The new year will bring new rules for travelers moving through Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, where local police now say they will begin looking the other way when it comes to cannabis in carry-on bags.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, when the new year officially begins, and Illinois welcomes legal cannabis, airport cops will start to turn a blind eye to passengers carrying personal quantities of pot through the travel hub. And while local cops would prefer that high flyers leave their weed in the Windy City, the state’s impending adult-use laws do not draw an imaginary line at the TSA checkpoint.
“To ensure safe travel for all travelers, we’re encouraging all travelers not to bring cannabis through Chicago airports as it remains illegal under federal law,” Chicago police commander William Mullane said. “[But if travelers are] within the guidelines of our current statute, starting January 1, we can’t enforce anything. If they’re legal, they’re legal.”
At all airports across the country, TSA guidelines do not mandate any search for drugs or drug paraphernalia. But if weed is found, the federal officers simply refer the incident to local police. And as long as the amount on hand is less than the allowed state carry limit, the passenger will be allowed to depart with their dank.
“If it is not a violation of the statute or ordinance, we would offer them a proper disposal of the cannabis if they wish, or they could continue on with their travels,” Mullane told the Sun-Times.
In other legal weed hotspots like Las Vegas and Denver, airports have installed anonymous cannabis disposal boxes outside of departing gates and even passed specific rules to ban marijuana from airport property. Still, other airports are taking the same hands off approach as their Chicago counterparts.
Of course, the new legal weed stipulations at Chicago airports will not extend to international flyers, who are required to pass through a much stricter customs checkpoint before arriving at their final destination. International travelers could still face severe penalties for carrying cannabis on their trip.
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