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Sunday, October 13, 2013

TSA Not Looking To Bust Passengers For Marijuana

Since laws are rapidly changing regarding the legal use of marijuana, the Transportation Safety Administration is having a hard time deciding whether it allows Arline passengers to fly with pot.

So the question is should you keep calm and carry it on?

Since TSA is a federal agency it still has to enforce federal law. Even though medical marijuana has been legalized in 20 states, and two states allow the recreational use of cannabis, weed remains illegal on a federal level.

On TSA's website they make it clear that its agents are not actively searching for the drug."TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. 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," the TSA website states. "Whether or not marijuana is considered 'medical marijuana' under local law its not relevant to TSA screening because TSA is governed by federal law and federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana."

If marijuana is discovered in a carry-on or checked bag, it doesn't mean that the person will be turned over to local police. The agency adds that "the final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane"

In 2011, TSA agents at Denver International Airport agents found a small bag of weed in rapper Freddie Gibbs’ luggage and simply left him a chiding note reading “C’mon son.”

Quantity may be the key to the TSA’s response. On Sept. 25, TSA agents at Los Angeles International Airport discovered 100 pounds of pot in a passenger’s checked luggage.“The bags were going through the screening process,” TSA spokesman Nico Melendez told the Daily Breeze. “There was some sort of alarm, and we had to open the bag. We found these big packages of what turned out to be marijuana wrapped up to look like a birthday gift.”

Valued at $300,000, the marijuana was promptly turn over to DEA agents and the LAPD, though the owner of the drug was not located.

In some states where medical marijuana is legal, passengers have reported presenting their paperwork to TSA agents, who have allowed them to continue onto flights with their pot. That hesitance to intervene has marijuana rights advocates smiling.

“I’m delighted to hear that because I think it shows that TSA primarily is acting as it was intended when it was established, to protect all of us when we travel on the airlines and to thwart terrorists. It is not supposed to be an anti-drug agency,” Keith Stroup, an attorney and founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws told “What nobody feels 100 percent comfortable with is it’s a grey zone you’re going through. It’s technically still illegal even though they aren’t enforcing it very strongly.”

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