Police at New York airports are no longer seizing marijuana, making arrests or issuing tickets to travelers with low amounts of cannabis.
“We don’t seize it. We just look for threats — explosives, knives, guns; we don’t look for illegally possessed narcotics,” Bart R. Johnson, a former State Police colonel who serves as the federal security director for 15 airports in the state, told the Times Union. “When we notice something suspicious on a pat-down or something like that and then we discover that it’s marijuana … so we’re looking to see if it’s a threat. … If it turns out to be something that appears to be an illegal substance, we notify law enforcement.”
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, whose department patrols Albany International Airport, backed up Johnson’s remarks, saying officers will no longer issue tickets or make an arrest when Transportation Security Administration officials find less than 3 ounces of cannabis on a traveler.
“We don’t take it anymore,” he said. “It’s legal if not more than three ounces and, well, have a nice day.”
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told Fox News it will enforce state laws when asked if airports in New York City will no longer seize marijuana or make arrests of travelers.
Officers in the state would previously make dozens of arrests per year for marijuana possession at airports, but New York legalized recreational use of cannabis in March.
“This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said when the state legalized the drug.
In California, where marijuana is also legal, the Los Angeles Airport Police Department has a similar policy, allowing passengers at LAX to travel with up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana.