Illinois’ new era of legal weed means travelers passing through Chicago airports don’t need to worry about TSA if they’re holding. But if you don’t feel like taking your pot on the plane, well, that’s cool, too.
Local officials announced this week that so-called “cannabis amnesty boxes” have been installed at O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport. Positioned at each airport’s TSA checkpoints, the boxes will serve as a receptacle for travelers who would like to ditch their marijuana products before boarding.
“We’re not encouraging people to bring cannabis through the airports at all,” Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Maggie Huynh said, as quoted by the Chicago Tribune. “But if for some reason you have it on you, we have those amnesty boxes out there so that you can dispose of it prior to getting on the airplane.”
Illinois’ new law, which took effect on New Year’s Day, permits adults aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana. The law, signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last summer, will also result in the pardons of more than 100,000 individuals previously convicted of low-level, non-violent marijuana offenses. Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Travelers Still Advised Not To Bring Cannabis To Airports
The Transportation Security Administration, created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, has said that its screening procedures are focused on identifying potential threats and that officials do not search for cannabis or other federally illegal drugs. However, the agency has said that “in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement.”
In that spirit, TSA said last month that it would defer to local police in Chicago on such matters; local police, in turn, said they wouldn’t bother anyone in possession of marijuana as long as they are within the guidelines of the statute.
That said, law enforcement is still encouraging travelers to leave the weed at home.
“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 last month.
Legal weed is off to a roaring start in Illinois, with the first week of sales generating nearly $11 million and several shops already running out of products. One dispensary has even put a hold on selling recreational weed so that cannabis can go towards medical marijuana patients.