As more of the country legalizes recreational and medical marijuana, it gets more and more confusing where you’re allowed to have it and where it’s still off limits.
You have states where marijuana offenses can land you heavy fines and jail time close to states with dispensaries that look like Apple stores. You can buy cannabis at music festivals in California, or go to a weed-friendly campsite in New Mexico with a “Cannabis Minister ”to officiate weddings.
But no matter where you are in the United States, you still can’t legally fly with edibles.
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That’s because on a federal level, marijuana is illegal to use or possess under the Controlled Substances Act. Or technically speaking, as the Transportation Security Administration has on its website:
“Marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA.”
It is illegal to fly with edibles even if you’re in a state where cannabis is legal and the edibles were manufactured and sold in accordance with state law, says Seth A. Goldberg, a partner at Duane Morris and a team lead of its cannabis industry group.
Beyond the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal to take marijuana across state lines, says Craig Small, a Denver attorney for the law firm Clark Hill who has more than 12 years experience in the field of cannabis law and litigation.
“There is the Interstate Commerce Clause that gives federal jurisdiction over transportation of goods and services across state lines,” Small says. “And so certainly marijuana would be implicated in that as well.”
If a TSA officer sees you’re breaking federal law, they are supposed to report it to the authorities.
However, that is not their primary concern when you’re going through security. TSA screening procedures are focused on threats to aviation safety, trying to spot things in your bag that could be a potential threat to flights, not finding your edibles. The agency website even says “… TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs.”
“THC gummies are not really a threat that the TSA is concerned with,” Goldberg says.
Same goes for those dogs patrolling the airport. “TSA Canines are trained to detect explosives and explosive materials in a busy transportation environment,” agency spokesperson Daniel D. Velez said in an email.
While people can and do get in trouble if they have large amounts of marijuana in their bags or travel internationally with cannabis, Small says he hasn’t seen any serious enforcement actions from TSA coming across recreational amounts of marijuana. He’s heard stories of TSA turning to local law enforcement to deal with the issue, but in Denver, “which is where I hear the most stories… local law enforcement just tells you to get rid of it,” he says.
Goldberg says he has heard of people getting stopped at the airport for having cannabis and being asked to throw it away, or they have the issue reported to local police.
It’s ultimately up to the TSA officer to decide what to do if they find your edible.
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“Law enforcement could simply do nothing, [or] law enforcement could potentially try to bring some kind of charges for violating a law, potentially the Controlled Substances Act, ”Goldberg says.
But even with TSA not going out of their way to look for edibles, Small says it’s never worth it to try to travel with cannabis.
“If you’re flying from one marijuana state to another marijuana state, then leave what you have at home,” he says. “Fly stress-free without ever having to worry about any of these things — even though it may be unlikely to happen. ”
“When you’re going to the beach, you don’t bring your own saltwater taffy,” he added. “Just go to the beach, enjoy their saltwater taffy.”
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