Early reports that the Travel Security Administration (TSA) made “official” changes to its cannabis policies created significant confusion yesterday. Now that the dust has settled, it is time to set the record straight.
There have been no changes to policies about traveling with cannabis.
TSA Flubs Website
The confusion began when the TSA updated information on its website. A new page titled “What Can I Bring?” initially stated that passengers are allowed to travel with medical marijuana.
The page said that travelers could pack it into both their checked and carry-on luggage. But it was a misprint. Within hours medical marijuana disappeared from the page entirely.
Around that same time, the TSA also posted a tweet. It said, “We’re sorry for any confusion. A mistake was made in the database of our new ‘What can I bring?’ tool.”
But the mix-up was not over yet. A few hours later, medical marijuana reappeared when the agency once again updated its “What Can I Bring?” page.
But this time, it now stated that passengers are not allowed to bring medical marijuana in their luggage. The revised web page clarified the agency’s official position.
“TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs,” the statement said. “In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
This is the same policy the agency has had in the past. At the end of the day, it appears that the entire thing was a temporary glitch on the website.
In reality, nothing has changed when it comes to the TSA’s policy about traveling with medical marijuana.
Confusion Among Cannabis Journalists
The entire debacle became even more confusing when cannabis news outlets prematurely published stories claiming that the TSA had changed its policy.
MassRoots broke the story on the morning of April 5. The site published an article that stated, “It’s official: The federal government doesn’t care if you bring medical marijuana on airplanes.”
As it turns out, the change was anything but official. After prematurely claiming that there had been a “change in TSA policy,” MassRoots published a series of updates throughout the day.
These updates reflected the revisions made by the agency after it noticed and then fixed its original error.
The Final Hit
The TSA’s mix-up created significant confusion. Much of that confusion came after news stories prematurely announced an “official” policy change.
Although there have not been any policy changes, the entire debacle comes in a larger context of uncertainty. Many in the cannabis community are unclear about how President Trump and his Administration will approach the issue of cannabis.
During his campaign, President Trump said he was open to the idea of medical marijuana. Recent statements from Washington have contradicted that.
In late February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there could be “greater enforcement” of weed prohibition laws under Trump. Then, last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke out against cannabis.
He argued that weed is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. Sessions then went on to say that medical cannabis “had been hyped, maybe too much.”
For many, the TSA’s online blunders — fueled by premature media reports — only added to the confusion coming out of Washington.