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TSA Screening Procedures

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TSA screening procedures are governed by federal law and designed primarily to detect threats to aviation security. TSA officers do not specifically search for illegal drugs. If an officer discovers an item that may violate the law during security screening, even in states where marijuana is legal, TSA will refer the matter to law enforcement to make a determination on how to proceed.

The new states laws have not changed any procedures for TSA.

Background: The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington state. The Department’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. Neither States nor the Executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses.

Law enforcement will determine how to proceed with the passenger who is attempting to transport marijuana – can include arrest, confiscation of the substance, request to dispose of the substance or allowing passenger to proceed. Passengers may be warned that if they are traveling into a state where marijuana remains illegal that they could face further consequences