You can now fly with marijuana in New York State.
Now that marijuana is legal for recreational and medicinal purposes in many states, including New York, TSA and Albany International Airport has changed its rules on the arrest and confiscation of marijuana.
Albany International is not the only airport in the state of New York to adapt to the marijuana changes, as all airports in the state have made the same changes to policies.
As the rules of marijuana are changing, so must the law enforcement procedures at airports.
When a passenger is pat down for security purposes, the agents will no longer be looking to find marijuana, rather, they will look and focus on more threatening objects, such as guns, knives, and even bombs.
A former New York State Police colonel, Bart Johnson, has stated all agents will focus on more dire and crucial offenses. Johnson is also the federal security director of over 15 airports located upstate, including Albany International, and the same policies will go through all airports.
The agents will look for threats including, but not limited to: explosives, guns, and knives, rather than narcotics of any kind.
During many routine pat-downs, an agent might find marijuana on a passenger. As long as the amount of marijuana held is less than three ounces, the officer will give back the marijuana.
Marijuana is no longer considered a threat to the public. However, if a passenger has something that is infused with marijuana, that is not legal to carry, and the agent will take proper legal steps in this kind of matter. If an illegal substance is found, the agent will contact law enforcement.
Craig Apple, Sheriff of the police department that patrols the Albany airport, said incidences of police officers being called by the Transportation Security Administration officials have gone down when it comes to marijuana and passengers carrying marijuana.
If a passenger is carrying anything less than three full ounces, no ticket will be written and the marijuana will be given directly back to the passenger, with no charges.
These new procedures are far off from the times when officers would arrest any passenger who would carry any amount of marijuana into the airport.
In the past, agents and officers would make dozens of arrests and issue tickets regularly. The tickets issued for the offense was for unlawful possession of marijuana at the airport.
Apple was quoted saying, “We don’t take it anymore. It’s legal if not more than three ounces, and, well, have a nice day.”
The TSA is a state-run organization and not considered to be a law enforcement agency.
Even though marijuana, medical or recreational, is still illegal at the federal level, the law does not apply at the state level. The difference in law is what led to the changes in marijuana policies at the airports. With the changes to the marijuana policy, the TSA is still required to notify proper law enforcement if they find an illegal substance on a passenger.
In 2019, TSA even took to Instagram to release a post that hinted that they were going to become more tolerant around the issue of marijuana.
On the Instagram post, TSA wanted to let everyone know that they were becoming more “cool,” and at the same time put out the message that you should not fly with infused marijuana products saying, “But getting caught while trying to fly with marijuana or cannabis-infused products can really harsh your mellow”. The TSA also added some hashtags to the post that is part of the marijuana movement as well as a hashtag about travel tips.
TSA was attempting to be as clear and precise about the change of policies at the airport. In light of the discrepancy between federal and state laws on marijuana, TSA is clear on their stance.
The Instagram post continued and went on to state that TSA officers would not only no longer search for marijuana, but also illegal drugs of any kind.
Related: Legislative Update for NY