In a confusing 24 hours, the official website said flying with medical marijuana was no problem, then reversed it.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had officially declared that if you have a prescription, you can fly with marijuana. But that was for 24 hours only.
On the website page called “What Can I Bring?” which lists items allowed and banned from plane travel, the “Medical Marijuana” section had bright green “Yes” next to “checked” and “carry-on bags” on Tuesday.
In response to marijuana-reform advocates celebrating the change in policy, the TSA tweeted: “We’re sorry for any confusion. A mistake was made in the database of our new ‘What Can I Bring’ tool.”
This incident added to the confusion surrounding whether marijuana users can bring pot on to a plane or not. At the moment, only six US states ban cannabis in all forms, 13% of citizens consume the drug regularly, meaning that there are millions of Americans who are in a legal gray area when they travel with the substance.
Under federal law, marijuana is still very much illegal, while on state levels, the laws differ in minimum age, medical versus recreational usage and amounts allowed.
Robert Capecchi, who is the director of federal policy for the Marijuana Policy Project, a research group in favor of decriminalizing the drug, believes that the “allowed” sign was a temporary moment of honesty, not a database error. As the agency doesn’t usually arrest people for marijuana possession.
The agency only delivered a brief statement similar to the tweet and added: “Our officers are not looking for illegal narcotics, but they have to report them to law enforcement when discovered.”
In matters of low-level drug possession, the TSA defers to local law enforcement, but those found transporting large amounts of cannabis through an airport would be prosecuted by a federal agency such as the DEA.
However, in states without laws prohibiting possession of marijuana, such as Colorado, it’s the airport that makes the decision.
When passengers of age carries small amounts of cannabis, it’s not a criminal offense in Denver international airport, however the traveler gets asked to dispose of their marijuana in one of the airport’s “amnesty boxes.”
Flying with marijuana can place the person on the wrong side of the law, like on international flights. So, to avoid any legal repercussions due to the confusing laws, it’s probably best to play it safe and just leave your weed at home.