Travelers are still not permitted to bring marijuana through airport Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, the agency said, even as President Biden signaled a softer stance on the drug Thursday in a sweeping grant of clemency.
The TSA’s core mission is the safety of aviation, so its security officers and its bomb-sniffing dogs are not actively looking for marijuana or other drugs, spokeswoman Alexa Lopez said. But if the agency does happen upon an illegal substance in a traveler’s luggage, the passenger will not be allowed to bring it beyond the checkpoint.
What happens next depends on the airport, reflecting the growing patchwork of different laws and jurisdictions when it comes to policing marijuana. While the TSA is a federal agency, it often works with local law enforcement to investigate suspected crimes, so local laws matter.
In a state where marijuana possession is legal, Lopez said a passenger found with a small amount in a carry-on bag will typically be allowed to dispose of it. The discovery of larger amounts might lead to police being called. Either way, Lopez said: “If found, it cannot go through the checkpoint.”
And in states where marijuana remains criminalized, TSA officers refer the discovery of drugs to police.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, a prohibition that covers transporting it between two states, even if they both have legalized the substance.
Experts offered advice for the best course of action: If flying, leave the marijuana at home.