You’re flying from a state the place marijuana is legal to a state the place marijuana is authorized. You assume which means you’re within the clear, however you’d be wrong. Regardless of your departure and arrival locations, it’s nonetheless unlawful to fly with marijuana.
That’s as a result of marijuana possession nonetheless remains illegal under federal law, and if you fly, federal companies are in cost.
The Transportation Safety Administration is accountable for security whereas the Federal Aviation Administration controls the airways. Then, if you happen to’re coming into the nation from overseas, there’s Customs and Border Safety.
They implement federal legal guidelines, and “on the federal degree it stays criminal to own any quantity of hashish even for medical functions,” says Brett Schuman, a accomplice at Goodwin legislation agency and co-chair of its hashish observe. (There’s a caveat: Hashish is legal if it comprises not more than 0.3 % THC on a dry weight foundation.)
So it’s unlawful to carry marijuana — from joints to edibles — by airport safety, fly with it or undergo customs and immigration with it in your checked or carry-on bag, even in case you are flying between two locations the place it’s authorized.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t imply you’re going to federal jail if TSA finds weed in your bag.
“TSA has been clear that its focus is on safety for us, the passengers, and never medicine,” says Shawn Hauser, a accomplice on the nationwide hashish legislation agency Vicente Sederberg LLP and co-chair of the agency’s hemp and cannabinoids division.
I’ve spoken to TSA a number of instances on the subject, and their policy is easy: “TSA isn’t looking for marijuana or different medicine,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein stated in an e mail. “And bear in mind, the TSA canines are skilled to detect explosive odors, not medicine.”
If TSA officers discover marijuana or different medicine throughout a routine screening course of, they’re alleged to notify native legislation enforcement, who makes the ultimate name.
That remaining name can range. If you happen to’re in a state the place marijuana is legal, native legislation enforcement isn’t doubtless to reply to airport calls in the event that they discover it. And in the event that they do, Hauser says they wouldn’t arrest somebody who’s in compliance with state legislation (for instance, authorities at LAX can’t arrest you for having some hashish if it’s throughout the authorized quantity California permits.)
Throughout routine screening, @TSA officers at @JFKairport got here throughout a checked bag crammed with 30 baggage of marijuana final week, every weighing about 3 lbs. TSA is not searching for medicine, however when TSA comes throughout them, police are notified. Port Authority Police arrested the traveler. pic.twitter.com/DygHhycLHx
— Lisa Farbstein, TSA Spokesperson (@TSA_Northeast) November 28, 2022
TSA could solely confiscate marijuana, let you know to throw it away or “they could ask you to place it in an amnesty box and even take it to your automobile,” Hauser says. Some airports prohibit marijuana possession on their property and might fine passengers caught breaking their rule.
Then once more, “this isn’t written down anyplace, however particular person TSA officers may train discretion to not report you in any respect,” Schuman says.
You may run into extra important penalties if you happen to’re carrying larger amounts of weed or touring by a state that is still staunchly anti-cannabis like Idaho, Nebraska or Texas, Schuman says.
In anti-pot states, it’s typically different authorities — not TSA — that discover marijuana and cost vacationers.
CBP has been recognized to find marijuana in passenger’s baggage, typically with the assistance of drug detecting K-9s, which may end up in fines, criminal charges or dropping your Global Entry membership.
There are additionally excessive instances of authorities discovering vacationers carrying massive quantities of weed. In Arkansas, detectives and their drug-detecting canine discovered 180 pounds of marijuana in a lawyer’s baggage on the Little Rock airport final yr.
That very same month in Tennessee — a state that’s “adamantly against” hashish — a drug canine employed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and native detectives discovered 12 baggage of marijuana in baggage on the Memphis airport, resulting in the detainment of the bag’s proprietor, a search warrant for his home, and, later, prison fees, FOX13 Memphis reported. In December, two Spirit Airways vacationers in Nashville had been booked into the Metro jail and charged with felony drug possession after a Ok-9 unit discovered 18 pounds of marijuana of their baggage on the airport.
It’s “fairly uncommon” to see on a regular basis vacationers face authorized penalties for small quantities, Hauser says, regardless of having a consumer detained at an airport in a state the place weed is prohibited, who then went by “a easy courtroom continuing that was rapidly resolved.”
Schuman consents. He’s not conscious of the “common Jane or common Joe touring by an airport with a pre-roll or bundle of gummies” who has spent any time in jail.
However although TSA isn’t searching for your pot, “the highest line reply needs to be: This stays federally unlawful,” Schuman stated,
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