Stow that vape

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

My wife and I will be flying from Sac to LA and back in the near future. We both have current med cards. My question: Where is the best place to pack our vape pen and oil cans? In carry-on or a checked bag? Should we put a copy of our card with the pen and cans? I’m assuming that since we are flying in and out of California that we shouldn’t have any problems. Are my assumptions correct?


Vapes on a plane! Sounds like a cool but corny Samuel L. Jackson movie about hipsters trying to hijack a flight to Austin. But seriously, you should have no problems. When it comes to small amounts of cannabis, the official policy of the TSA is to let local law enforcement agencies deal with it.

Since cannabis is legal in California—I am assuming that the two of you are at least 21 years of age—local law enforcement will not give you grief about a few vapor pens. California law allows you to possess up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis products. TSA regulations also state that you should carry your vaporizer in your carry-on suitcase. Have a safe flight and enjoy your time in Hollyweed.

Do you think pot can help people quit harder drugs? My buddy says he’s using it to quit cigarettes, but I’m like, “What?”

—Nick O’Teen

Your friend may have a joint, er, point. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors, people given a high CBD vapor pen to help deal with nicotine cravings smoked fewer cigarettes than the people using a placebo pen. And while one small test isn’t a scientific proof, unless he’s smoking blunts to the face every day, it could very well be that cannabis is helping your friend to quit smoking cigarettes. Surprise.

The concept of “harm reduction” is a relatively new thing for Americans (“Hillary is just as bad as Trump!”), but the idea of replacing a harmful habit with a less harmful habit is always a good idea.

For the longest time, prohibitionists painted cannabis as a “gateway” drug, meaning that cannabis was so addicting and insidious that even a casual user would eventually end up using “harder” drugs like heroin and meth. This is, of course, poppycock, and new studies have shown that sometimes cannabis can be a “pathway” drug, acting as a safer alternative to people suffering from opioid addiction.

Too much cannabis won’t kill you. Too much Fentanyl will kill you in a hurry.

States with that allow medical or adult use cannabis have seen a 25 percent reduction in opioid related overdose deaths. I think there are some programs in Boston that have had great success using medicinal cannabis (in addition to other therapies) to wean people from “harder” drugs. Perhaps the DEA could fund a study.