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We Asked the TSA About the LAX Marijuana Policy - This is What We Learned

As of January 2018, cannabis has been legal in California for both recreational cannabis users, medicinal cannabis users, and business class users, because the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is part of the legal state. According to LAX's cannabis policy, "California’s passage of proposition 64, effective January 1, 2018, allows for individuals 21 years of age or older to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana for personal consumption."

The airport's policy also mentions that cannabis is still illegal under federal law, so we contacted the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) press contact and asked him if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would stop someone who attempted to go through security with the legally allowed amount of cannabis.

This is what he said: "It is my understanding that is not against the city ordinance. But, if TSA spots something, then they could bring over the LAX police."

We then were directed to the LAXPD, so we asked them the same question and this is what they said: "If TSA calls LAXPD and our investigation determines the amount to be within what is allowable per law, there is no crime to pursue. No action taken by PD."

According to the LAXPD, the TSA has jurisdiction over the security checkpoint, but if the TSA discovers cannabis (recreational or medicinal) during their screening process, they refer the matter to law enforcement. Even if the amount is acceptable under LAX's policy, the TSA's response to finding cannabis is the same in every state and at every airport, regardless of the state's individual cannabis laws. This is because the TSA's primary purpose is safety, "TSA’s focus is on terrorism and security threats to the aircraft and its passengers. TSA’s screening procedures, which are governed by federal law, are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers."

When the TSA calls the LAXPD for cannabis possession, the traveler's originating and destination airports are not taken into account when deciding whether or not passengers can travel with cannabis. Once the LAXPD clears passengers to travel, it is crucial that they are aware of the laws in the state or country they plan to travel to, since cannabis laws vary depending on where you are.

So what does this all mean?

Our takeaway: it appears the TSA will allow travelers to go through the security checkpoint because the LAXPD said that no action will be taken if they determine the amount is within what's allowed by law.

Don't light up that LAXPD-approved cannabis until you land though, because the in-flight smoke detector policy still remains the same regardless of state legalization.


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