In 2012 state legislation was passed that allowed recreational marijuana usage to be introduced in Colorado, which has led to numerous economic and legal benefits for many in the general public. While within state borders, you are within your rights to use marijuana recreationally, things can get a little murky when boarding planes. If you have a vacation or trip coming up, you should know about laws surrounding marijuana and airports.
While you are correct that Colorado state laws indicate that all citizens are within their legal right to use marijuana recreationally, unfortunately, federal law states quite a different story. Under federal law, marijuana usage is not permitted for recreational use and is still considered illicit. Why does federal law matter if you are passing through Denver international?
Despite airports operating within a state, they receive federal funding or grants that will cause these locations to default to federal jurisdiction when processing certain cases. What this means for travelers is that if they are stopped for possession of marijuana, there is a likelihood they are violating federal law.
Interestingly, these cases are the simple fact that the TSA has stated that their policy on finding marijuana on passenger luggage is dependent on the airport. Denver International still has an ordinance ban on marijuana, meaning that you cannot legally carry any marijuana.
In some states like California or New York, passengers can carry up to a certain amount of marijuana that will be deemed legal. How much marijuana passengers can carry in some airports will vary but usually will remain under three ounces. While screening areas under the TSA are protected by federal regulation, this does mean that technically you should not be allowed to carry marijuana; local state laws can somewhat circumvent this measure.
Of course, the law will change depending on the airport you go to, and some states can have stricter guidelines on what you can carry in terms of marijuana. While TSA reps have stated that they only follow federal guidelines, this can be different from reality in certain states. Passengers that disembark from New York with marijuana versus those that land in Texas might have an easier time with the TSA.
If perchance a TSA agent marks something you are carrying as suspicious, they would have to defer to local law enforcement to follow up on the security screening. Once again, in states where recreational usage is legal, and their airports allow you to carry marijuana, passengers will most likely be allowed to go about their day.
While TSA guidelines do state that they do not specifically search for marijuana, in the same breath, they state they only search for illegal substances. Knowing what we know because marijuana is still technically illegal under federal law gives TSA agents a window to potentially report a passenger for carrying marijuana that may fall outside the prohibited medical marijuana guidelines.
Until federal regulations are changed, passengers might be safer not to carry marijuana on their flight and safely purchase legal marijuana in state-licensed dispensaries after they land. We should note that it is illegal to smoke marijuana in airports or onboard aircraft, so please be aware of these conditions.
If you find yourself in a position where you or your loved one has been stopped by law enforcement for the possession of drugs, contact Law Office of Kevin Cahill at (720) 548-2990, and our team can help schedule your free initial consultation.