If you’re located in a state where cannabis is permissible, it can be easy to be lulled into complacency about having marijuana on you. But when you get on an airplane, you’re technically entering federal jurisdiction, and crazy as it may seem, cannabis is federally banned as a Schedule I substance. Even with that, the TSA has clarified that their primary interest is safety threats.
Recently, on Instagram, the TSA posted:
“Are we cool? We like to think we’re cool. We want you to have a pleasant experience at the airport and arrive safely at your destination. But getting caught while trying to fly with marijuana or cannabis-infused products can really harsh your mellow… Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement…”
But the repercussions of getting caught with cannabis in a pill bottle by the TSA could change depending on your travel itinerary. A traveler flying out of California, where it’s legal, who gets caught with marijuana by TSA agents, will not face the same hassles as someone flying out of Texas, where it is illegal. It can vary from forfeiting the stash before boarding the plane to getting arrested, missing your flight, and spending time in jail. To avoid fines or a criminal record, travelers must know the marijuana laws where they’re traveling from and to.
Because of that Schedule I designation, it’s illegal to fly anywhere with recreational marijuana. Despite requiring a doctor’s prescription, being approved for various medical conditions, and even cannabis-derived medications being FDA approved, medical marijuana holds no special legal allowances. A medical marijuana card could act as a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card but don’t depend on it. Delta Airlines and American Airlines have banned outright medical marijuana from their planes.
As long as it’s THC-free, CBD is legal to travel with throughout the United States. It’s a good idea to bring an FDA-approved – and labeled – product through to avoid any confusion at the TSA checkpoint.
Even with all of this guidance, grey areas remain. It’s important to remember the TSA doesn’t enforce the law. If they come across cannabis in your carry-on or checked luggage, they hand it over to the local police. What happens next depends on the airport, the departure state, the destination state, and the amount of cannabis in question. If you’re heading to a state where cannabis is legal, buy your cannabis locally after you arrive. It’s easier, and it helps out that cannabis retailer.