Cannabis Smuggling at LAX
The Los Angeles International Airport is experiencing an increase of arrests by 166%, since the legalization of recreational cannabis. Last year the L.A. Airport Police arrested 101 people on trafficking compared to 20 arrests in 2016 and 38 arrests in 2017. This problem is not unique to Los Angeles. The Oakland International Airport has reported a surge in marijuana smuggling as well. Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sherriff’s Office has jurisdiction of the Oakland International Airport. He stated that his officers are confiscating cannabis from passengers headed toward other states.
In addition to federal laws that ban the transportation of marijuana, there are various states who have made it against the law as well. Oregon for example has made it illegal under measure 91 to carry cannabis across state borders, regardless of whether the other state allows cannabis for recreational purpose. Another not so obvious crime that you could be breaking in Oregon is if you have marijuana in your possession when you are at a military base, national forest, federal courthouse, national monument or any other property that is under federal jurisdiction. In fact, if you are caught consuming or cultivating cannabis at a federal park you could possibly end up in jail or owing a fine of up to $250,000. California and Nevada have similar laws prohibiting transport across state lines.
Ben Kroger, Jr., is a criminal defense lawyer that specializes in cannabis law. He stated that since marijuana has been legalized, prices have dropped within the state. Making selling in another state where marijuana has not been legalized a lucrative but illegal option. He also went on to say that there was less money to make in California when it comes to cannabis as everyone started partaking in the business once it was legalized. This flooded the market which pushed illegal dealers to sell across state borders and break state laws.
Sellers who transport CBD products that are derived from hemp should be fine passing through security now that the 2018 Farm Bill has passed. Regardless, precautions should to be taken when traveling with tinctures and other forms of cannabis. If you’re not 100% certain what part of the marijuana plant the CBD products are extracted from, err on the side of caution. It’s also important to note that TSA workers are not trained on how to tell the difference between different types of cannabis products. So, you may be in the clear legally, but they may not stop you from being held up and missing your flight. TSA also allows passengers to transport marijuana paraphernalia.
TSA has made it known that they are not in the business of searching for pot, but other countries take a much more heavy-handed approach. If you are traveling to the following countries, leave the marijuana at home:
- Japan - If you are a foreigner, the U.S. State Department warns you that you will receive expensive fines, long jail sentences and solitary confinement if caught with marijuana in Japan.
- Indonesia - Under Indonesian law, marijuana is in the same category as hardcore drugs such as heroin, cocaine and meth. Punishment ranges from four to twelve years of imprisonment and tens of thousand of U.S. dollars in fines. Possession of over 1kg of cannabis can result in life in prison.
- United Arab Emirates - Avoid bring cannabis to this country, it you don’t it could cost you your life. Four years in prison is the minimum for possession (possession includes having levels that are detectable of any narcotic in your bloodstream) and if you are found guilty of trafficking you could get the death penalty.
- France - Even little amounts of cannabis can land you in hot water in France. Keep the weed at home if you want to avoid a fine of a thousand euros or a year in prison.
- Singapore - Known for giving out severe punishments for seemingly small offenses, it’s no surprise that Singapore may be the last country you step foot in if caught with over 500 grams of marijuana. The penalty for trafficking over 500 grams is the death penalty. If caught with less you can still face 10 years to life in prison or the painful punishment of caning.
The fact of the matter is that we live in a global era where travel is more affordable and accessible than ever before, but with that privilege comes responsibility. As the saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. It’s up to each traveler not to assume that each state, country or territory has the same laws as your place of residence. Ignorance of the law will not hold up in court if charged with a crime.
Before traveling, make sure you educate yourself on what is allowed and what is banned, and this doesn’t just apply to marijuana. Due diligence should be one step on your to do list when safely traveling to lessen the likelihood of major inconvenience and trouble with the law.