Chicago Airports Now Have Amnesty Boxes To Dispose Of Marijuana Before Flight

Federal law still prohibits cannabis and cannabis products, so Chicago airports have provided a solution for flyers who forgot to leave their state-legal cannabis at home.

In case Illinois travelers forget to leave their cannabis at home, two Chicago airports have installed boxes to dispose of the federally illegal substance before passengers take off in flight.


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Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Maggie Huynh told local news outlet Block Club Chicago that the boxes will be regularly checked by the police department.

“The boxes are where travelers can safely dispose of cannabis and cannabis products prior to travel, as they still remain illegal under federal law,” Huynh said.

The metal blue amnesty boxes were installed at both O’Hare International and Midway International airports last week in response to the launch of Illinois recreational cannabis sales.

Huynh did not go into detail about how often the boxes would be checked or how often they might be used, but said police officers will inventory and file a report for the items found inside the amnesty boxes.

According to the Block Club Chicago report, once the marijuana items have been inventoried, they’ll likely be disposed of in a similar manner as narcotics. The new boxes are reportedly located at the end of security checkpoints.

In June, Illinois became the eleventh state to legalize recreational cannabis when state Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

Learn more about Illinois marijuana laws.

Navigating the Green States

Chicago is not the first state to place marijuana amnesty boxes at their airports. They join McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, the Colorado Springs Airport, and the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.

As more states continue to legalize cannabis, confusion on what is legal to bring on flights increases. Some west coast airports even allow passengers to carry cannabis while traveling.

Policy at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) states that local law enforcement will not arrest passengers who possess up to the legal limit in California. A similar policy is upheld at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, which allows adult passengers to carry marijuana in amounts at or under the state’s legal limit.

At Spokane International Airport, the policy allows for the airport police department to offers to legally destroy your cannabis for you instead of risking flight federal implications. The rules of Portland International Airport (PDX) allow passengers flying within the state of Oregon to bring a legal amount of recreational cannabis past security checkpoints.

Most midwestern, southern and eastern U.S. airports have not yet changed much on marijuana regulations. In those cases and end most cases overall, traveling with cannabis is still a risky option.

TSA Checkpoints and Marijuana

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is under federal jurisdiction which views cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. While the TSA is not the agency in charge of enforcing laws on illegal substance possession, they do notify local law enforcement.

In April, TSA posted a message on its Instagram account explaining its role in marijuana discovery in airports.

“Let us be blunt: TSA officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs. Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement. This includes items that are used for medicinal purposes” the TSA post stated.

With hemp and hemp-derived products now legal at the federal level, TSA has announced that flyers can bring along hemp-derived CBD oil products, as well as FDA-approved medications containing CBD, in both carry-on and checked luggage.

More on Cannabis

To read more about the latest developments in cannabis policy, business, and scientific research, visit our cannabis news page.