Traveling with Cannabis: A Guide to Navigating Different Laws
Because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, it can be very risky travelling as a weed lover. Being armed with knowledge of laws can save your some severe hassles when you just want to see the country while staying medicated. Some states allow for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, but others can give you some harsh jail time and a hefty fine for possession. Here, we take a look at some guidelines for staying out of trouble as a traveling cannabis enthusiast.
Flying With Cannabis
It is illegal to fly with cannabis, but busting you for weed isn't airport security's top priority. Flying with cannabis is such a low priority that in 2015, the Denver International Airport only had 29 incidents where they asked passengers to throw out their cannabis. After that year, they stopped keeping records of those incidents. Similarly, 11 people were arrested at the Jacksonville Airport in Florida for cannabis possession out of 2.8 million screened in 2016.
Some airports are even cannabis-friendly. If you fly within the state of Oregon and are over the age of 21, you can fly with up to one ounce of cannabis. If youíre caught, some airports will simply ask you to throw it out or ask for a medical cannabis recommendation.
Most courts have concluded that TSA screeners at checkpoints are not law enforcement officers. They do not have the authority to arrest. They do not have the authority to seize an item. When a prohibited item is found, they give the passenger the option of disposing of the item, leaving the item, or abandoning the item. When they discover potential criminal activity, TSA security screeners refer the matter to other law enforcement officers who may be federal or local (including state), or both.
This understanding of the limited authority of TSA screeners underscores TSAís policy on marijuana activity:
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.
The TSA is a federal agency, so their decisions regarding your pot trump local laws. Federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana.
Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.
Driving With Cannabis
Patients in states where cannabis is legal may carry up to an ounce when on the road. In California, for example, youíre allowed to carry four grams of concentrated cannabis. You canít, however, cross state lines with your cannabis, even if a bordering state has medical cannabis laws or you have a doctorís recommendation.
It's very possible to travel with cannabis, provided you know the laws and are mindful. Medical cannabis patients use the plant to relieve painful symptoms and canít afford to go without it. If you arm yourself with knowledge of all the laws for every state, county, and municipality you travel to, you can make a more informed decision on traveling with cannabis.