While several news sources are reporting the TSA may be allowing passengers to travel with marijuana, the TSA policy towards cannabis has not changed as more states adopt some form of legalization.
“TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer,” the organization states on its website. “Whether or not marijuana is considered ‘medical marijuana’ under local law is not relevant to TSA screening because TSA is governed by federal law and federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana.”
The organization goes on to state the final decision rests with the TSA as to whether to allow any items on the plane. In addition, it has said that the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington have not changed any procedures.
“Law enforcement will determine how to proceed with the passenger who is attempting to transport marijuana – can include arrest, confiscation of the substance, request to dispose of the substance or allowing passenger to proceed,” The TSA states. “Passengers may be warned that if they are traveling into a state where marijuana remains illegal that they could face further consequences.”
Despite this, anecdotal evidence has shown the TSA has allowed some passengers to travel with cannabis.
“I hear reports from people flying from one medical use site to another or flying from one part of California to another and they generally report that if they carry their authorization, they simply show the letter and are sent on their way and are allowed to keep their medicine,” NORML Founder and attorney Keith Stroup told lawyers.com. “The same policy should apply Colorado to Washington or Washington to Colorado.
“I’m delighted to hear that because I think it shows that TSA primarily is acting as it was intended when it was established, to protect all of us when we travel on the airlines and to thwart terrorists. It is not supposed to be an anti-drug agency,” Stroup said. “What nobody feels 100 percent comfortable with is it’s a grey zone you’re going through. It’s technically still illegal even though they aren’t enforcing it very strongly.”
Stroup went on to caution passengers who choose to carry cannabis on a plane.
“It is a federal agency, marijuana does remain illegal under federal law, so if you get the wrong TSA agent and he wants to be a pain, he can arrest you,” he said. “I’m glad to see there’s a little give in the system but obviously at some point we need to remove marijuana from federal law so this is not an issue.”