Avoidable marijuana risks

There are three kinds of risks that airline passengers face when they decide to travel to either Colorado, Oregon, or the state of Washington to legally consume recreational marijuana (cannabis):

  1. Unwanted side effects from consuming marijuana,
  2. Violating airline regulations or federal laws while traveling with marijuana,
  3. Violating state or local laws while in a state that allows the purchase and use of recreational marijuana.

These marijuana-related risks are similar to many other air travel risks in that they have two parts, some kind of negative consequence that you want to avoid, and a situation that makes it possible for that hazard to occur. When it comes to medical marijuana, there are things you can do to reduce or eliminate your risks in all three of these areas.

Dealing with unwanted side effects
Unwanted side effets typically occur for one of two reasons, over consumption by experienced marijuana users, and unexpected reactions by first time or novice users.

If your are a novice user, meaning someone who has either never used marijuana, have not used marijuana in several years, or is using marijuana in a new way (for example, if you are a smoker who is trying edible marijuana), then the best way to limit bad side effects is to start with very small doses.

If you are an experienced user, you should know your limits and plan to indulge responsibly.

For both novice and experienced users, perhaps the best way to reduce the danger from unwanted side effects is to not indulge alone and to plan to have at least one person in your group not indulge in marijuana, alcohol, or any other substance that may cloud that person's judgment.


Dealing with airline regulations and federal laws
With respect to marijuana, it is very easy to stay within airline regulations and federal laws. You just have to be sure to do three things:

  1. Don't consume marijuana before your trip: If you are visibly intoxicated, either TSA or the airline may prevent you from boarding the aircraft. Also, if you consume edible marijuana, the intoxicating effects may be delayed long enough for you to make it past security, but the effects may hit you by the time you board the aircraft.
  2. Don't bring any kind of marijuana to the airport: Federal laws and regulations are very clear about marijuana. You are not allowed to take marijuana in the secure part of the terminal beyond the TSA screening areas transport marijuana on an aircraft, either on your person, in your carry-on bags, or in your checked luggage.
  3. Don't plan on mailing or shipping your marijuana: You can't legally mail your marijuana, or ship it using a private company like UPS or FedEx.

Following state and local laws
The state laws in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington concerning recreational marijuana are very similar. If you plan to travel to either state to consume recreational marijuana, you should be aware of these basic limitations:

  • Only adults 21 and over can legally purchase and consume recreational marijuana.
  • You can only consume marijuana within that state.
  • You can legally purchase marijuana from state-licensed retail shops.
  • Resale is not permitted, but you can give it away to adults 21 or over.
  • You can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana or its equivalent.
  • You can't consume marijuana in public.

In addition to these general limits, each state may have additional restrictions. For example, some local communities may not allow any retail marijuana shops. Also, some airports, most notably the Denver and Colorado Springs airports, ban marijuana from all areas of the airport, not just the secure areas beyond the TSA screening areas.

Because laws and regulations may change frequently, you should take the time to review local and state laws. Recreational marijuana retail shops may have this kind of useful information either in their shops or on their web sites.


Other marijuana resources

Avoidable marijuana risks
http://airsafe.com/issues/marijuana/risks.htm -- Revised 1 October 2015