Nearly half of the states in the US have legalized recreational cannabis, with many more permitting its sale and consumption for medical purposes.
You would be forgiven for thinking that flying with cannabis from one of these states to another where it is legal would therefore be straightforward.
In practice, however, it is more complicated owing to the ongoing federal prohibition of marijuana.
As the TSA reminds passengers, this includes not only cannabis flower but also marijuana-infused products such as CBD oil. The only exceptions are cannabis products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC or those that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Anything else, even medical marijuana prescribed by a physician, is not permitted on airplanes irrespective of the departure or arrival airports.
“TSA’s response to the discovery of marijuana is the same in every state and at every airport – regardless of whether marijuana has been or is going to be legalized at the state level,” TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers said. “This also covers medical marijuana.”
However, the TSA stresses that it is in the business of passenger safety and thwarting potential security threats. Finding and busting passengers for personal quantities of cannabis is not really a priority.
TSA officers are not instructed to search for cannabis or other illegal drugs, but if they do find them during the screening process they are obliged to report it to local law enforcement and ensure the products in question don’t make it onboard the flight.
It is then up to local law enforcement to decide what action to take, if any.
“Whether or not the passenger is allowed to travel with marijuana is up to law enforcement’s discretion,” Dankers adds.
In states where cannabis is legal, police officers have no authority to arrest an individual in possession of marijuana, within specified limits. At the same time, crossing state lines with a controlled substance is a federal offense, but the chances of a DEA agent meeting you on arrival to arrest you are slim to none.
So, while it is unlikely you will face legal repercussions for passing through airport security with cannabis in a state where it is legal, you may well find you have to ditch it in order to board your flight.
Still confused? Check out our guide on traveling with cannabis in the US to find out everything you need to know.