TSA Backtracks On Medical Marijuana Policy Change
TSA updated its site again to re-add information about medical marijuana, but this time it has a big red “No” instead of a green “Yes.”
We’ve edited the headline of this story accordingly.
Following publication of this story, TSA removed marijuana from its new webpage and posted a tweet saying that a “mistake was made.”
@cannaadvisors We’re sorry for any confusion. A mistake was made in the database of our new “What can I bring?” tool.
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) April 5, 2017
The cached version of the page still shows the marijuana information.
It’s official: The federal government doesn’t care if you bring medical marijuana on airplanes.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has specifically marked medical cannabis with a big green “Yes” on its new “What Can I Bring?” webpage:
“TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs,” the page says. “In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
That means that depending on what state they are traveling from, patients might have to show their official ID cards or doctors’ recommendations to local cops, but then they’ll be able to travel on their way.
It has been known for some time that a number of airports in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal have taken a mostly hands-off approach to cannabis, and TSA has often tweeted in response to passenger questions that that it “has no regulations on transporting marijuana.”
@kifoolio While we have no regulations on transporting marijuana, possession is a crime under Federal law. 1/2
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) March 29, 2017
@kifoolio Our officers aren't looking for illegal narcotics, but they have to report them to law enforcement when discovered. 2/2
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) March 29, 2017
But the new “What Can I Bring?” page, uploaded on Tuesday, is the TSA’s clearest indication yet that you can carry cannabis on flights.
The new page replaces TSA’s less-friendly-sounding “Prohibited Items” page, which didn’t mention marijuana at all.
Separately, the agency’s older My TSA app addressed how its agents handle cannabis:
On the new page, items like breast milk, eye drops and salad dressing are marked with a yellow “special instructions” indicator, but medical marijuana is not.
While it has a poor reputation among many liberty lovers due to its intensive security checkpoint screening policies, TSA is by far one of the more friendly federal agencies when it comes to marijuana, a substance that remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act for all use despite the growing number of states that are ending prohibition.
Late last year, TSA clarified that being a medical marijuana patient is not disqualifying for enrolling in its Pre✓ program that allows expedited access through airport security.
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) December 26, 2016
On the new site, TSA lists a number of common federally-legal products as treated more restrictively than medical marijuana, including alcoholic beverages over 140 proof, bottled water, corkscrews, liquid bleach, recreational oxygen and, of course the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone.
It is unclear if TSA considers state-legal recreational marijuana as cleared for takefoff along with medical cannabis, but its previous statements suggest that it will continue to refer drugs its agents discover to local law enforcement. In states that have enacted legalization, of course, cops can’t arrest people for possessing small amounts of cannabis.
It’s less of a settled question as to what happens if someone is traveling from a place where marijuana is legal to a place where it is not, but a spokesman for the Los Angeles Airport Police recently indicated that at LAX it doesn’t matter where a passenger is heading.
“We don’t have the power to enforce the federal law,” he said.
Following a lawsuit from a passenger who wasn’t allowed to fly with marijuana, the Anchorage International Airport in Alaska enacted a new policy late last year allowing the carrying of recreational cannabis for both in-state and out-of-state travel.
But at Portland International Airport, the policy is that while medical cannabis patients can bring their medicine anywhere, recreational marijuana is “not permitted to be transported out of Oregon.”
The policy is even more strict at Denver International Airport in Colorado, which bans marijuana altogether and makes no apparent exception for medical cannabis.
So while some marijuana issues will be handled on an airport-by-airport basis, the TSA’s new cannabis clarification represents the Trump administration’s first official move on marijuana, and it’s a positive one.
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