Small amounts of marijuana found on passengers in New York’s airports are no longer being seized by local authorities, four months after the state legalized recreational cannabis use.
Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson at the Transportation Security Administration, said the agency’s officers aren’t actively looking for marijuana, but warns they will notify the police if they find it since possession remains a violation of federal law. TSA officers don’t have the power to arrest travelers, but can notify local police agencies. Currently, travelers will only be arrested if they carry more than three ounces of marijuana on them.
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Hear WNYC’s Mirela Irevac on local local authorities no longer arresting travelers for carrying small amounts of marijuana at airports:
“There has been no change in the way that TSA handles marijuana or other drugs that TSA officers come across when they are performing their security duties,” Farbstein said.
Earlier this year, New York State legalized possession of up to three ounces of cannabis for recreational purposes. The law also allows New Yorkers to grow up to five pounds of marijuana in their home. The law will also create a legal cannabis economy, with 40% of tax revenue generated from sales going towards education, another 40% toward communities impacted by the criminalization of marijuana, and 20% to drug treatment and public education programs. It’s expected that $350 million in tax revenue will be generated once the legal cannabis economy is up and running.
A spokesperson at the Port Authority, which operates JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, Benjamin Branham, said they enforce state laws.
“New Yorkers 21 years old and older can possess, obtain and transport up to three ounces of cannabis,” he said. “Therefore, PAPD does not issue tickets, seize or arrest for this amount at NY airports.”
Anything above that is still subject to an arrest.