Adult-use cannabis will officially be legal in Illinois in less than two weeks, and passengers flying out of Peoria's international airport will be granted the freedom to travel with legal pot on their flights.
This week, the Peoria General Wayne A. Downing Airport board of commissioners voted to allow passengers to carry cannabis in their luggage. Passengers who want to fly with weed may still have to deal with the cops, however. If Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials discover pot, they will notify local cops, who will ensure that the total amount of weed complies with the state's legal weed limit.
“[In] other states where this has been legalized the law enforcement officer usually makes a determination as to whether it’s a legally allowable amount,” said Gene Olson, Director of Airports for the Downing Airport, to CIProud. “If it is less than the amount that [is] legally allowed then that’s pretty much the end of it in most states.”
In accordance with this policy, any passenger found with 30 grams or less of correctly-packaged pot will be allowed to continue on their journey with their stash intact.
Of course, Peoria's new policy affords no protection to anyone who brings their weed on a flight to a country or state that still prohibits weed. Olson noted that it is the traveler's responsibility to ensure that adult-use weed is legal at their final destination. Smoking pot in the airport will also remain prohibited, as the state's adult-use law bans public weed consumption.
Other Illinois airports are discouraging passengers from flying high, however. As the holiday rush begins, airport officials are warning travelers not to bring pot to O'Hare, Midway, or other airports across the state. "To ensure safe travel for all residents and visitors, we're encouraging all travelers not to bring cannabis through Chicago's airports as it still remains illegal under federal law," said Chicago Police Commander William Mullane, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
Like in Peoria, TSA officials at other airports will call the cops if they catch a passenger with weed. Police will encourage passengers to chuck their weed into the trash, but they cannot legally force any adult to give up their weed, as long as it is under the legal limit. "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 said.
"Our officers are not looking for any cannabis as they go through their normal security duties," said Louis Traverzo of the TSA, ABC reports. "But should they come across it, we are going to contact the Chicago Police Department to make a final determination on the disposition."
The legality of flying with weed in adult-use states remains a bit hazy, as all airports are still subject to federal law. Las Vegas' largest airport allows cops to cite passengers caught with weed, and has set out amnesty boxes allowing flyers to dispose of their pot. Florida cops have been using the “odor of weed” as an excuse to seize cash from passengers, and Denver cops have been arresting travelers for bringing federally-legal CBD products with them.
The TSA is finally allowing hemp and CBD products to pass through airports, and Canada now allows pot on domestic flights – but the legal grey area created by federal prohibition means that travelers wishing to fly with their stash still need to exercise caution.