Parts of Bellingham International Airport in Bellingham, WA, were briefly shut down and evacuated last month when a “grenade-like” object was spotted passing through TSA screening equipment.
The incident occurred at around 8:30am on April 9th, 2016, when officials say they saw what appeared to be a grenade traveling through one of the airport’s x-ray machines. TSA officers located the owner of the luggage and asked what was inside. After the man replied that the only thing inside was clothing, officers began a search.
Upon discovering the object, which appeared to be a camouflage-patterned grenade, airport officials evacuated the screening and boarding areas in compliance with standard procedures. The incident also resulted in the delay of four departing flights.
The Bellingham Police Department’s bomb squad was called to the scene to inspect the item, only to discover that it was a grinder designed for breaking down marijuana. Though there’s been no word on whether the owner of the grinder will face charges, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said he was released and allowed to board his flight.
It’s important to note that TSA agents are not searching bags for drugs or even paraphernalia, but rather weapons or objects that could hurt someone. That said, whether you live in a state where marijuana is legal or not, it’s best to avoid taking items associated with cannabis consumption to the airport because they could still land you in trouble with the law. As the TSA notes on their website, “[i]n the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
If you’re a cannabis lover who is planning on flying soon, keep the following in mind as you head to the airport:
- Don’t pack objects that look like, or could be considered to be, weapons. This includes elaborate pipes/bongs, grinders, nails for your dab rig, etc.
- Avoid smoking right before you go inside the airport. The TSA employs drug sniffing dogs that could potentially pick up on the smell. While they probably won’t do anything to you based on an odor, it’s better to avoid unwanted attention.
- If you do smoke cannabis or consume edibles before your flight, don’t overdo it. Just like you can be deplaned for being too drunk, being too high will land you in the same situation. If you do feel that you’ve consumed too much, change your clothes and get your hands on some eye drops to help make any visible indicators of being high a little less obvious.
- Check your bag to make sure you don’t have any bud or edibles floating around in there. Again, the TSA are not looking for these items but, if they find them, they’ll probably hand you off to a local police officer.
- Lastly, if you are stopped because something was found in your bag or you are accused of being too high to fly, cooperate with authorities. Nothing can make a bad situation worse faster than by being unnecessarily belligerent or combative with a TSA agent.