For a very brief period Wednesday morning, the TSA made history and claimed that it was cool for you to bring your medical marijuana on a flight, either in checked or carry on bags. The announcement was made on the TSA’s website.
This change in policy was not only momentous for the TSA. This was actually the first time a federal agency had ever explicitly permitted the possession of medical cannabis, not to mention the carrying of that medical cannabis across state lines.
By noon, TSA had reversed its policy and reset it to pretty much what you would expect it to be. So what exactly happened?
At 9 AM PST Wednesday the surprising claim from the TSA was discovered by MassRoots. Here’s what it said on the “What Can I Bring?” page of the agency’s website at that time:
Carry on Baggage: Yes
Checked baggage: Yes
“TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
This was obviously confusing. So, medical cannabis was okay to bring on a plane and no one was looking for it, but if the TSA did accidentally find your stash they would have to call the cops?
By 10:55 AM PST the page had been changed, as discovered by the folks over at Leafly. In fact, it seems, that change may have actually be indirectly caused by the folks over at Leafly. According to their reporting, soon after the Leafly staff tried contacted TSA to see if their suddenly 420-friendly stance was for real, the entire section about medical marijuana had been removed from the TSA webpage.
Shortly after, the TSA changed their “What Can I Bring?” page again, this time reversing their stance on medical marijuana and adding clarification (sort of) to the section. The answer to could you bring medical marijuana in either carry on baggage or checked baggage was now a big bold type red-colored “No.”
The TSA’s previous statement was restored, with the following addition:
“Whether or not marijuana is considered legal under local law is not relevant to TSA screening because TSA is governed by federal law. Federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana.”
The TSA also attempted to directly clear this up, seeming to take a non-commitall stance to medical marijuana that basically said, “we’re not trying to bust you but if we find weed we’ll probably call the cops.” The agency’s wonderfully named public affairs rmanager Lorie Dankers wrote that, “There was an error in the database of the ‘What can I bring?’ tool that is now corrected,” and that, “TSA’s response to the discovery of marijuana is the same in every state and at every airport – regardless of whether marijuana has been legalized in a state.”
TSA’s focus, she said, was “on terrorism and security threats to the aircraft and its passengers,” but added that, “if during the security screening process an officer discovers an item that may violate the law, TSA refers the matter to law enforcement. Law enforcement officials will determine whether to initiate a criminal investigation or what steps – if any – will be taken.”