Denver International Airport banned marijuana possession on airport property this week in a move that officials say will help prevent legal pot from flying illegally out of state.
That includes the parking lots. So if lighting up a huge bowl of kush in the West Garage before getting on a plane is part of your pre-flight ritual, it might be time to adjust.
Earlier this month, Denver City Council passed an ordinance making it legal for the city to ban the display and transfer of pot on city-owned land. DIA has taken that one step further, banning possession - which is allowed under Amendment 64 -- outright. The ban is justified, airport officials say, because the facility is partially run by federal agencies.
But that doesn't mean that DIA security will make it a priority to search for pot. The Denver cops aren't going to be patrolling for pot (they say), and the TSA has already acknowledged that it is more focused on things that pose a security risk. That isn't a free pass, however: If TSA agents do find pot in a routine search, they'll defer to Denver police stationed at security checkpoints, who will enforce Denver laws.
According to the TSA website: "Law enforcement will determine how to proceed with the passenger who is attempting to transport marijuana -- can include arrest, confiscation of the substance, request to dispose of the substance or allowing passenger to proceed. Passengers may be warned that if they are traveling into a state where marijuana remains illegal that they could face further consequences."
Before, that basically meant you were free to possess pot in the airport, and we've written in the past about medical patients being able to fly freely between Colorado and other medical marijuana states that recognize Colorado medical marijuana recommendations. The TSA had also expanded that gray area to recreational states as recently as November 2012.
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But now if you get busted with herb or edibles at DIA - even in the parking lots - you could face a $999 fine, the stiffest penalty for pot possession in the city.
The timing of this story couldn't be more appropriate (and planned). Just two days before legal sales opened up to adults 21 and up, the airport press squad made the rounds and got the story out nationally, with CNN picking it up and running with it. Airport officials say they'll be posting signage around the airport warning travelers of the fines and penalties.