LAX is seeing a 166% increase in pot smuggling
Pot is legal in California at this point, which you’d think means that you’d see a decrease in smuggling the drug around. But security at LAX says that’s not the case. Authorities at the airport are seeing a big jump in smugglers hiding pot in carry-on luggage, sometimes up to 50 pounds in a bag at a time. People are basically buying bricks (or more) of the drug in California, and then packing it in their carry-ons as they travel off to Chicago, Atlanta, or Dallas, presumably to sell or use it in a still-illegal state.
Because cannabis is legal in California, just carrying a bunch of pot around is not wrong — the laws state that individuals can carry up to an ounce of the drug freely, and as we’ve said before, the TSA is usually looking for bigger issues, and will usually overlook a small amount (as long as it’s stored safely). But smuggling is smuggling, and if you’re carting 50 pounds of pot to an illegal state, it’s more likely that if the TSA sees that much, they’ll pull you aside and call the local police.
Why are people suddenly traveling with so much more cannabis? The answer is probably money, as usual. While the drug is legal to buy and sell in California (according to state law, at least — federal law still says cannabis is 100% illegal), the legal market has been slower than expected. Taxes are very high (sometimes as high as 50% depending on the locality), and that means that an illegal market is still happening. Presumably that’s also the reason for all of this smuggling: Farmers can grow it here in California, and sell it illegally in other states (or in other legal states, even) for more money.
Fortunately there’s at least one law in consideration for lowering California’s taxes a bit, and hopefully a rule like that will help keep sales where they’re meant to be: in legal dispensaries. Otherwise, we’ll probably continue to see patterns of smuggling like this, as consumers and distributors find ways to make more money illegally than they can through legal channels.