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Colorado Airport Clarifies Marijuana Rules and Eases Confusion for Passengers

A passenger goes through security at the Denver airport with new clarified rules for traveling with cannabis.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty.


Colorado Airport Clarifies Marijuana Rules and Eases Confusion for Passengers

The Telluride Regional Airport Authority is attempting to walk a fine line between Colorado Law and Federal Regulation. The board voted this past March to install signs at The Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) advising passengers boarding flights that they risk prosecution if they enter federal airspace with marijuana. The signs will be placed at various locations throughout the airport.

Sales and possession of cannabis in Colorado is legal, however, airspace remains under federal jurisdiction. Previous board minutes have discussed whether to ban marijuana from airport property; the decision was tied four to four and tabled for future discussion.

“We’re respecting Colorado state law; you can legally possess marijuana, but once you leave the airport by air, you’re subject to federal law,” Jon Dwight, Board Chairman of TEX told Telluride News. “Once flights are in air, you’re in federal airspace. There’s been no direction yet by the [Federal Aviation Administration] or the Department of Transportation, so we’ll wait to see what direction they give airports in states where they’ve legalized marijuana.”

The new signs will read: “While the possession/use of marijuana is legal in Colorado, it is illegal in federal airspace under the Controlled Substance Act. If you are departing this airport by air, you will be entering federal airspace.”

Dwight hopes this will ease some of the confusion about flights within Colorado.

“A lot of people don’t equate that if you take off from Telluride and just fly to Denver [that they are breaking the law],” Dwight said. “Some think ‘I’m still OK.’ Well, they’re not, because it is still illegal in federal airspace.”

Telluride may be the first airport in Colorado to respect marijuana laws and federal regulation while still leaving the choice to the passenger. Denver International Airport began enforcing marijuana bans on airport property in the beginning on the New Year. The Colorado Springs Airport allows marijuana to be left in cars on airport property but bans any from inside the airport itself.

Conversely, although possession of cannabis remains illegal in California, many major California airports allow medical marijuana on planes with a valid California recommendation. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office enacted a law for Oakland International Airport in 2009 allowing medical patients or caregivers to board with no more than eight ounces of cannabis. Since that time several other airports in California, including Los Angeles International and San Francisco International have adopted the same policy.

Should qualified medical marijuana patients be allowed to fly with their cannabis? Tell us in the comments below!

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