Colorado airports tighten rules on marijuana possession

DENVER Thu Jan 9, 2014 11:39pm EST

Various marijuana strains are prepared for sale at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colorado December 31, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Various marijuana strains are prepared for sale at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colorado December 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado's two largest airports have tightened their rules on marijuana possession after the state became the first in the nation to allow recreational pot stores to operate, airport officials said on Thursday.

Noting that marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under federal law, under which airports operate, the main airports in Denver and Colorado Springs have issued new policies to penalize anyone caught with cannabis.

At Denver International Airport - the nation's fifth- busiest - first-time offenders will face a $150 fine, rising to $500 for a second offense and $999 for a repeat offender, said airport spokeswoman Laura Coale.

At the Colorado Springs Airport, offenders can be subjected to both fines and imprisonment, interim airport manager Dan Gallagher said in a statement announcing the new rules, which take effect on Friday.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey said "amnesty boxes" will be placed at the airport where travelers can leave their pot without being charged. Anyone caught trying to bring pot into prohibited areas will be cited, he said.

Signs will be posted around the airport warning of the possible penalties, the Colorado Springs airport said in a statement. Colorado Springs allows medical marijuana dispensaries, but the city council voted last summer to ban recreational shops.

Both airports make no distinction between the possession of recreational or medical cannabis products.

"Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2001, and recreational marijuana has been legal here since January first of last year, so I don't understand why these rules are coming out now," said Rachel Gillette, the head of Colorado's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Gillette, who opposes the rules, said it was already illegal to board a plane with cannabis, but the new rule applies to all areas of the airport, including areas that do not require Transportation Security Administration screenings.

Colorado's new law allows residents over the age of 21 to purchase up to an ounce (28 grams) of recreational marijuana. Out-of-state visitors are limited to quarter-ounce (7-gram) purchases, and marijuana bought in Colorado cannot be transported across state lines.

A total of 136 retail stores in Colorado have been granted licenses to sell recreational weed although not all have opened for business yet, according to figures from the state Department of Revenue.

Since recreational pot sales began on January 1, traffic has been brisk at the state's approximately 50 recreational pot shops that are operating, said Betty Aldworth, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, and a handful of shops have reported running out of inventory.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Walsh)

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Comments (3)
wxyzbravo123 wrote:
It’s hypocritical that in the past few years it was in the news about airports in MMJ states and TSA security allowing passengers with MMJ and MMJ paperwork to board a plane and fly, for example an article from Dec 2010 said that someone flying from Denver to Arizona with MMJ edibles would be allowed to fly if their MMJ paperwork checked out. The Denver based TSA had no problems with it THEN.

Now that the New Year of 2014 has happened and recreational herb is being sold, the establishment and officials are being hypocrites and it won’t matter if someone has MMJ paperwork with a flight going from Colorado to another MMJ state, just having ANY marijuana will be a finable offense within Colorado airports. All this is, is the system’s backlash against recreational legalization as well as now they want to use fines to take a cut out of those that would travel with marijuana.

Expect the system to start cracking down in ways they’ve never done in recent years even affecting bus and train terminals now that marijuana legalization advocates are growing in mass numbers monthly now. Expect law enforcement to start increasing traffic stops in neighboring states of WA and CO searching for marijuana. They too will want a cut of revenue and confiscated assets. Nationwide legalization is going to start sweeping thru the states now like dominoes over the next few years but you better believe that the system is going to make an extremely aggressive last ditch effort to punish the masses in these last few years as they see their 8 decades of marijuana prohibition war revenue milking machine come to an end !

Jan 10, 2014 9:26am EST  --  Report as abuse
Seriously?, what a waste of time and resources. I would much rather have a person stoned out of their head on a plane then a drunk person. Who is more likely to cause trouble?

Jan 10, 2014 10:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
RonPaulFan wrote:
This is nothing more than political grandstanding. Denver International Airport (DIA) has NO legal authority to issue fines to anyone. Furthermore, DIA is owned by the City of Denver and is located within the borders of Colorado.

DIA has said they will fine people caught in possession of marijuana ON THEIR PROPERTY. This means Federal, Law and TSA have nothing to do with anything. This means DIA will ‘fine’ people who are caught in possession while in the parking lot, or lobby, or in the Terminal — ALL outside the scope of TSA.

DIA can not issue such fines and attempting to prevent people from having the right to have marijuana in their possession is a Constitutional Rights violation.

DIA has no authority to issue fines. Plain and Simple!

Media should start doing their job of researching instead of blindly posting citations as if they are somehow factually correct.

Jan 10, 2014 3:26pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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