Transporting cannabis across state lines is not legal, even between two states that have legal markets and share a border. But that’s not the concern of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents in New York.
Cannabis is not something that security officers are looking for when they screen or pat down passengers, or search their luggage for contraband, at Albany International and surrounding upstate airports, Times Union reported. Rather, cannabis is something TSA agents sometimes find while conducting their security duties.
Bart R. Johnson, a former New York State Police colonel who is the federal security director at the Department of Homeland Security-TSA for 15 regional airports, including Albany International, told the daily newspaper, “We don’t seize it. We just look for threats—explosives, knives, guns; we don’t look for illegally possessed narcotics. When we notice something suspicious on a pat-down or something like that, and then we discover that it’s marijuana … so we’re looking to see if it’s a threat. … If it turns out to be something that appears to be an illegal substance, we notify law enforcement.”
Earlier this year, the New York Legislature legalized adult-use cannabis through passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law March 31. The act allows adults 21 years and older to possess up 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, whose department patrols the airports in its jurisdiction, told Union Times that his deputies are no longer issuing tickets or making arrests if TSA officials call them to a security checkpoint and they find a traveler in possession of a state-legal amount of cannabis.
While local law enforcement is no longer seizing cannabis, nor punishing or taking travelers into custody for state-legal possession amounts, TSA agents are still required by federal law to notify the appropriate agency when they discovery what appears to be a federally illegal substance, according to the daily newspaper.