The Pitfalls Of Flying With Marijuana
BY SARAH LEE GOSSETT PARRISH, CANNABIS BUSINESS LAWYER
Now that Oklahoma has legalized medical marijuana, can patients take it to Will Rogers International Airport? Can patients carry it on the plane or check it in their baggage? Currently, nothing is posted on the airport’s website about a marijuana policy. However, one thing is certain: once you are in a Transportation Security Administration area in any airport, that area is run by, and under the jurisdiction of, the United States government. Thus, federal regulations apply and marijuana is illegal under federal law. Federal law prohibits possession of marijuana, and this includes possession of it in federal airspace.
TSA’s website specifically provides that “medical marijuana” is not allowed in carry-on bags or in checked bags. See, https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/medical.
In Oklahoma, seemingly airport law enforcement, which operates under state law, would adhere to the provisions of S.Q. 788. Additionally, Will Rogers is located within Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma City Council voted in September to reform ordinances addressing marijuana possession. Those reforms became effective on October 26, 2018, and reclassified marijuana as a Class “a” offense with a maximum fine of $400. Those reforms also conformed Oklahoma City’s ordinances to the provisions of S.Q. 788, so that patients with a state medical marijuana license and those with commercial business licenses issued by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority will not be cited for marijuana possession if the amount within their possession is within the legal limit for license holders under S.Q. 788.
Across the country, airports are weighing in with marijuana policies. Boston’s Logan International Airport has no rule to prohibit bringing marijuana to the airport, whereas McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas has a formal, airport-wide ban on marijuana possession and has installed amnesty boxes for cannabis products at key locations outside airport buildings. Denver International Airport prohibits marijuana possession anywhere on airport property. Reno-Tahoe International Airport has a sign in the smoking area that reminds people marijuana use is prohibited. LAX’s policy is that what is legal on the streets of Los Angeles is also legal in airport terminals.
In practice, at most commercial airports in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, no charges will likely be filed against you if a state-legal amount of medical or recreational marijuana is discovered, because the matter is referred to airport law enforcement and state law applies. However, flying with marijuana is illegal under federal law, as is bringing marijuana into post-security areas at any airport in the United States.
So what is the take-away here? Don’t fly with marijuana. While it may be legal, at least medicinally, in a majority of states now, traveling with it is not. Don’t take the risk. Leave it behind.
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