- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 21, 2019

Chicago police do not plan on confiscating small amounts of marijuana found on adults traveling out of the city’s airports once Illinois legalizes recreational pot next month.

Federal and local officials discussed enforcement during a press conference held Friday ahead of the state’s new recreational marijuana law taking effect January 1, 2020.

“Our officers are not looking for cannabis as they go through their normal security duties. But should they come across it, we are going to contact the Chicago Police Department to make a final determination on the disposition,” said Louis Traverzo, a deputy federal security director for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Chicago police will not order domestic travelers to pitch their pot if the amount found is legal under the new state recreational law, CPD Commander William Mullane told reporters.

“To ensure safe travel for all residents and visitors, we’re encouraging all travelers not to bring cannabis through Chicago’s airports as it still remains illegal under federal law,” he said at the press conference, adding that it is also illegal to transport any amount of cannabis across state lines and noting that pot laws differ abroad.

“If it is not a violation of the statute or ordinance, we would offer them a proper disposal of the cannabis if they wish, or they could continue on with their travels,” the police commander said about domestic travelers found with pot.

If travelers are “within the guidelines of our current statute, starting Jan. 1, we can’t enforce anything,” he added, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. “If they’re legal, they’re legal.”

The Illinois state legislature passed a bill legalizing the use and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes in May, and it was signed into law the following month by Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat.

Once the law takes effect, Illinois will become the eleventh state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana usage and the ninth where adults can purchase retail pot from licensed shops.

Marijuana remains prohibited under federal law despite most of the country —33 states and D.C. — having legalized pot to varying degrees.

Illinois legalized the medical use of marijuana in 2013, and more than 30 existing medical dispensaries have been licensed to sell marijuana in accordance with the state’s new recreational law once it takes effect.

The Windy City has two major airports, Midway International Airport and O’Hare International Airport, with the being latter among the busiest in the world. Combined, both airports hosted more than 103 million travelers in 2017, the Chicago Aviation Department said previously.

Airports and airlines alike typically prohibit marijuana consumption.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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