Medical marijuana patients can now travel with the drug through San Francisco International Airport, as well as other Bay Area airports, the Mercury News reports.
Passengers who are card-carrying patients are permitted to carry up to 8 ounces of dried cannabis, in compliance with San Francisco city policy. It is up to the city’s police, who patrol the airport, not the airport officials or TSA officers, to decide if a passenger can travel with the pot.
In the past, police at SFO and San Jose airport were told to make the call on whether the passenger could travel with the drugs, but a report was likely filed to federal authorities who then decided whether or not to follow up with charges. But this week that all changed as the Department of Justice directed US attorneys to leave passengers alone traveling with the drug if they are in compliance with state laws.
Nathan Sands, vice president of the Compassionate Coalition, a Fairfield-based nonprofit medical pot advocacy group, told the Mercury News that despite technically being able to fly with medical marijuana, passengers are often too fearful of airport officials and police to bother traveling with the drug.
“It’s clearly a good thing that airports such as Oakland and SFO allow patients to be able to travel with their medicine. That’s a positive policy,” Kris Hermes, spokesman for the Oakland-based advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, told the Mercury News. “Some patients cannot be without their medicine for more than a few hours.”
Of course, patients using the drug should consult the state laws of their final destination. More than 30 states do not allow the use of medical marijuana, and if a Bay Area traveler transports the drug to one of those states–despite being able to leave the area with it–they could be prosecuted by local officials upon landing.
By Rebecca Heslin