyway. TSA is not there to stop people from carrying drugs through the airport, they’re there to stop people from bringing weapons onto airplanes. There might be drug sniffing dogs and police officers, but their focus is on the real threat: terrorists.  

This isn’t to say that you can go nuts bringing drugs through the airport. I mean, you can, but you might get caught and you might get sent to prison for it. It’s just to point out that if you want to bring a personal use amount of some drug or another, you can probably get it through. Particularly if it’s just cannabis.

My weekend in Los Angeles was spent high as a kite, baked off of Colorado grass under California sunshine. Something that I never thought I’d thank the TSA for.