Flying with medical or recreational marijuana, even from one legalized state to another, is still illegal because the feds are in charge of the skies. When you are sky high (i.e., 30,000 feet above terra firma), you are not at liberty to transport or consume cannabis.
“Possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products, such as CBD oil, is illegal under federal law. Our officers are not looking for illegal narcotics, but they have to report them to law enforcement when discovered. Having a state-issued cannabis card or other documentation indicating that the marijuana or cannabis-infused products are for medical purposes does not exempt you from compliance with federal law,” said Michelle M. Negron, Assistant Press Secretary for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
(A passenger can, however, fly with antlers, even though being impaled by antlers that may fall from an overhead bin is a freak accident waiting to happen.)
The issue of not being able to travel with medical marijuana has been vigorously contended with by supporters of “medical refugees,” such as Alexis Bortell. Bortell is a plaintiff in the landmark Washington V Sessions case, where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the federal government were sued, in part for violating her constitutional right to travel with her medicine.
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Bortell has become the de facto, literal poster child for medical marijuana refugees. Neither she or her parents can legally travel with the marijuana oil necessary to prevent her seizures. When she travels in interstate commerce, leaves Colorado to return home to visit relatives in Texas, goes to see national monuments, parks, or even lobbies Congress on her behalf and that of other medical refugees, her medicine has to stay home.
“It should be legal for patients to fly [with their medicine] as the constitution says that one state should give ‘full faith and credit’ to the laws of other states which permits an out of state patient to carry their medicine with them. In theory, Colorado’s medical patients should have their patient status and their medicine recognized and permitted in other states. As such, federal law should be changed to allow medical marijuana patients to travel with their medication in interstate commerce even into states where it is not yet legal.” said attorney David Holland, Director of Empire State NORML.
Vaping during a flight is also prohibited, and the Federal Aviation Administration recently notified airlines that the lithium batteries used in vape pens are fire hazards and should not be packed in checked baggage.
Intra-state Carrying Is Questionable
United Patients Group reports that it is legal to fly with medical marijuana intra-state in California. According to their website, “Medical marijuana patients have been able to fly domestically with their medicine when leaving several California airports, as long as they are carrying (the state legal limit of) eight ounces or less of dried marijuana or equivalent in cannabis product.
Related Story: Flying With Legal Weed: Does The TSA Care About Marijuana?
The TSA, however, refutes that assertion. “The passenger’s originating and destination airports are not taken into account,” said TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers, according to USA Today. “TSA’s response to the discovery of marijuana is the same in every state and at every airport — regardless of whether marijuana has been or is going to be legalized.”
Either way, the most TSA agents can do if cannabis is inadvertently discovered, is to inform law enforcement, and it’s up to their discretion whether or not to do so.
Don’t Be A Glasshole
Even though marijuana is entirely legal in California, when Southwest Airlines passenger Edmund Lo sparked a Dutch in the bathroom on his flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the captain diverted the plane to San Jose for an emergency landing. Lo was led off the plane by the authorities. He wasn’t arrested; however, the 32 other passengers whose lives he upended were probably not amused by his glasshole antics. (Glasshole: A person who thinks their right to imbibe or consume supersedes good manners, fair play, and common sense.) Perhaps Lo didn’t get the memo that puffing in an airplane lavatory is strictly prohibited.