California decriminalized possession and consumption of recreational marijuana and cannabis products in January 2018, and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) recently became the largest airport in the world to officially permit people to carry cannabis on its property.
An airport statement says that as California peace officers, LAX airport police “have no jurisdiction to arrest individuals if they are complying with state law.” California law permits “individuals 21 years of age or older to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and eight grams of concentrated marijuana for personal consumption.”
Although the rules at LAX are getting, well, more lax, there are few things this policy does not mean.
First, it’s still illegal to transport weed through airport security because, the airport says, “Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening stations are under federal jurisdiction.”
The TSA website notes that no marijuana of any kind is permitted in through airport security. While “TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs,” it says, “in the event a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
The Cannifornian, which covers cannabis policy in the Golden State, writes that “Attorney General Jeff Sessions [the United States’ chief law enforcement official] has made no secret of the fact that he dislikes marijuana.”
Currently, marijuana laws across the US are a patchwork of different regulations and can vary among between states and even cities. Cannabis is legal for medical use in 30 US states and nine states permit its recreational use.
The LAX policy also does not mean that you can toke up at the airport. “State law says no one can consume marijuana in public, even in areas where it’s legal to smoke cigarettes,” says the Cannifornian. “That means no smoking on the streets, in bars, in parks, etc.,” it says, and by extension, airport smoking zones. “Anyone caught smoking weed in public faces a fine of $100 to $250.”
With annual passenger traffic of about 84.5 million people, in 2017 LAX was the second busiest airport in America and fifth busiest in the world, according to Airports Council International. Marijuana is illegal in the jurisdictions of the other four largest airports: Atlanta, Beijing, Dubai and Tokyo.
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