Before 9/11, flying with contraband was… different.
Weed and other, more nefarious substances were routinely slipped down pants, into bras, or for the brave and extra paranoid, “keistered.”
Travelers flying in from weed meccas such as Hawaii or Humboldt often brought examples of the local horticulture, the sale of which paid for their trip, and then some.
Now, bringing more than three ounces of shampoo in your carry-on is a hangable offense, and modern body scanners can determine what’s in your pocket and your colon.
But it’s possible to fly with weed out of the state of Oregon (if not precisely legal once you touch down). And not just a B-cup’s worth, but a pound plus. Urban legend, or the greatest answer to air rage ever?
It’s true, but there are conditions.
You need to be a participating cardholder in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP).
You can be one or more of three cardholder categories: patient, grower, and/or caregiver. Patients are allowed to consume cannabis, and can possess and travel with up to 1.5 pounds in Oregon.
A caregiver serves as a conduit for the patient, acquiring and often transporting cannabis from a grower, dispensary, or other source—they, too, are allowed to transport 1.5 pounds per patient in Oregon.
All cardholders can be in possession of these listed amounts anywhere in Oregon, save for some federal buildings.
But what about airports?
In 2009, in-house counsel for the Port of Portland responded to a question from a OMMP cardholder regarding flying with cannabis, writing:
“In response to your specific question, the Port does not have an ‘official written policy’ regarding Oregon Medical Marijuana patients who want to bring their medicine on the airplane. The Port complies with and enforces applicable state and federal laws. Marijuana is not seized from a passenger who holds a valid [OMMP] card when boarding aircraft at the Portland International Airport as long as the passenger is not carrying a quantity that exceeds an amount that he or she is lawfully authorized to possess.”
There are further caveats:
Other states don’t recognize the OMMP, so don’t get arrested in Texas (ever) with your suitcase of kind green.
You are subject to your particular destination’s laws when you land.
If your connecting flight gets canceled and you leave the airport, you’ll need to pass through security again when you return to catch your rescheduled flight. Game over.
If you do fly, package your cannabis in multiple plastic, turkey-oven-strength bags to block the smell, and place into a strong piece of new Tupperware.
You want to be able to show the TSA what you are carrying without broadcasting it to every other passenger on your flight. Some passengers might not take kindly to your goods, and could call the local authorities once you have touched down.
Have your OMMP card.
And when you fly home to Oregon, don’t bring any leftovers back with you.