The growth of cannabis and changing laws around cannabis and hemp products sometimes become too much to keep up with. This is evident especially around cannabis laws that involve consumers traveling from one state to another. This article will address all that you need to know about flying with cannabis in the US.
When it comes to the cannabis laws in the US, we need to know that despite the fact some states have legal markets for cannabis, it is still considered illegal federally. This classification of cannabis by the federal government also applies to airports as well. Irrespective of where the airport is situated, they still fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government along with airport lands. This makes flying with cannabis very complicated and poses a very big problem.
On Airport grounds
The Transport Security Administration (TSA) is in charge of security in airports and their policy around cannabis and cannabis products is well-known. Their agents are not on the lookout for weed however finding it might prove an issue. This statement was made by the body on May 4 2019 and it applies to all cannabis products such as buds, flowers, capsules, edibles, and so on. The repercussion of finding cannabis products on travelers then depends on the state and airport where it occurs.
The TSA has stated that the expected action from them after discovering a cannabis product on a traveler is to refer to a law enforcement officer. They do not factor in the cannabis laws in the state where the traveler is arrested or the destination. They respond the same way be it in a legal or illegal cannabis state. The result of the process with the law enforcement officer then depends on the amount found and the offender. For a state with legal recreational laws for adults, an adult with weed within the acceptable limit can be let off with a fine. Some can even be allowed to go free and will just be allowed to dispose of the weed. States without legal cannabis laws however might impose full felony drug charges on such persons.
The screening done by the TSA is to identify potential security threats. Their approach to cannabis products is the same as that of the federal government. They will allow FDA-approved medicines such as Epidiolex. They also allow CBD products with less than 0.3% of THC and anything above 0.3% THC is regarded illegal. They do not allow cannabis-infused products even those used for medicinal purposes.
On the Airplanes
The same stance that applies on airplane grounds applies to planes themselves. Aircraft and airlines are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which operates in line with federal laws. Marijuana products with more than 0.3% THC are regarded on airplanes. The administration still conducts THC and CBD tests on its pilots as they do not approve of products not approved by the FDA. If any member of the flight crew sees a traveler with weed, such traveler is subject to criminal penalty under federal law.
State Airport peculiarities
Despite the unifying stance on airport grounds and airplane laws for weed, some state airports still have small differences. Here are some of the things to know about flying with weed in airports of some of the top states in the US.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is in charge of cannabis laws in Boston. The legal age of 21 allows any adult to carry 1 ounce (28.35 grams) of cannabis. Only license business transportation holders are allowed to transport cannabis. The Boston Logan International Airport has no specific policy on marijuana. However, it has indicated that an impending crackdown on travelers seeking to fly with weed is to be expected.
The measures put in place to deal with travelers carrying weed above the limit in Massachusetts airport is well outlined. The move is to direct the offending party to the Massachusetts state police. They then resort to the seizure of the cannabis products either to dispose of them or confiscate them. The spokesperson for the Massachusetts state police department Dave Procopio also stated to Boston Globe that travelers with weed within the limit will not have it seized. They will instead be directed to dispose of it or give it to another person of legal age who is not flying.
The San Francisco airport addresses possession of cannabis as a law enforcement issue. The law in San Francisco permits a legal limit of 1 ounce (28.35 grams) for anyone above 21 years. The law enforcers in San Francisco do not opt for confiscation when the traveler is heading to a legal state. They also choose to give warning to the travelers when they are heading to illegal states.
The situation in Los Angeles makes cannabis legal at security checkpoints. However, it is not legal to consume cannabis on Airport grounds. The legal limit of cannabis in terms of amount and age is upheld except for TSA agents which operate under federal laws. Only persons with amounts higher than the acceptable limit are restricted and this is evident in the limited number of marijuana arrests in LAX.
The Denver International Airport does not allow travelers to move with marijuana inline with federal laws. They also do not have policies that allow marijuana advertisement. They only allow travelers to carry CBD or hemp products with less than 0.3% of THC. Until a change occurs in federal laws, you can expect the laws in Denver International Airport to remain the same. The same policy operated in Denver is operated in Seattle where offenders within the legal limit are asked to dispose of the products or return them to their cars.
Other states with special laws include Portland International Airport which allows medical marijuana patients to travel with cannabis. Recreational users on the other hand are prohibited. Las Vegas remains one of the few airports with amnesty boxes for passengers to drop weed when traveling.
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