Late last month, a written policy posted by airport police at Los Angeles International Airport states personal amounts of marijuana can be brought into LAX. However, authorities are warning that possession of any amount of marijuana is still illegal under federal law, can may result in criminal charges should TSA agents discover travelers with pot.
The announcement that cannabis can now be brought into one of the world’s busiest airports speaks to the state of California’s current legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana for adults ages 21 and over. Though marijuana may be legal in California, it’s classification as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law means you can still face charges for a federal crime, even for possession.
According to TSA officials, agents who find marijuana on travelers going through security checks will not take it away from them. Instead, they will contact police who will be tasked with making decisions about what should happen to passengers. As TSA has reiterated, their focus is on security threats, terrorism, and the safety of passengers and aircrafts, not crimes of simple possession or issues pertaining to pot.
Whether passengers with marijuana will be allowed to travel after being stopped for marijuana will be up to the discretion of law enforcement. Travelers with legal quantities (i.e. less than an ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis) will be turned loose, according to airport police, as there isn’t a crime.
Though passengers may not get in trouble for pot at LAX, airport police are reminding them that marijuana laws vary by state, that few airports have similar policies, and that marijuana is still federally illegal. They are also reiterating hat air travel is governed by federal authorities. If it common in many states where marijuana is legal that TSA and local airport police will ask a person with marijuana to simply discard it and continue through security if the amount in their possession is small.
The conflicting legality of marijuana remains a considerable issue for law enforcement and law-abiding citizens who use cannabis lawfully under state laws. Still, experts recommend that it is best to avoid contact with law enforcement over pot, potential criminal penalties, or simply time-consuming issues that may cause one to miss their flight due to cannabis being found.
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have seen the evolution of marijuana laws in California, as well as the ways in which various enforcement and security agencies across the state handle matters involving pot. If you or someone you love has been arrested for a marijuana-related drug crime, including a federal crime or any offense at an airport, our team is here to help you navigate the maze of conflicting laws and protect your rights as you navigate the criminal justice system.
For a free and confidential consultation, contact us today. We proudly serve clients throughout Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and beyond.