You’re planning a trip to Denver and licking your chops at the idea of legally buying a tray of pot brownies to bring home for your family barbecue…but quickly, your excitement turns to distress as you begin to think about the legality of carrying marijuana products on the airplane with you during your flight home.
Is it legal?
What if I get caught?
These are all valid questions. After all, impressing your Uncle Larry with your baking skills isn’t worth the consequence of being locked up behind bars. Lucky for you — I went ahead and did some research on this topic.
Before we get started, please note that I’m not a law enforcement official and nothing I say here should be representative of official law, or, in layman’s terms — if you get busted smuggling a kilo of weed into New York, don’t say Dom at The Short Final told you it was okay. If you don’t agree, close out this page now.
Federal vs. State
First thing’s first, regardless of your feelings on the matter, marijuana is still a Schedule I drug according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), along with heroin and LSD.
Many states including California and Colorado have adopted their own set of marijuana laws. Some states allow for medical marijuana use only, which means you’ll have to have one or more predefined medical ailments to get a medical marijuana card. Other states, like Colorado, allow recreational marijuana — which means you can buy weed almost as easily as you would buy a pack a gum.
The Gray Area
When you buy marijuana in a legal state, there are some things you should keep in mind when you’re looking to transport it. Flying on a commercial airliner is one of those things. When you arrive at the airport and check in with TSA, you are now under federal jurisdiction, meaning all federal laws overtake state laws in that context.
The TSA has held the stance of deferring marijuana cases to local law enforcement. When in local or state PD’s hands, they may 1) ask you to dispose of the marijuana, 2) fine/arrest you, 3) or let you go. Much of this depends on the officer handling the matter and whether they can determine if your weed was purchased legally. So, yes, if you’re meeting El Chapo on the street corner to buy your pot, you’re probably less safe than if you went to Greenery Medical Marijuana Co.
To complicate matters even more, some airports — like Denver International Airport — do not permit marijuana on airport grounds. On the flip side, other airports like Los Angeles and Boston, do not forbid this.
And to add another layer of red tape, some airlines such as American, forbid marijuana on flights.
Just don’t do it. Full stop.
Unless you traveling with your weed is a matter of life or death, don’t do it, no matter where you are traveling. It’s just not worth it. Sure, the TSA is more concerned with you transporting a kilo of TNT as opposed to a kilo of weed, but that doesn’t mean you’re entirely safe.
If you absolutely must travel with your goods, you had better make sure you cover your ass with multiple forms of approval. Med-marijuana card, doctor’s approval, etc.