Varying marijuana laws present questions for air travelers

Air travelers can be caught at the nexus of varying—and changing—marijuana laws.

In Minnesota, medical marijuana is legal. It is not in all states. Recreational marijuana is legal in some states as well, though all marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

So what should an air traveler at MSP know?

The Airport Police are tasked with enforcing state laws—not federal laws.

“If travelers have with them a prescription for medicinal marijuana and the marijuana product in their possession is consistent with that prescription in form and volume, we allow it in accordance with Minnesota law," an airport spokesperson said. "However, travelers should be aware that marijuana laws vary from state to state.”

However, laws get trickier as travelers make their way through security checkpoints operated by the Transportation Security Administration—an agency enforcing federal law. A TSA spokesperson told Fox 9 its agents remain focused on terrorism, not drugs, but agents will alert airport police when they discover marijuana. And if the airport police “decide to take no action, the traveler is allowed to proceed with the item in question.”

Marijuana incidents are rare at MSP. According to the airport, marijuana was discovered 5 times in 2014.

In 2015, after medical marijuana was legalized, the number increased to 15 cases—and of those, 11 were arrested or received tickets and four were not charged.

In 2016, there were nine cases, and of those, four resulted in arrests or tickets, and five were not charged.

A spokesperson added that if “only trace or insignificant amounts are found,” the travelers are usually not charged.