Flying with Weed: Navigating the Complexities of Traveling with Marijuana in the U.S.

As weed becomes legal in more states, how and if travelers can bring their stash on board remains up in the air. With 21 states and Washington, D.C. legalizing recreational use and 37 states allowing medical marijuana, it’s no surprise that people want to bring their weed with them when they travel. However, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which makes traveling with it a risky proposition.

Traveling between states where marijuana is legal in both the origin and destination may sound straightforward, but with overlapping jurisdictions and hard-to-enforce guidelines, it gets complicated. So, can you fly with marijuana?

Technically, no. Under federal law, the possession and sale of marijuana is illegal, and airports are subject to federal law. Despite President Joe Biden’s recent pardons for anyone convicted of a federal crime for simple possession and his directive to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule I substances have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse.

That being said, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a different stance when it comes to medical marijuana. The TSA has stated that medical marijuana products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by the FDA are permitted in both carry-on and checked bags. However, TSA agents wouldn’t likely ask to see a medical marijuana card unless the traveler was carrying a larger amount or was traveling through a jurisdiction where weed was entirely illegal.

But will TSA search for marijuana? The TSA said it is not actively searching for marijuana but rather focuses screening procedures on “potential threats to aviation and passengers” like weapons and explosives. William Kroger, a defense attorney who’s represented clients arrested for marijuana at airports, says if agents find marijuana in a passenger’s luggage, the TSA doesn’t have the power to arrest travelers. It can, however, call local police. Some local police officials have stated they would follow local laws in that situation.

It’s also important to note that most arrests involve “passengers who take an amount which is more than what is considered personal use,” said Karla Rodriguez, police captain at Los Angeles World Airports. The DEA could be alerted by local law enforcement if the quantity of marijuana exceeds personal use or officers have reason to be suspicious that the traveler intends to sell marijuana.

So, what if the TSA finds marijuana on you? If it does find an amount that exceeds local limits, which vary widely for both weed and THC-infused edibles, it will alert local officials. Some airports offer amnesty boxes for travelers to discard their pot before traveling. For example, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has 12 amnesty boxes, and one at Midway International Airport. However, some travelers may not want to part with their stash.

The bottom line is that while traveling with marijuana may seem appealing, it’s still a risky proposition. Until federal law changes, travelers should be aware of the potential consequences and follow the guidelines of both their departure and arrival locations. It’s also important to note that laws regarding marijuana use and possession can vary widely, even within states, so research is essential before traveling with any cannabis products.

In conclusion, the laws regarding marijuana use and possession are continually evolving, and travelers should stay informed to avoid potential legal issues. While it may be tempting to bring your stash on board, it’s best to err on the side of caution until federal laws change. For now, the safest option is to leave your weed at home and enjoy it when you arrive at your destination. (Source)

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