Can Airport Drug Dogs Smell Carts? (What You Should Be Worried About)

by Kat Austin January 04, 2024 5 min read

Can Airport Drug Dogs Smell Carts? (What You Should Be Worried About) - Vida Optima™

Airport security measures continually adapt to new challenges, and with the rising popularity of cannabis carts, questions arise about their detectability by drug-sniffing dogs. 

These sleek, discreet devices, often containing concentrated THC, may seem like a low profile choice for traveling by plane. But can airport drug dogs actually detect them?

Here's what we know:

Table of Contents
Does Airport Security Look for THC?
Are THC Carts Detectable by Drug Dogs
What Happens if TSA Finds Your THC Cart?
Tips and What You Should Know

Key Takeaways

  • TSA does not necessarily search for THC products, but it’s possible that drug dogs and electronic screening may identify THC carts. 
  • Travelling with hemp THC products may pose a better choice because they are federally legal. 
  • Understanding the laws, both federal and in the states you’re traveling through, is of utmost importance. 

Does Airport Security Look for THC?

Two men sit on a bench before they go through airport security

It's common sense that cannabis is not typically allowed on planes. After all, it's still federally prohibited, and airlines are mostly governed by federal law. But does that mean that airports are specifically concerned about cannabis? Not necessarily.

TSA clarified in a statement that while cannabis products are largely prohibited on planes, they aren’t exactly looking for them:

“TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs…”

In other words, the TSA isn’t looking for your THC products or any THC Carts you may stash away in your luggage, but that doesn't mean they won't stumble upon them. 

Are THC Carts Detectable by Drug Dogs?

Drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect specific scents associated with various illicit substances. While their proficiency varies, these dogs can detect cannabis and its derivatives, including THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. However, the detection of cannabis carts poses a unique challenge due to their minimal odor.

The Challenge of Cart Detection

Cannabis carts, particularly those containing high-purity THC distillates, emit less scent compared to traditional marijuana flower. This reduced odor makes it harder for drug-detection canines to pick up the distinct smell associated with cannabis. Moreover, the packaging and concealment methods further complicate the detection process.

So, while airport drug dogs can detect THC Carts, they aren't trained specifically to do so, and they aren't guaranteed to detect a THC cart that's unopened and packed inside smell-proof packaging. 

Drug Dogs Aren’t the Only Concern

Despite their keen sense of smell, drug-sniffing dogs aren't infallible. Airports also employ advanced scanning technologies capable of detecting traces of drugs, including THC, in luggage and belongings. These tools significantly enhance the security apparatus, potentially identifying substances that dogs might miss.

However, TSA isn’t necessarily looking for personal use amounts of drugs, rather they’re looking for weapons, large drug quantities, or other items that may endanger passengers. So, that means that the consequences for traveling with cannabis may not be as severe as you think.

What Happens If TSA Finds Your THC Cart?

The legality of cannabis varies widely across regions, from fully legalized to strictly prohibited. Travelers carrying cannabis carts may unknowingly violate local laws, leading to severe legal consequences, including fines or imprisonment.

However, it’s not the TSA's job to handle small drug infractions. In most cases, they will pass over a lone vape cart, especially since it may just be mistaken for nicotine. 

If they do decide that it’s contraband, they may confiscate it, although they do have the right to involve local authorities. That means that if you’re traveling by plane with THC carts from a state where THC is legal, there are virtually no consequences for having THC carts discovered during luggage check. 

Still, understand that carrying THC on an airplane is illegal, and once you get it past luggage check, you are committing a crime, even if the risks of the cart being discovered after baggage check are significantly lower. 

Tips & What You Should Know

It's crucial to research and understand the cannabis laws in both the departure and arrival destinations before attempting to transport any cannabis-related products. Aside from what we’ve highlighted above, here are some important things to know:

  • Don’t Carry Vape Batteries: Batteries, including vape batteries, are not typically allowed on a plane and will be detected by electronic screening devices. 
  • Hemp Alternatives May Be a Better Choice: Hemp THC products, like Delta-8 or Delta-10, are often a better alternative to traditional cannabis products. While TSA hasn’t commented on Delta-8 or hemp products' direction, they are federally legal, leading to fewer complications and repercussions when flying. Read “Can You Fly With Delta-8?” to learn more. 
  • Pay Attention to Liquid Limits: Vapes may be applied to the total volume of liquids you’re allowed to carry on a plane. Even when carrying federally legal hemp products, you should make sure to stay under the liquid volume limits. 
  • Don’t Carry Vapes in Checked Bags: It’s typically better to carry most personal items in your carry on bags. 


Can you fly with edibles and gummies? 

Cannabis edibles and gummies are subject to the same rules as marijuana-derived THC vapes. They are not federally legal, and are therefore not allowed to be carried on planes, though they aren’t TSA’s primary focus. 

Are edibles and gummies less detectable?

Edibles and gummies do still have a cannabis scent that can be picked up by drug dogs, but it’s much less likely if it’s sealed in an airtight container. Plus, gummies are impossible to identify and will appear like any other candy.

Can you fly with Delta-8?

TSA has not clarified their stance on Delta-8 and other hemp products. However, hemp products are federally legal, which means they pose less of an issue when it comes to federal transport. However, travelling internationally with hemp THC may still pose an issue. 


Airport drug dogs can potentially detect cannabis carts, but the reduced odor poses a challenge. Awareness of the laws and the potential consequences of carrying such items through airports is essential for any traveler.

In conclusion, while the exact capabilities of airport drug dogs to detect cannabis carts may vary, the safest course of action remains abiding by the laws and regulations of all travel destinations to avoid unnecessary legal trouble. Choosing hemp products, which are federally legal, may be the safest choice.

Vida Optima Elev8 Delta-8-THC Collection and Cloud9 Delta-9-THC Collection are both hemp-derived options that are federally legal and available online. Choose from a variety of Delta-8 and Delta-9 edibles, vapes, and flower to find exactly the lift you're looking for. 

Vida Optima Cloud9 Delta-9-THC Gummies

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Cannabis Encyclopedia

HXC vs THC: Effects, Legality, and Benefits Explained - Vida Optima™
HXC vs THC: Effects, Legality, and Benefits Explained

by Kat Austin April 24, 2024 7 min read

HXC may fill THC's shoes better than most THC alternatives. Here's why:
Read More
What Is HHC vs Delta-8: The Differences You Shouldn't Ignore - Vida Optima™
What Is HHC vs Delta-8: The Differences You Shouldn't Ignore

by Kat Austin April 18, 2024 8 min read

Don't let hexahydrocannabinol be a mystery. Here's what you should know:
Read More
THCO vs THCP: Detailed Comparison Guide - Vida Optima™
THCO vs THCP: Detailed Comparison Guide

by Kat Austin March 28, 2024 6 min read

Slight differences between these two cannabinoids produce very unique effects.
Read More