Can I Fly with Marijuana if It’s Legal?

by | Jul 11, 2019 | Criminal Defense, Marijuana Prohibition |

Can I fly with marijuana if it’s legal?

A surprising number of people try to board planes at the Myrtle Beach airport with marijuana in their baggage or even in their pockets… what happens when TSA agents find their stash?

When someone tries to fly with marijuana, are they arrested? Do they just confiscate the weed? Does it matter if the marijuana is in edibles like brownies or candy? What if you have a medical marijuana card and you need the weed for a medical condition?

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana while trying to board a plane at the Myrtle Beach airport, we want to help – call the Myrtle Beach marijuana defense lawyers at Coastal Law now for a free consultation.

Is it Legal to Fly with Marijuana? 

Marijuana is now legal in at least 29 states and Washington, D.C. It’s a moving target because, every year, more jurisdictions take the plunge and legalize the plant either for recreational or medical purposes.

This nationwide patchwork of very different marijuana laws that range from no penalty to potential prison time for possession of marijuana makes it difficult for smokers who travel. If it’s legal in my home state, I have a prescription for marijuana to treat a medical condition, and I need it on a regular basis, why can’t I take it with me when I travel?

Is it Legal to Fly with Marijuana Under Federal Law? 

Possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Although the penalties are not as heavy as they would be for cocaine or heroin, marijuana is just as illegal as cocaine or heroin – federal law treats marijuana as a controlled substance with no medical value…

Airports are under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Although airports may be physically located in the middle of a state and the property may be owned by a municipality, it’s technically a “border.”

So, what happens if you are boarding the plane and a TSA agent pulls a small baggie of weed out of your pocketbook that you forgot was there?

It depends…

Ordinarily, you will not be charged federally for possessing a small amount of marijuana at the airport. Although it is a crime, you could be charged, and you might be charged, it’s just not worth the time and effort for the feds to prosecute minor marijuana offenses.

So, what happens?

What will TSA Agents do if They Find Marijuana in Your Baggage?

At some airports in marijuana-legal states, TSA agents will let you just toss the weed in an “amnesty box.” At other airports, TSA agents who find weed will turn you over to local law enforcement who are stationed at the airport. Then, what happens will depend on your state’s laws and local law enforcement policies.

What is an Amnesty Box? 

At some airports, TSA agents will tell you to just throw any prohibited items in the trash. At other airports, though, they have installed “amnesty boxes” where you can dump your left-over marijuana or edibles that you forgot in your bag…

Which airports have amnesty boxes? According to the article I linked to above, Sardy Fields and Colorado Springs airports and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas have installed amnesty boxes. Denver International Airport, on the other hand, has banned marijuana possession and refused to install amnesty boxes:

Sardy Field and Colorado Springs’ airport are the only ones in the state to have such boxes. While the drug is legal in Colorado, the feds still consider its possession to be a crime, and it is illegal to transport it through federal airspace or across state lines. Denver International Airport, also in early 2014, banned marijuana possession, and a spokesperson told The Cannabist news outlet in February that it feels no need for amnesty boxes, though there are trashcans at TSA checkpoints where people can dispose of restricted items. In fact, DIA saw so few encounters of flyers with cannabis that it no longer tracks such contacts, The Cannabist reported. The outlet also reported that McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, which legalized marijuana in July, installed 10 amnesty boxes.

So, if marijuana is illegal under federal law, how do I get my left-over marijuana home after I visit Colorado or Washington State?

Can I Fly with Marijuana from a Legal State to Another Legal State? 

Even if you are departing from a legal state and arriving in a legal state with no layovers, marijuana is still illegal under federal law and prohibited when you travel.

Will you be arrested? Maybenot, but why risk it?

How Can I Smuggle Marijuana Home from a Legal State? 

You don’t. 

If you are busted with a small amount of marijuana at the airport, they might let you toss it in the trash and go about your business. Or they could arrest you and charge you with a crime.

If you are busted with a large amount of marijuana at the airport, you are a drug trafficker. Neither the federal government nor state governments, including weed-legal states, look kindly on drug traffickers…

Is it Legal to Fly with Marijuana in SC? 

If TSA agents find a small amount of marijuana in your baggage or on your person in a state where marijuana is illegal, they will probably turn you over to the local authorities. At that point, what happens will depend on local laws and the policies of the local law enforcement agency.

In some states, marijuana possession is a crime punishable by a fine only. In other states, it is a non-criminal infraction. In either case, you probably would not be arrested for a small amount of marijuana.

In SC, however, marijuana possession is a crime punishable by jail time – up to 30 days for a first offense possession of less than an ounce, and longer sentences for anything over an ounce. If a TSA agent finds marijuana on you at an airport in SC, whether you are departing or arriving, you may be arrested and taken to jail – not a good way to start or end your vacation…

SC Marijuana Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach

If you have been charged with marijuana possession at the Myrtle Beach airport, the SC marijuana defense lawyersat Coastal Law will investigate your case, negotiate a dismissal or other resolution that you agree with, or take your case to trial.

Call now at (843) 488-5000 or send a message through the websiteto speak with a SC marijuana defense attorney today.

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Contact Coastal Law to discuss your situation.

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