Flying Weed: TSA Marijuana Rules Explained

As those with an affinity for marijuana — or pop culture aficionados — can tell you, April 20 or 4/20 might as well be a national holiday.

It’s the day cannabis lovers celebrate the legendary weed. Legend has it that the most plausible historical origin of the 4/20 came from the 1970s, when a group of Californian teenagers met every day at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana, with the ritual spreading rapidly from there. and the timestamp just changing. at 4/20.


Of course, what was taboo 50 years ago is more accepted today. Medical marijuana dispensaries are spread across the country, and most states have relaxed their laws on how much recreational marijuana a person can have.

Ah, but can we fly with it? (And by flying, we mean literally, on a plane, not metaphorically.)

The short answer is no. And, at the same time, in a way.

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According to the Transportation Security Administration, “Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some cannabidiol (CBD) oils, remain illegal under federal law, except for products that contain no more than 0.3 % THC on a dry weight basis or which are FDA approved. (See Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report suspected violations of the law to local, state, or federal authorities.

There’s your hard no. It is still illegal to travel with marijuana.


“TSA screening procedures are security-focused and designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. As a result, TSA security agents do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if an illegal substance is found during security screening, the TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement agent. .

There is your “kind of”.

It is a risk that you, as a passenger, will have to take. The TSA has jurisdiction over airline marijuana policy and will refer you to the proper authorities if they find any.

If they find that’s the key phrase.

For example, when New York State legalized the recreational possession of up to three ounces of cannabis last year, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein admitted the strange dichotomy of interpreting the law. Farbstein said TSA agents are not looking for marijuana, but have a legal duty to report it if they find more than three ounces.

“There have been no changes to how the TSA handles marijuana or other drugs that TSA agents encounter while performing their security duties,” Farbstein told Gotham Magazine.

Benjamin Branham, spokesperson for the Port Authority, which operates John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in New York, said:

“New Yorkers 21 and older can possess, obtain and transport up to three ounces of cannabis. Therefore, PAPD does not issue tickets, seize or arrest for this amount at New York airports.

Another point to consider is where you are traveling as your final destination. While society may be more accepting of limited marijuana use, only 18 states — less than half — have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

So while you may think you’ve dodged a bullet while sneaking past the TSA checkpoint, you may still have to deal with state laws depending on where you end up.

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