A vast array of entertainment awaits the tens of millions of people who visit Las Vegas every year: casino games, sophisticated shows, sumptuous meals and more. These delights are designed to compel those visitors to part with their money, lots of it — and to do so freely and willingly.
It’s not until Vegas visitors head back to McCarran International Airport that they are deceived. Here, authorities are attempting to trick them into parting with their cannabis.
In both Colorado Springs and in Las Vegas, local authorities have decided to exempt their airports from their state’s marijuana legalization laws. Thus, it’s unlawful to possess cannabis at both airports. Authorities say they did this to comply with federal law, though it’s unclear why that’s necessary and what benefit they hope to earn. Similar moves have not been taken by airports in California and Oregon.
As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported last month, Las Vegas was the latest airport to install so-called “amnesty boxes.” In these green bins, marked “disposal for prescription and recreational drugs,” visitors are encouraged to dump their extra edibles, prerolls or ounces of top-shelf flower before their flight home.
This is a basic exercise in psychology, where the boxes are suggesting to travelers that they are doing something wrong.
Alarmed, otherwise law-abiding cannabis users might comply. However, Transit Security Administration officials are not authorized to engage in drug interdiction. All they can do if they discover cannabis is call the police, and they very rarely discover cannabis, as many have attested. Thus, the amnesty boxes mislead cannabis users to self-police.
Police often use similar tricks to fool cannabis users into self-incrimination. For example, along highways in Nebraska leading from Colorado, motorists will encounter signs that warn of a drug checkpoint. “Drug-sniffing dog in use!” the signs say. State troopers instead will be waiting by the nearest exit, looking to catch drivers that have made a traffic infraction in their quest to dispose of any cannabis.
Some cannabis companies have also conspired with authorities to discourage cannabis-accompanied travel — and to do so when travelers are at their weakest and most vulnerable: while emptying their pockets and removing their belts.
Last fall, Organa Brands, a 7-year-old marijuana company that recently relocated to Puerto Rico, bought advertising space in a novel place: the bottom of TSA bins in a Los Angeles airport. “CANNABIS IS LEGAL,” the ads blared. “Traveling with it is not. Leave it in California.”
At least one marijuana traveler saw the ads and thought they were offensive. “This is like telling people, ‘You can’t take your medicine with you,’” 59-year-old Russ Silhanek, retired due to a disability and a medical-cannabis patient for his pain, told the LA Times.
While it is illegal to fly across state borders with cannabis, it is perfectly legal to fly within a state, which the amnesty boxes often fail to mention.
To his credit, Silhanek ignored the amnesty boxes and put cannabis in his checked luggage. His final destination, he told the newspaper: Las Vegas.
TELL US, do you fly with cannabis? Have you seen any amnesty boxes?