September 25, 2010

What TSA Says About Flying With Medical Marijuana

September 25, 2010
Marijuana airplane

Marijuana airplaneBack in August, after hearing about people flying from Montana to Michigan with medical marijuana, I contacted the Federal Transportation Security Administration to see what the official rules were. Here are the questions I asked:

“It is my understanding that medical marijuana patients can now fly with their medicine. Is this correct? If so, I have a few questions. Are the policy/guidelines online anywhere so I can read them? Also, what destinations are ok? I heard you have to be departing and have a final arrival in a medical marijuana state, but what if the destination state does not have a reciprocal agreement with other state programs? How much medicine can you take on the plane? Is it the limit of the state you are departing from, or the arriving state, or the lesser of the two?? Thanks in advance.”

This was their response that I received recently:

“Thank you for your e-mail concerning the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) policy for allowing passengers with State authorized cards to bring marijuana onboard commercial airlines.

Although TSA has no regulations addressing possession and transportation of marijuana, possessing marijuana in any detectable amount is a crime under Federal law. Further, it is a crime under the laws of many States to possess or transport marijuana.

In the course of screening passengers and their belongings for prohibited items (weapons, explosives, and other objects that may pose a risk to aviation security), Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) sometimes discover marijuana or other items that are illegal under State and Federal laws. When this occurs, TSA’s standard operating procedures require TSOs to report evidence of potential crimes to law enforcement authorities. It is up to the responding law enforcement officer, not our TSOs, to evaluate the circumstances and decide whether to arrest a passenger or confiscate the illegal item.

TSOs must contact a law enforcement officer when marijuana is discovered because (1) possessing marijuana is a crime under Federal law, and (2) TSOs cannot make an independent determination as to whether a passenger’s documentation is sufficient to authorize possession of marijuana under State law. Law enforcement officers must be contacted even if a passenger is carrying a State-issued cannabis card or other documentation indicating that the marijuana is for medical purposes.

TSA Contact Center”

To sum up: it’s up to the local police. I would advise contacting them ahead of time to let them know that you are coming, and be very upfront about your intentions. I have had friends do that, and they were blown away by how cooperative the police were. Of course, they were only flying with small amounts, so that might make a difference when compared to flying with a pound. The amount you can take is dependent upon where you are going to and where you are coming from. If you don’t exceed either state’s limits, then you should be alright! I can’t wait to fly to Montana and visit my buddy with some Oregon nugs!