Information essential to your trip with cannabis
In 2021, when marijuana will finally be legalized in New York, the number of U. S Now, 19 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 38 states (plus DC) have legalized marijuana in some capacity. C , and several other territories) legalize the possession of marijuana for medical purposes, such as, for example, the alleviation of flying-related stress.
Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law. Possession of marijuana, regardless of quantity, carries a possible one-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine at the federal level. The recent nine-year prison sentence handed down to WNBA star Brittney Griner in Russia for possessing cannabis product in any quantity is a stark reminder of the extreme dangers associated with such travel.
So, what should someone who is carrying marijuana do if they plan to cross international borders?
If you're flying within the United States from JFK to LAX, both of which are in states where recreational marijuana use is legal, are you allowed to bring your THC-infused gummies on board?
How about if you're taking a road trip from Washington state to Canada, both of which have legalized recreational marijuana use? Or, if you're traveling back from Amsterdam to D.C. The answer is C, because it now exists in both of those states where marijuana is legal.
Many tourists have been left in the dark about the legality of their activities due to federal and state officials' contradictory and ambiguous statements.
TPG researched new regulations and conferred with numerous airport authorities to illuminate relevant rules, regulations, and suggestions for passengers.
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Possession of Marijuana While Traveling
As seen in this image (Credit: Jamie Grill/Getty Images)
Colorado was the first state in the United States to S recreational marijuana use in the state Eighteen additional states have joined them since then. The District of Columbia and 38 other states have passed legislation making medical or recreational marijuana use legal. C plus Puerto Rico
Consistent efforts to decriminalize and legalize cannabis have created favorable conditions for the growth of the cannabis tourism industry. Once known primarily for its coffee shops, today's visitors to Amsterdam come for a much broader range of experiences. Nowadays, you can go on a luxury wine and weed tour in California, Washington, or Oregon, or visit Canada to check out the country's booming marijuana dispensaries.
Though marijuana legalization is on the rise at the national and international levels, it remains against federal law in the United States. S the national government level
The U S Land and air border crossings are regulated by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. Its official statement on the subject reads as follows: "Although marijuana use and possession have been decriminalized in some states, it is important for members of the traveling public to understand that federal law still prohibits the importation of any amount of this drug." " Do not cross the border with any amount of marijuana at all," Hector Mancha, CBP's director of field operations in El Paso, Texas, emphasized. ”
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has the duty of preventing the flow of illegal drugs into the country, so they have permission to conduct thorough searches for illegal drugs and even use dogs trained to sniff them out.
Domestic flights are subject to a different inspection procedure.
In states where medical or recreational marijuana use is legal, passengers carrying marijuana can pass through a TSA checkpoint with less hassle. In light of the fact that the law mandates that TSA's screening procedures be "focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers," this is the case. The TSA "does not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs," but "if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer," the agency says. ”
Some potential exceptions to federal regulations could be made during the handoff from TSA to law enforcement. Small amounts of marijuana found in your luggage may not be of interest or concern to local authorities.
Flyers within California's borders can have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 28. Robert Rueca, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, told TPG that anyone caught with more than 5. 5 grams (about one ounce) of marijuana for personal use would be arrested. In a nutshell, the San Francisco Police Department only enforces state law. We will let the passenger board the plane if they are leaving California, but we will warn them that the laws they are subject to after landing may differ from those in California. Officer Rueca has confirmed that the San Francisco Police Department will not issue tickets, make arrests, detain, or confiscate product from any passengers who are in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
According to Heath Montgomery, the airport's director of public relations, "the Los Angeles Airport Police, who are California Peace Officers, have no jurisdiction to arrest individuals if they are complying with state law."
As the agency in charge of airport law enforcement in New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority has stated that it will not penalize travelers who are in possession of minimal amounts of marijuana. A Port Authority spokesperson was quoted in The Gothamist as saying, "New Yorkers 21 and older can possess, obtain, and transport up to three ounces of cannabis." As a result, New York City airports will not see any citations, seizures, or arrests by PAPD for this sum. ”
Since airport police in marijuana-friendly states rarely take any action, the TSA probably won't call the cops if they find some pot in your bag. However, it is still possible that this will occur, and that law enforcement will attempt to detain you for a federal offense. Therefore, taking marijuana through a domestic airport should be viewed as a low-risk, but not risk-free, action.
Where recreational marijuana use is permitted by state or territory
Here is a breakdown of the legal status of marijuana across the country so you can weigh the benefits and drawbacks of bringing it with you on your next trip. In order to stay up-to-date on the specifics of the law, it is recommended that you contact your local government or consult a resource such as NORML's legal tips page.
NORML is the source of this sentence.
A list of jurisdictions where medical marijuana is permitted
(Taken from the NORML website)
As can be seen in the above map, the majority of the United S Many jurisdictions have legalized cannabis and related products for medical use by individuals with a doctor's recommendation. Check with local regulations or NORML's law information page for specifics, as they may vary greatly from state to state.
Don't risk it; err on the side of federal regulation.
Last spring, at a press conference, a U. S A Customs and Border Protection agent elaborated that a U. S A U.S. citizen returning from Canada who has used marijuana will be allowed back into the country, but "may face a couple extra questions." ”
The agent explained, "You may be subject to search if it is obvious that someone in the car has smoked or we smell it, but barring [possession], they would be allowed to continue."
The reason for this is that once you pass through a security checkpoint, federal authorities become responsible for your safety.
At a press conference in Detroit last spring, CBP's then-director of field operations, Christopher Perry, explained that "crossing the border or arriving at U. S port of entry... may result in denial of entry, seizure, fines, and even arrest ”
It's safe to say that bringing a souvenir blunt across a border isn't worth the potential legal trouble.
Even if you're flying from one state where marijuana is legal to another state with similar laws, you're still subject to the same rules that apply to travelers returning from a trip to Canada. As a result, federal authorities will likely need to be involved.
The Transportation Security Administration's stated mission is to prevent dangerous items, such as explosives and weapons, from boarding airplanes. However, it must notify local authorities if it becomes aware of a violation of federal law.
Michael McCarthy, formerly the TSA's spokesperson and now the U.S. S U.S. Department of Homeland Security Officials Inform TPG Government policy makes it clear that having any amount of marijuana in your possession is against the law. Our police officers can't just choose to ignore illegal activity. ”
Regardless of where the passenger is going, where they came from, how much of the substance they have, or whether or not they have a medical marijuana card, the TSA is required to report any illegal substances to the police, as explained by McCarthy. Thereafter, it is up to the local police to decide what measures to take.
Visitors should be aware that the consequences for being caught with marijuana in one state can vary greatly from another. For instance, in Oregon, travelers who have marijuana on them can sometimes (but not always) board a flight within the state without having to get rid of it. A security guard may waive your bag check in some instances if they find a small amount of marijuana there. However, in some of the white states shown above, you might find yourself with your hands cuffed behind your back.
Airports in weed-friendly states often have "amnesty boxes" where passengers can leave their cannabis or return it to their driver. For a long time, the weed amnesty box at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) was infamous for being too full to hold any more illegal substances.
Public information officer Rob Pedregon of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), one of the busiest airports in one of the largest weed-friendly cities, has stated that LAX's primary goal is to educate the public rather than issue citations and arrests.
Pedregon said, "Tourists need to know what's legal and not legal, particularly with regards to quantity and transportation." To put it simply, we are committed to teaching." We will do our best to accommodate them by explaining the laws and helping them through screening so they can return the cannabis to their original destination. ”
What will really get travelers into trouble, according to Pedregon, is having more than the legal amount (1 ounce in California) and trying to transport it.
Equipment for use with marijuana
Picture by Hazem Kamal/Getty Images
Not all marijuana-derived substances are as simple as leaf marijuana, edibles, oils, and hash, all of which contain tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), a psychoactive compound that is illegal under federal law and not permitted during air travel. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, derived from hemp, has no psychoactive effects because its THC content is so low.
As you can see, the waters are getting muddy. Since hemp was decriminalized in the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD oil made from hemp is now legitimately available. Although officials are less likely to be concerned with a CBD gummy than they would be with a nugget of pure pot, tourists should still exercise caution when traveling with such products and tinctures. That's because CBD may still be illegal if it's derived from cannabis.
A bowl or pipe used for smoking marijuana can also be brought past security. If there isn't enough resin for any practical purpose, officials at LAX say it's fine to bring it through security. TSA employees, however, are not educated on the subtle differences between cannabis products. As a result, local authorities are likely to be notified if a person is observed with an object (like a bong) that looks suspicious and could be used to consume drugs that are illegal at the federal level.
Any lithium-battery-powered vape pen, regardless of its intended use, must be carried on board the aircraft and cannot be checked. Bringing THC-containing vape pen cartridges across state lines is illegal (Brittney Griner was arrested for this in Russia). However, unless you have dozens of cartridges in your bag, the TSA probably won't bother you about them.
If you're thinking about bringing cannabis or cannabis-related products with you on a trip, you should familiarize yourself with the laws of the states, the federal government, and any other countries you may be visiting.
In the U S If you're flying within the country, the TSA and local law enforcement will be far more concerned with potential security risks than low-level drug enforcement, even in states where marijuana is legal.
While state laws may vary, federal laws still apply at airports and border crossings.
Traveling without any marijuana is the easiest and safest option, even though you probably won't get in trouble for bringing a pot brownie or baggie of gummies onto the plane in most states.
together with further reporting by Jordan Allen
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