What happens if I have marijuana taken by the TSA?
The Biden administration recently announced it was pardoning people convicted of simple marijuana possession. It is currently examining whether marijuana should remain an illegal Schedule I substance.
Our state and nation have evolved on the legality and morality of marijuana use. Of course, it is still illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, but many states, including California, have legalized it in some way.
Does that mean I can fly with it?
Even with the administration’s pardons and other changes, California residents are still not allowed to fly with weed. Technically, bringing marijuana onto a plane is a crime under federal law because airspace is federal territory, where weed is still illegal.
Does this mean that TSA will arrest me?
Again, no. The Transportation Security Administration is not a law enforcement agency, which means its agents do not make arrests. They simply search passengers, baggage and cargo for potential threats.
In fact, their mission does not include searching for drugs.
What happens if you are caught with weed in an airport search depends on the quantity and where you are when you are found. Airports like LAX have stated that they will not stop people found with less than an ounce of weed. However, there is not a national policy on what will occur in airports in states where possession of a small quantity of marijuana is legal.
You could be allowed to proceed, or the weed could be confiscated if it is legal in the state. If it is a large amount, you may be detained and referred to the airport or local police, who will then decide whether to arrest you or let you go.
In our state, those 21 and over can have up to an ounce of marijuana. Alternatively, you can have up to 8 grams of hash. Neither is considered against the law in California, which is why LAX made the announcement.
What to do
Do not be the marijuana guinea pig for your local airport’s enforcement policies. It is a great idea to leave it at home. If you bring marijuana, you have technically broken federal law and risk charges and prosecution.
At a minimum, you face needless delays and headaches when you just want to get where you are going.