The Rules for Taking Marijuana on an Airplane

January 24th 2016

Thor Benson

Several states have legalized marijuana, and it looks like many more might be on the way, but can you fly from one state where it's legal to another with your marijuana? We spoke to a law expert about this question.

Is it legal?

"No it's not, actually," Franklin Snyder, a professor at Texas A&M University School of Law and a marijuana law blogger, told ATTN:. "Both Washington and Oregon have laws prohibiting bringing marijuana into the state, and it's actually an additional federal criminal violation to carry marijuana across state lines."

Since interstate transportation of substances is a federal issue, and marijuana is illegal on a federal level, taking marijuana from one state to another is always illegal at this point. But there are ways this could be changed.

"One of the rules that the Justice Department and the DEA have for not interfering with the state marijuana programs is that the state work to avoid having the marijuana be taken out of the state," Snyder said. He said the most likely way to change that regulation is to take marijuana off the Controlled Substances Act.

That being said, just because something is technically illegal doesn't mean law enforcement is, well, enforcing the law. "There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that if the TSA at the Denver, Colorado airport find marijuana they just take it and throw it away, as opposed to prosecuting people," Snyder said.

A blog post on The Weed Blog claims one person got through TSA with a quarter pound of marijuana on a flight from Oregon to Colorado, and the TSA simply didn't care that they had it. That said, Snyder said it's best not to risk it.

police pull over

Snyder said he hasn't seen a ton of reports of people getting caught transporting marijuana across state lines in their car.

"We don't see a lot of enforcement of that," he said. "As in the case of cigarettes, where you have grossly disproportionate taxes between New York and Virginia, people buying smokes in Virginia to import them to New York are breaking the law when they sell them there." But pretty much no one's going to jail for that.

One of the interesting problems that's already arisen can be seen at the Oregon/Washington border. A lot of people live in Portland, Oregon and work in Vancouver, Washington, or vice versa, and some of them work in the weed industry. That makes it very complicated when it comes to avoiding transporting marijuana across state lines. He said that when smaller, closely packed states on the East Coast start legalizing, it could become even more complicated.

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