What you need to know before taking weed on a plane

As weed becomes legal in many states, the question of how travelers can bring their supplies on board is in question.

Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years of age and older, and 37 states and Washington, D.C. have medical marijuana programs. But marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

This leaves travelers hoping to fly with marijuana on US domestic flights to face an ever-changing patchwork of conflicting state and federal laws.

Traveling between states where marijuana is legal at both origin and destination may seem easy, but overlapping jurisdictions and difficult-to-enforce regulations make it difficult.

Can you fly with marijuana?

Technically no. Under federal lawPossession and sale of marijuana is illegal.

Despite President Joe Biden’s recent pardon of all those convicted of the federal offense of mere possession and his directive to review how marijuana is listed under federal law, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance.

According to Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule I substances have no established medical use and have a high potential for abuse. This also includes drugs such as heroin and LSD.

And while airports are locally owned and operated, air travel is still subject to federal law.

“Most people think it’s okay to travel with cannabis because it’s legal in California, but they don’t know about travel restrictions,” said Carla Rodriguez, a police captain at Los Angeles Airports, which governs Los Angeles. International Airport. “In addition, passengers should be aware of the legality of cannabis in other states or countries.”

She said most of the arrests are related to “passengers who take an amount in excess of what is considered personal use.”

What about medical marijuana?

Well, that changes things.

The Transportation Security Administration said that medical marijuana products that “contain no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis or are FDA approved” are allowed in both cabin baggage and checked bags.

TSA agents are unlikely to ask for a medical marijuana card unless the traveler has a large amount of money or is traveling in a jurisdiction where marijuana use is completely illegal, the agency said.

Okay, sure, but will I be searched by security?

The TSA said it is not actively searching for marijuana, but rather focuses screening procedures on “potential threats to aviation and passengers” such as weapons and explosives.

“TSA is looking for anything illegal, but they are not law enforcement,” said William Kroger, a defense attorney who has represented clients arrested for marijuana at airports.

Kroger says that if agents find marijuana in a passenger’s luggage, the TSA has no authority to arrest travelers. However, he can call the local police. Some local police officials told CNBC they would follow local laws in such a situation.

Local law enforcement may alert the DEA if the amount of marijuana exceeds personal use or if employees have reason to suspect that the traveler intends to sell marijuana.

What if the TSA finds marijuana in my possession?

Cannabis amnesty box at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Leslie Josephs | Photo by CNBC

“When the amnesty boxes are cleared and there are items in the box, the officers will make a report, take an inventory of the cannabis or cannabis products, and then they will be disposed of in the same way that drugs are disposed of,” a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department said. says in the statement.

In New York and New Jersey, airport police enforce state laws, said a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the area’s largest airports. New York and New Jersey legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2021.

According to the Denver Police Department, travelers at Denver International Airport can return their marijuana to their vehicle or give it to someone not traveling as long as it weighs less than 2 ounces. Colorado legalized recreational weed back in 2014.

They can also turn it in to the cops, where it “will be sent for destruction, not returned to them,” Jay Casillas of the Denver Police Department said. “Any amounts in excess of 2 ounces will require an investigation, during which they may be arrested and charged.”

However, the severity of the punishment largely depends on the jurisdiction, said Kroger, defense counsel. In states with stricter marijuana laws, “you could face serious jail time or jail time.,” He said.

Can I fly high?

Airline Carriage Contracts, a document that lists policy for everything from overbooked flights to lost luggage, state that intoxicated travelers cannot fly.

Under a practice similar to how a passenger attempting to board a flight barefoot is denied boarding, airlines may deny a customer boarding an aircraft if, according to Delta, rulesfor example, “the passenger’s behavior is hooligan, abusive, or violent, or the passenger appears to be drunk or under the influence of drugs.”

What about trips abroad?

Again, no. Marijuana regulations vary around the world, but it is still completely banned in many countries, and while many prison sentences for transporting weeds across foreign countries in large quantities, even smaller amounts may result in higher fines or harsher penalties.

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