The July 4 weekend will kick off the first summer travel season since California voted to join seven other states in legalizing marijuana for all adults. What’s more, there are now 30 states where medical marijuana is allowed, with a couple more close to coming on board.
So, as vacationers prepare to hit the road, many have a simple question: How can we legally mix travel and weed?
“We have been getting lots of calls about this issue recently,” said Nico Melendez, spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.
In California, the rules on traveling with cannabis are evolving. And conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws – and how rules are enforced among the various states or even one airport vs. another – are causing confusion.
For recreational consumers of cannabis, the simple answer is to leave weed at home and, if desired, to unwind with a cocktail. But for medical patients who aren’t able to take along specific strains or cannabis products they use daily to combat symptoms of an illness or chronic pain, summer travel could be anything but simple.
Here’s a closer look at what the law says, how the rules are actually playing out and what experts recommend to stay safe and legal.
It’s never legal to fly with cannabis, even if you’re traveling within a legal-weed state like California or between states that both permit marijuana. Air travel falls under federal jurisdiction, and under federal law it remains illegal to possess or transport any amount of cannabis.
That said, TSA searchers aren’t looking for marijuana.
“We’re looking for items that will bring down an airplane,” Melendez said, referring to explosives or weapons.
Of course, TSA officers still stumble upon marijuana during routine searches of passengers and bags. Hence the bevy of products (everything from hollow hair brushes and jars of peanut butter) and online cheat sheets aimed at helping people hide cannabis.
When TSA officers…