Travelers passing through Chicago’s airports can honestly bin their bud before boarding

Travelers passing through Chicago's airports can honestly bin their bud before boarding

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

On January 5, 2020, a momentous occasion occurred in Illinois. On this date, cannabis became legal for recreational purposes statewide. As a direct effect of this, Chicago’s airports have introduced “cannabis amnesty boxes”.

These boxes – owned by Chicago’s Department of Aviation – are to be used by individuals departing from the state for the purpose of getting rid of anything they didn’t manage to smoke before flying. Bright blue in color, the receptacles can be found located near the TSA checkpoints at O’Hare and Midway. 

“The boxes, placed at the end of every TSA checkpoint at both O’Hare and Midway, were in place once the new cannabis law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The boxes are where travelers can safely dispose of cannabis and cannabis products prior to travel, as they still remain illegal under federal law,” explained CPD spokesperson Maggie Huynh, who says that the amnesty boxes will be serviced by the Chicago Police Department. 

Cannabis amnesty boxes: Transporting pot across state lines remains illegal

While it may be legal for Illinois residents aged 21 and over to possess a maximum of 1.5 grams of the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and 30 grams of cannabis in the form of concentrates or plant material, it is against the law to take cannabis across state lines. 

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo feels confident that Chicago’s cannabis amnesty boxes will prove beneficial in reducing the risk of passengers being punished. 

“I think anytime somebody throws something out before leaving town, I would consider it successful,” DiSalvo told The Aspen Daily News. “I think people are doing the right thing.”

Cannabis amnesty boxes can also be found inside the airports of other “green” states

McCarran International Airport – the main airport for members of the public and military members in Las Vegas Valley – installed cannabis amnesty boxes back in 2018. Two airports – Aspen and Colorado Springs – have installed the boxes in Colorado, which joined Washington in becoming one of the first U.S. states to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes in 2012.

The state’s largest airport in Denver, however, does not have the boxes fitted; the plant is banned from airport property in any form. This was confirmed by Denver International Airport’s public information officer Emily Williams. According to a statement made by Williams to USA Today reporters, possessing or consuming cannabis on airport property is forbidden.

“People can be cited for having any amount of [cannabis] at the airport,” Williams added. “Denver Police will investigate when a person is found to possess a substance that is suspected to be or contain [cannabis] at a TSA checkpoint. If the amount of [cannabis] is legal under Colorado law, the passenger is generally able to continue on without a citation, though the [cannabis] product is not returned to them.”

Twitter users offer recommendations for cannabis amnesty boxes in Chicago

Members of the public who use Twitter as an outlet for their opinions have taken to the social networking platform to share their suggestions about Chicago’s cannabis amnesty boxes.

If Chicago airports are letting departing travelers drop cannabis in these amnesty boxes, shouldn’t they let arriving travelers take weed out of the box? Let’s give our tourists a hearty welcome,” joked Twitter user Mark Jacob.

Another Twitter user called Harryette Drayton pondered over “the keeper” of the boxes. 

Whoever the person on the receiving end may be, a nasty surprise could potentially be in store. Previous searches of the cannabis amnesty boxes unearthed dirty diapers, used coffee cups and trash; labeling the boxes with “pot only” hasn’t seemed to work, so far.

Nonetheless, the TSA and police have confirmed that the boxes will ensure rules pertaining to airport cannabis possession are abided by.