What you need to know about flying with cannabis
For many people, the holidays mean travel. If you’re one of the 4.6 billion cannabis users living in California, you’ll be happy to know that the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) allows passengers to carry cannabis. But, before you take an extra trip to the dispensary, it pays to familiarize yourself with the new laws.
According to a statement released by LAX on Jan. 1, 2018, people over 21 can “posses 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana for personal consumption” at the airport and cannot be arrested by the Los Angeles Airport Police Division.
This seeming victory for cannabis users is tampered by the LAX’s statement on the TSA.
“However, airport guests should be aware that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening stations are under federal jurisdiction.”
According to federal law, cannabis is still illegal. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance – the same category as LSD and cocaine.
But, there’s still a legal grey area for Californians flying with cannabis. In fact, The United Patients Group (UPG), a cannabis advocacy organization, says that California medical marijuana patients have been able to fly with cannabis in-state without issue.
The official TSA’s website says, “TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but in the event a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis infused product is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
LAX spokesperson Rob Pedregon backs up this statement. He told the Cannifornian that if TSA calls about a passenger carrying weed “they’re sent on their way with a reminder that it’s illegal to bring cannabis on a plane,” as long as the passenger is over 21 and has less than the legal limit.
Although there’s no guide on what will make an agent think that “a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis infused,” it’s pretty obvious that discretion pays. Avoid products with flashy wrappers, anything that smells like weed or being visibly high when you pass through security.
So, it seems like LAX’s policy is pretty lax on travellers with cannabis. If you’re discrete and flying within the state, odds are you’ll be fine. But travelling out-of-state may present more issues.
Your MMJ card that’s valid in California may not transfer to your destination – even if you’re flying from pot-friendly L.A. to Denver. Check the local laws and if your MMJ rec will transfer to your destination state to avoid federal penalties.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a worry-free choice for travelers. CBD products with a THC content below 0.3% are considered safe to travel with, but to err on the side of caution, choose CBD derived from hemp. Of course, the TSA’s restrictions on liquids (3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less) still apply to your CBD oil or topicals. It’s also worth noting that vapes and e-cigarettes, a popular choice for CBD users, are allowed in carry-ons.
Although it seems like to odds are in your favor as a passenger flying with a small amount of cannabis, be prepared to fly without if TSA gets on your case. Carry a hemp-derived CBD product as a backup. As always, be sure to comply with local laws and LAX’s cannabis policy.