Police at Albany International and other major New York airports are no longer making arrests, writing tickets, or conducting product seizures in the case of low-level cannabis possession by travelers, according to a Times Union report.
The new policy is a result of New York’s recent legalization of adult-use cannabis.
According to Bart R. Johnson, former State Police colonel and current federal security director for 15 upstate New York airports, “We don’t seize [cannabis]. We just look for threats—explosives, knives, guns; we don’t look for illegally possessed narcotics.” Rather, if a suspected illegal substance is discovered during TSA officers’ search for threat-related contraband, “we notify law enforcement.”
Officers with TSA—a federal agency—are required to notify local law enforcement whenever they encounter an illegal substance, and cannabis remains federally prohibited. But cannabis has been legalized in New York and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said that if a passenger is discovered to be carrying cannabis, deputies will no longer take action unless the amount of cannabis appears to surpass the state’s three-ounce possession limit.
“We don’t take it anymore. It’s legal if not more than three ounces and, well, have a nice day.” — Sheriff Apple, via the Times Union
The change follows similar policy shifts in other post-prohibition states. In 2018, officials at LAX in Los Angeles announced the airport would allow cannabis possession by travelers.
Last January, Chicago airports established so-called “cannabis amnesty” boxes where travelers could deposit any cannabis products they were carrying before going through security — notably, security footage showed that one such amnesty box was pilfered by an arriving traveler within weeks.
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