The Portland International Airport recently announced that it would allow travelers flying within the state of Oregon to transport small amounts of marijuana. This policy revision marks the first time an airport in a legal marijuana state has given passengers expressed permission to carry cannabis products aboard flights.
A report last week by Fox affiliate KPTV revealed that signs have gone up at the security gates of PIA informing high fliers that “recreational marijuana is not permitted on flights traveling outside of Oregon.” But as long as passengers are not over the legal possession limit, which in Oregon is up to an ounce, they will be permitted to board the plane with their stash.
However, with this freedom comes a bit of a hassle. Airport officials say that anyone caught in possession of marijuana by TSA could experience some delays in getting through security. Since the agency is under federal guidance, operating as an extension of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, agents have been asked to consult with the Portland Police Department to ensure passengers are not bringing along more than what is legally permitted. Then, as long as a passenger’s boarding pass indicates travel into North Bend, Redmond, Eugene, Pendleton or Medford, they will be allowed to board the plane without any further issue.
Officials says, passengers caught attempting to smuggle weed out of Oregon will be forced to dispose of their stash before completing security protocol. Fortunately, even though TSA is a federal agency, their only concern is detecting “threats to aviation security,” and weed does not fall into that category. So, while it is a federal offense to carry marijuana on a flight that crosses state lines, simply being in possession of the herb in an airport within a legal state will not bring the heat down.
In fact, a report from the Associated Press suggests that in 2014, TSA agents caught only 29 people out of the millions who travel through Denver International Airport in possession of marijuana. In every case, “police declined to issue citations, and the passengers were allowed to board planes after throwing out the weed.”
Yet, people with marijuana who begin their travels in a prohibitionary state should be extremely cautious. If pot is discovered, “TSA will refer the matter to law enforcement,” according to the agency’s brochure.
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