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Flying High: TSA Rules for Pot Relax This Holiday Season


Industry Events

Flying High: TSA Rules for Pot Relax This Holiday Season

If you’re flying, it appears that the TSA and local police won’t bother you too much this holiday season.

This Christmas, 5.8 million Americans will fly to their holiday celebrations, according to AAA’s 2015 travel report. Many of those travelers will either fly to or from an airport in one of the 27 states with recreational or medical marijuana. In fact, the fourth most popular U.S. destination for Christmas, Orbitz reports, is Denver, Colorado — where adult-use marijuana has been available for legal purchase since January 2014. While fear of x-ray scanners, pat downs and drug-sniffing dogs may keep you from carrying your stress-relief stash or festive edibles past security, a new cannabis-friendly attitude from the TSA might make flying with weed safer this holiday season.

The TSA’s website declares that, because they fall under federal jurisdiction, local laws about marijuana are “not relevant to TSA screening.” However, a TSA media representative told Cannabis Now that passengers traveling with marijuana are “not really a security concern for the TSA,” as their “primary focus is to prevent terrorist activity.”

The TSA representative stated that security officers will simply “notify law enforcement during the security screening procedures if any officer discovers an item that may violate the law.” Once local law enforcement becomes involved, state laws that do distinguish between legal and non-legal marijuana will become relevant, and could will someone traveling with medical or recreational marijuana from punishment.

In legal states, some airports have announced policies to openly allow marijuana possession while flying. Portland International Airport announced in July that adults over 21 could fly with cannabis to other Oregon airports, and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport told USA Today that they wouldn’t bother people flying with amounts of marijuana that were complicit with Washington state law. The Denver International Airport police, however, continue to force passengers to throw out their weed, but do not issue citations.

Even in California, a state where only medical marijuana is legal, TSA officers might only ask for medical recommendations.

On Wednesday morning, an employee from Treometry, an extract-making collective based out of Sonoma, was stopped in the San Francisco International Airport for carrying a bag of kale chips that the TSA officer suspected was marijuana. The employee posted on Instagram and said the TSA officer promised there would have been no repercussions had the kale chips turned out to be medically-approved marijuana.

However, both airport security and local law enforcement won’t allow illegally large amounts of marijuana to slip by without ramifications. In 2014, the TSA found 81 pounds of vacuum-sealed marijuana in suitcases traveling out of the Oakland International Airport in California. The TSA referred the matter to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, who arrested the woman who owned the suitcase. The legal limit for California medical patients is usually 8 ounces of dried marijuana, though doctors may recommend more on a case-by-case basis.

So, as long as you stay within your legal limits in the state you are departing from, it appears that the TSA and local police won’t bother you too much this holiday season.

TELL US, where are you traveling for the holidays? Be sure to pick up a copy of Cannabis Now for the journey in airports across America.

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