Will TSA catch a dab pen?

Will TSA catch a dab pen?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) permits travelers to carry electronic smoking devices, including dab pens, in carry-on bags only. However, these devices are strictly forbidden in checked luggage. TSA mandates that travelers take measures to prevent accidental activation of the device’s heating element during transport. For example, lithium-ion batteries in these devices must not exceed a watt-hour rating of 100 Wh or a lithium content of 2 grams​​​​​​.

Understanding TSA’s Stance on Vaping Products

The TSA’s primary focus is on security and the safety of passengers. While they are not specifically looking for drugs or vaping devices, their screening procedures are designed to detect potential threats to aviation security. According to TSA guidelines, electronic cigarettes and vaping devices can be carried in carry-on bags but are prohibited in checked luggage. This policy extends to dab pens, which are a type of vaping device.

It’s crucial to understand the legal context in which TSA operates. While some states in the U.S. have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use, it remains illegal under federal law. This legal discrepancy creates a complex situation for travelers carrying dab pens, especially those containing cannabis products.

The Detection Capabilities of TSA Screening

TSA employs advanced screening technologies, including X-ray machines and body scanners, which are capable of detecting a wide range of items, including electronic devices. Dab pens, due to their metallic components and distinctive shape, can be easily identified in X-ray images.

TSA agents are trained to identify potential threats. While they are not specifically searching for dab pens, if they come across an item that appears suspicious or is in violation of TSA policies, they are obligated to investigate further. This could involve additional screening, questioning, or involving law enforcement if illegal substances are suspected.

Risks of Traveling with a Dab Pen

Travelers must be aware of the legal risks involved in carrying a dab pen, especially those containing THC. Under federal law, which applies in airports and on airplanes, possession of cannabis is illegal. This means that even if you are traveling from or to a state where cannabis is legal, you are still subject to federal law while at the airport.

If a TSA agent detects a dab pen and suspects it contains illegal substances, they may refer the matter to local law enforcement. This could lead to legal consequences, including arrest and prosecution, depending on the laws of the state where the airport is located.

FAQs on Traveling with Dab Pens

01. Can K9 Units Detect Dab Pens?

K9 units are capable of detecting dab pens if they have been used recently due to the lingering scent of the concentrate. However, detection is less likely if the pen has not been used for some time​​.

02. Metal Detector Sensitivity

Modern dab pens, constructed with various metal components, are typically detectable by metal detectors. This is an important consideration for travelers as it underscores the likelihood of these devices being identified during security screenings​


While it is possible to travel with dab pens in carry-on luggage, it is crucial to understand and comply with TSA regulations, especially regarding marijuana-related products. Travelers should be prepared for security screenings and knowledgeable about the legal implications of carrying such devices. Adhering to TSA guidelines ensures a smoother travel experience and avoids potential legal issues.

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