Can I Take Marijuana on a Plane?

By September 25, 2014Thomas Law Firm

So you’re headed out of state on a vacation and want to take some marijuana with you, the first question you might have; is it legal? The answer is NO.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a strict drug policy that follows Federal Government laws regarding all illegal drugs, yes marijuana is still illegalaccording the Feds. Since all air travel is regulated by a federal agency, marijuana still falls on the no-fly list. In fact, Justin Bieber has been the subject of a FAA investigation into his in-flight marijuana use on a private plane. No charges were filed, but this shows you how seriously the FAA takes in-flight drug use, even on private airplanes.


TSA and Drugs

TSA sees no difference in medical or recreational pot, but takes an interesting stance on the subject; “TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.” In fact, TSA K-9 teams are not trained to find marijuana, only explosives.


Airport Rules

Denver International Airport (DIA) has taken its own approach by banning marijuana on the premises and imposing a fine of up to $999 for a 3rd offense. This approach seems to be more of a deterrent than anything; there have been no pot fines issued to date.


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) has a different approach because of the way cannabis laws are set up Washington. Unlike, Colorado, Washington doesn’t allow the owners of large public buildings (like airports), assembly halls, or stadiums to ban marijuana possession. That means, if you are carrying a legal amount and are 21 years old, they will allow you to take marijuana with you.


What about flying from Colorado to Washington? Both states have legal pot!

The answer is still no, but this is a pretty grey area.


While the Federal Government has made it clear they will pursue anyone who tries to take marijuana across state lines where the destination doesn’t allow legal pot use, they haven’t said much about traveling from pot-friendly state to pot-friendly state. As a general rule, state laws will apply wherever you go and if the state you’re going to isn’t pot friendly, you risk being arrested for trafficking. You might also get hit with a fine, for instance, if you get caught at DIA. TSA in Aspen, Colorado was surprised to find a large amount of edible marijuana products in baggage earlier this year. The local Sheriff’s office did not press charges because the passengers were not breaking state law.


There are some states that honor out-of-state medical marijuana licenses. Arizona, Delaware, Maine, Montana, and Rhode Island allow some form of reciprocity for Colorado medical patients. Ironically, Colorado doesn’t offer reciprocity for out-of-state medical patients.


It’s not a good idea to bring marijuana on an airplane. It might be possible, but federal regulations will trump state laws if you get caught transporting any drugs across state lines; this one is a no-brainer. We suggest not doing it. Smoke a joint or two in states where it’s legal, but understand the risk of taking any marijuana on a plane.

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