Until recently, the only real way to fly with your stash was by hiding it in your shoes or a “pill” bottle — or so we’ve been told. Now, the city of Los Angeles is making things a little easier by allowing passengers flying through LAX to tote their toke in standard carry-on luggage (sort of).
This month, Los Angeles International became the largest airport in the world to officially allow visitors to carry cannabis on the property. According to the airport’s official statement:
“California law allows for individuals 21 years of age or older to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana for personal consumption. With the change in state law, the policy and procedures of the Los Angeles Airport Police Division (APD) regarding marijuana were updated to reflect this change. APD officers, who are California Peace Officers, have no jurisdiction to arrest individuals if they are complying with state law.”
So, to clarify, local Los Angeles PD is cool with you carrying weed at LAX. But, because of ongoing state-versus-federal drug enforcement policies, this move is more complicated than it appears. The TSA — including all airport screening stations — is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Because the DEA still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (just like heroin and LSD), it’s illegal under federal law. So, while LAX officials will now look the other way, TSA agents may not be so kind. The TSA’s own website declares, in no uncertain terms, that marijuana (even medical marijuana) is prohibited in carry-on or checked luggage:
“Possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products, such as cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products.”
That same policy indicates that the agency doesn’t specifically screen for illicit drugs, including marijuana. However, if such substances reveal themselves during routine screening, you’re likely in for a major headache. The irony, however, is that, if the TSA finds your stash, their policy is to — wait for it — hand the offender over to local law enforcement. (Round and round we go …)
To further complicate things, drug laws differ between states. Currently, 30 states allow cannabis for medical purposes while only nine states permit recreational use. California state is cool with you carrying a decent amount for personal use, but many other states are not so lax. So, it’s incumbent upon every traveler to know the law in their destination state. You might skate through security at Los Angeles International, only to find your bags confiscated and yourself criminally charged upon arrival.
In case you’re wondering, actually smoking dope on airport grounds is most definitely not permitted. Violators are subject to up to $250 in fines. So keep your fancy bong and CBD-infused soda packed away.