The number of people arrested for trying to sneak cannabis onto interstate flights has seen a big jump over the past year in California.
A lot more people are trying to fly with weed now that the substance has been legalized for adult use in the Golden State—and a lot more of them are getting caught too. Arrests for attempted interstate trafficking of cannabis has risen by 166 percent just at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) alone.
Experts are blaming the spike on the oversaturation of California's state-legalized cannabis market. Basically, there are too many businesses competing for a finite amount of revenue, so some illicit growers are looking outside the state for business opportunities.
"Since pot's been legalized in California, there's no money to be made because everyone got involved in it," criminal defense lawyer Bill Kroger Jr. told the Los Angeles Times. "The money is outside of California."
But not everyone caught with cannabis at LAX can be linked to a drug-trafficking ring. Many travelers simply don't know that they're supposed to leave their stash at home when traveling out of state. That's why officials say they "anticipated" the increase in cannabis seizures since legalization became law.
"I don't think we're surprised by the numbers. These are things we foresaw and we've warned folks about," said Kyle Mori of the DEA Los Angeles office. "When states legalize it, you give folks a false sense of security that they can come through TSA checkpoints."
It's not surprising that many people are confused about the state's cannabis laws. While marijuana is fully legal for adults in California, it remains banned on the federal level, meaning you can't legally transport even small amounts across state borders without breaking trafficking laws.
At LAX, most of the people getting caught with cannabis aren't carrying much more than what would be considered personal use amounts in the state (28.5 grams). Of the 508 reports of cannabis being discovered in a traveler's bags, only 101 of those were treated as trafficking cases. Many other times the cannabis is simply confiscated and the individual is let off with a warning.
And if you're only carrying 28.5 grams of cannabis or less, LAX officials won't do anything at all, according to this report.