Nov 292012
 

marijuana airplane tsa flying security colorado washingtonFlying With Legal Marijuana?  The Answer Might Surprise You.

Flying with medical marijuana between states that have reciprocal agreements has been legal for awhile now. I even know dozens of people that have flown with medical marijuana from their home state to states that have no medical marijuana program, and for the first half of the trip, it’s perfectly legal. This is because TSA does not enforce marijuana laws.

TSA’s policy is to refer any marijuana cases to local law enforcement. If you are in a medical marijuana state, airport or otherwise, your card protects you. So for instance if you are an Oregon medical marijuana patient flying from Portland, Oregon to say Tennessee, the whole time you are in the airport in Portland, including security, you are legal. The local police that TSA would be calling would look at your card, check your supply, and assuming everything is legit, you would be on your way. Of course, it begs the question ‘what happens when I land in Tennessee?’ If the Portland police or TSA notified the other side, you would likely be greeted by local law enforcement in Tennessee…

States like Arizona recognize out of state cards, so flying from Oregon to Arizona with medical marijuana is perfectly OK. But how does this work with recreational, legal marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington? Westword recently posed that question to TSA, and here was their response:

“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.

Whether or not marijuana is considered “medical marijuana” under local law is not relevant to TSA screening because TSA is governed by federal law and 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.”

So to sum up, ‘the final decision rests with TSA’ which is ‘TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer,’ which will be the local police. Seattle police and Denver police are not going to arrest anyone for personal marijuana possession anymore, so in a roundabout way, the answer is yes, you can fly between Washington State and Colorado with one ounce of marijuana legally. You run the risk of harassment by security,  but at the end of the day, what you are doing is not illegal.

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • DavidTheExpert

    This is really counter-intuitive, but a very good thing for patients (and soon legal consumers). It would seem like there would be absolutely no leeway at an airport, since they are governed so tightly by federal agencies at every turn… FAA, TSA, HSA… they aren’t exactly known for respecting state laws.

    • Johnny oneye

      DEA,fbi,cia-mia,ce,met,camp, the list goes on to the tune of billions!
      Amerikas new cancer detection! fullybody scan and a pat on the ass!

  • http://www.facebook.com/miggy420 Miggy Miggs

    Lets buy my ticket and we’ll find out for sure.

    • Johnny oneye

      I will donate some shake so if they take it they get shwag!

  • Johnny oneye

    “Seattle police and Denver police are not going to arrest anyone for personal marijuana possession anymore”

    say it again!

    I had to re-read , it just hasnt clicked yet. If it were Cali I would be forefront!

    Strange enough some clubs that closed are saying fukit and re-opening.

    They cant arrest everyone !seems like they were trying to.

    Now take a back of big shake and try flying the

    “friendly skies”

    The Captain has removed the no smoking sign , feel free to move about the country!

  • Ms Cannabistan

    utter crap… I know folks who are patients and have been busted at Seatac airport… an airport collects federal funds and you CAN LOSE your medical defense if caught with medical marijuana in these locations… shame on you Johnny for not examining the issue further… we don’t want to see folks made stupid decisions and be busted. SEATAC airport is NOT in Seattle so it won’t be SEATTLE police who arrive but Seatac police… Seatac does not have a lowest priority law for marijuana, Seattle does.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Paulfan/100000398733989 Ron Paulfan

      What in the world are you talking about? Can you cite your claim that you can lose your medical defence claim if caught with marijuana at an airport?

      The article is correct that most cases are diverted to local law enforcement… otherwise, a Federal Police force would be required to arrest you (State cops can’t do it), so better call out the FBI. They would have to house you in a Federal detention center. You would have to be investigated by Federal investigators. A Federal prosecutor would have to prosecute you. A Federal Judge would preside over the case — which would happen in a Federal Court house. And if you were convicted, you would be placed in a Federal penitentiary.

      The Feds to not have the manpower, desire, money or infrastructure to support such non-sense.

      The article is 100% correct. The Feds won’t touch it.

  • Ms Cannabistan

    SO NO YOU CANNOT LEGALLY FLY BETWEEN WASHINGTON STATE AND COLORADO WITH YOUR MEDICAL MARIJUANA – NOT LEGAL! NOT Legal! TSA not “dealing” with something is VERY different than being “legal” – ask any lawyer – start with Jeffrey Steinborn – here in Seattle.. ask him. NOT LEGAL.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Paulfan/100000398733989 Ron Paulfan

    I know many people who take MJ with them every time they fly. Even out of the Country to places like Mexico (who also have decriminalization and even legalization of small amounts).

    Flying with pot has never been an issue… from what I’ve been told.

  • mike

    I have flown from Wa. to Alaska had a few joints in my checked bag with my card, no one said a thing. US to foreign countries is a different story.

  • jaspreet

    You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write

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  • Zilla

    I’ma mmj patient and I’ve flown safely from PDX to Little Rock, AR via Denver in April 2012 and had no problem. Put the herb in my carry on rolled up in clothes. No one even said anything through security. :)