DENVER Jan 9 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
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
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
Since recreational pot sales began on Jan. 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)