Despite being medicinally legal in 23 states and completely legal in four states, there is still one place where marijuana has failed to make a breakthrough: airlines. Regardless of legal states’ rights, citizens have been unable to legally take marijuana with them on an airplane, but that is about to change.
Following upon the heels of marijuana becoming officially legal in Oregon, Portland International Airport is now displaying signs that tell passengers, “Please be advised recreational marijuana is not permitted on flights traveling outside of Oregon,” meaning passengers flying in-state won’t be subject to such rules.
Although marijuana is illegal on a federal level, the TSA’s mission is to screen for threats to aviation security, not look for illegal drugs. Furthermore, despite vigorous debate, the TSA is not a law enforcement agency.
According to NBC News, passengers will now be able to carry up to an ounce of marijuana on an in-state flight. If PDX security finds marijuana on a passenger, TSA will notify Port Police and they will make sure the passenger is of legal age to possess the marijuana and is not flying out of state.
If airport security finds marijuana on a passenger flying out of state, the passenger has the option of securing the marijuana in a safe place before departing, like your car or with someone at least 21 years old who is not traveling out of state. This change in policy is in stark contrast with other states that allow marijuana use.
Airports in Colorado have uniformly banned possession of marijuana on airport premises, with differing levels of enforcement.
For example, Denver International Airport imposes a fine of $999 for marijuana possession; Colorado Springs Airport offers amnesty boxes for people to dispose of their marijuana and Telluride Regional Airport has signs that threaten passengers with federal prosecution if caught with marijuana.
Fox News 12 spoke with some airline passengers about their thoughts on the new policy. “I don’t care if they got it in their pocket. I could care less as long as they can’t smoke it in the airport, you can’t smoke it in the airplane. So depends if wherever they’re going if it’s legal, that’s fine with me,” said Arnold Lucht.
While there are some that may see PDX’s policy change as a small concession that means little, the truth is that a big step has been made for the industry.
If PDX’s new policy is successful, with success being defined as no smuggling incidences, the other airports in the nation might follow suit, creating a ripple effect that could positively impact the marijuana industry.