Before entering the Denver International Airport, passengers are greeted with a sign that warns, “It is unlawful to possess, consume, use, display, transfer, distribute, sell, transport or grow marijuana in this airport. Violators may be fined up to $999.”
However, despite fears that toking tourists would use the airport to smuggle marijuana across state lines, authorities say they have not been forced to confiscate weed or even issue a citation for this offense because it is simply not happening.
In fact, airport representative Heath Montgomery told The Denver Post last week that since the airport banned marijuana in January, only ten people have been busted trying to sneak their stoner souvenirs past security checkpoints.
"To have contact with 10 people out of millions passing through, it tells me most people are abiding by the rules and this is not a major issue," said Montgomery, who adds that in all ten of the incidents, the passengers complied with police and ditched the weed before boarding their flight.
Airport officials decided last December that rather than risk a violation of federal aviation laws, it was in their best interest to ban the possession of marijuana, altogether. "Rather than weave through a web of difficult issues, we decided to make it illegal on airport property," said Julie Smith, a representative for the airport.
Although Transportation Security Administration employees are required by law to contact the authorities if they catch someone with marijuana, Denver police department spokesman Sonny Jackson says most people are simply being asked to dispose of the marijuana or take it back to their vehicle before being released. "They're not trying to smoke it in the airport," he said.
Since possession of small quantities of marijuana is not a criminal offense, the maximum fine an officer could issue a first time pot possession offender would be $150, said Jackson.
And while amnesty boxes have been installed in other Colorado airports to give people the opportunity to dispose of weed before reaching security, Montgomery says that at DIA, which has already seen nearly 25 million passengers so far this year, there does not appear to be any need.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.