Additional restrictions on non-US citizens
US visitors who are not US citizens may be refused entry if their stated reason for coming to the US is to purchase or consume marijuana, or to conduct activities such as attending a marijuana-related conference or business meeting. They may also be denied entry if they are involved in a marijuana-related industry in their home country, even if that industry is legal in their home country.
The TSA and marijuana
The TSA is not a law enforcement agency, and the TSA has stated that its security officers do not specifically search for illegal drugs. If a marijuana-related item is discovered, even in states where marijuana is legal, TSA’s policy is to refer the matter to law enforcement to make a determination on how to proceed.
These travelers may be refused entry or have restrictions placed on future travel to the US. If you are a non-US citizen traveling to the US, you should understand the laws that customs officials will enforce.
In a number of US states and the entire nation of Canada any adult is able ot purchase small amounts of marijuana (cannabis), without any prescription, license, or other special permission.
These legal purchases are available not only to citizens and residents of the US and Canada, but to anyone visiting any location in these two countries where recreational marijuana can be purchased or consumed.
Key things to know about the US
Marijuana is legal in some states, but is not legal on the federal level. Because aviation is regulated at the federal level, very strict federal laws and regulations still apply to marijuana when it comes to US air travel either on domestic flights within the US or on international flights flying to or from the US. Some of the key US laws and regulations are summarized below:
Although marijuana laws and regulations have changed in some US states and in the nation of Canada, the laws in these two countries are very different, and because of those differences, any domestic air traveler in either country, or any international traveler going to or from either country, should be aware of the relevant laws, regulations, and limitations.
As far as marijuana is concerned, its legal status is confusing for many in the United States. The issue of bringing cannabis on an airplane is a perfect case in point. It is a federally illegal substance like heroin. Consequently, one would assume that carrying it onboard an aircraft is a prohibited act.
Cannabis has been legal for recreational use in California since January 1, 2018. On the same day, LAX updated its marijuana policy. According to the airport’s official website, Los Angeles Airport Police Division (LAPD) officers have no jurisdiction to arrest anyone in possession of marijuana. That is, as long as you carry it following state law.
Marijuana & Airplanes – The Law in General
Yet even then, the issue is far from cut and dried. The TSA is tasked with keeping planes and passengers secure. They are far more concerned about finding explosive devices than marijuana.
The likely response depends on the airport rather than the state. At Denver International Airport, for example, marijuana is banned anywhere on airport property. It is a very different story at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
It is a felony to transport ‘for-sale’ weed outside a state according to most states’ laws. It is also a federally illegal act. If you are caught with a large amount, you could spend several years in prison. The majority of cases that end up in court are tried on a state level. This is better news for the defendant because it increases the chances of a favorable outcome.