While citizens of Washington and Colorado can legally carry small amounts of marijuana, they are not allowed the same privilege when traveling by air.
Federal law still recognizes marijuana as an illegal drug, making it a criminal offence to fly the friendly skies while in possession of weed. The question is how airports plan to enforce rules prohibiting passengers from taking marijuana on a plane.
The Transportation Security Administration Reacts
Expecting to see an increase in the amount of marijuana carried through Washington and Colorado airports, the TSA issued a formal statement on their website: TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.
All checked bags are screened by TSA personnel. If a passenger is caught trying to bring pot onto a plane, whether it be on their person, in carryon luggage or in checked baggage, he or she is looking at potential jail time and/or a maximum $2,500 fine.
Airports Taking Different Approaches
Each airport in Colorado and Washington can choose its own rules and regulations as they apply to marijuana. As such, each location is attempting to tackle the issue in a unique way.
Denver International Airport: DIA is the only airport to initiate a zero-tolerance policy for marijuana. Travelers are completely banned from possessing or displaying pot. Signs are posted throughout the airport, warning passengers the possession of marijuana is not allowed. Violators can face stiff fines up to a maximum of $999 per incidence.
Colorado Springs Airport and Aspen/Pitkin County Airport: Both Colorado airports have decided to approach the potential weed problem in a pretty innovative way: amnesty boxes. Let’s say a passenger shows up to one of these airports and, once inside, remembers he is carrying a small amount of weed in an overnight bag. Amnesty boxes can be found throughout either airport, offering a place to dispose of the drug without facing legal consequences. The marijuana in each box is later destroyed.
Proper Protocol in the Airport
Whether or not passengers have a valid medical marijuana license, weed (in any form) is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government. Additionally, federal law does not differentiate between medical and non-medical marijuana. One is just as illegal as the other. For those planning to travel, the best bet is to leave all marijuana behind.
Also Read: These Guys Want to Deliver Weed to Your Door
Image Source: Flickr/Kevin Gong