Flying from state to state where marijuana is legal to state where marijuana is legal. You think it means it’s clear, but you’d be wrong.
This is because possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and federal agencies are responsible when you fly.
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The Transportation Security Administration is responsible for security, and the Federal Aviation Administration controls the airways. Then there is Customs and Border Protection if you are coming from abroad.
They enforce federal law, and “at the federal level, it’s still a crime to possess any amount of cannabis, even for medical purposes,” said Goodwin Law Firm partner and co-founder of Cannabis Practices. Chairman Brett Schumann said. (There is a caveat: cannabis is legal as long as it contains 0.3% he THC or less on a dry weight basis.)
Is it illegal to bring marijuana — From joints to food — Even if you’re flying between two locations where it’s legal, you’ll still pass through airport security, fly in your hand luggage or carry-on, or go through customs and immigration.
However, if the TSA finds weed in your bag, it doesn’t mean you’ll go to federal prison.
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“The TSA has made it clear that their focus is on the safety of us passengers, not drugs,” said partner of national cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, whose hemp and cannabinoid Department co-chair Shawn Hauser said.
I have spoken to the TSA several times on this topic and their policy is straightforward. “Don’t forget, TSA dogs are trained to smell explosions, not drugs.”
If TSA personnel discover marijuana or other drugs during the routine screening process, they are supposed to notify local law enforcement, who will make the final decision.
That final call may vary. If you are in a state where marijuana is legal, local law enforcement may not answer airport calls. If so, Hauser says he won’t arrest anyone who complies with state law (e.g., LAX officials say they have cannabis within the legal amount allowed by the state of California). I can’t arrest you for a reason.)
At regular check-ups, @TSA officers of @JFKairport Last week I found 30 bags of marijuana weighing about 3 pounds in my checked bag. TSA doesn’t look for drugs, but when TSA finds drugs, the police are called. The Port Authority police arrested the traveler. pic.twitter.com/DygHhycLHx
— Lisa Farbstein, TSA spokesperson (@TSA_Northeast) November 28, 2022
The TSA may confiscate the marijuana, tell you to throw it away, or “may ask you to put it in a pardon box or take it to your car,” Hauser says. of marijuana is prohibited and passengers who break the rules can be fined.
Again, “this isn’t written down anywhere, but individual TSA officials can exercise their discretion not to report you at all,” Schuman says.
If you’re carrying large amounts of weed or traveling in states like Idaho, Nebraska, or Texas where anti-marijuanaism is entrenched, you could face more serious consequences, says Schumann.
No you can’t fly high or drink
In anti-cannabis states, it is often other authorities, not the TSA, that find marijuana and charge travelers for it.
CBP has been known to find marijuana in passenger luggage, sometimes with the help of drugs that detect K-9, which can lead to fines, criminal prosecution, or loss of Global Entry membership. I have.
In some extreme cases, authorities have found travelers carrying large amounts of weed. In Arkansas last year, detectives and drug-sniffing dogs found her 180 pounds of marijuana in a lawyer’s luggage at Little Rock airport.
That same month, in Tennessee, which is “absolutely against” cannabis, drug dogs hired by the DEA and local detectives found 12 bags of marijuana in a bag at Memphis airport. The owner of the bag was detained and a search was conducted. FOX13 his Memphis reported, a warrant for his home, and subsequent criminal charges. In December, two Nashville Spirit Airlines travelers were charged with felony drug possession and held in Metro Jail after 18 pounds of marijuana was found in his luggage at the airport.
Seeing daily travelers face legal consequences for small sums despite clients being detained at airports in states where weed is illegal, followed by “simple court proceedings and quickly resolved” is “pretty rare,” says Hauser.
Schumann is of the same opinion. He doesn’t realize that “average Jane or average Joe who moves through airports with pre-rolls or packages of gummies” has spent time in prison.
But while the TSA isn’t looking for your pot, “The most important answer is this: It’s still illegal federally,” Schumann said.
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