From the talk in the media and on social networking, you would think that this ban on marijuana they’re proposing at Denver International Airport is all about flying. It’s not. In fact, when it comes down to it, flying is only a very minor part of what makes this proposed rule so bad.
The real issue is the ban on ALL marijuana on ALL Denver International Airport property:
30.16 MARIJUANA PROHIBITED AT DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
16-1 Marijuana at Denver International Airport
It shall be unlawful to possess, consume, use, display, transfer, distribute, sell, transport, or grow Marijuana on any property or facilities owned by Denver International Airport including but not limited to any building, structures, terminals, parking and ground transportation facilities, roadways, and, hangers, warehouses, runways, shops, hotels, motels and administrative offices.
For the purposes of this Section 30.16, the term “Marijuana” shall mean and include all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not, the seeds thereof, the resin extracted from any part of the plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin, including marijuana concentrate. “Marijuana” does not include industrial hemp, nor does it include fiber produced from the stalks, oil, or cake made from the seeds of the plant, sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination, or the weight of any other ingredient combined with marijuana to prepare topical or oral administrations, food, drink, or other product.
Anyone who violates Section 30.16 of this rule will be subject to the administrative procedures and penalties set forth in the Denver Revised Municipal Code, Chapter 2, Article XII and Chapter 5, Article II.
I’ve carried marijuana with me everywhere I go for the last 4 1/2 years. I don’t even think about it anymore. And any time someone asks, I’ll gladly show them what I have and explain how I medicate. It’s a teaching opportunity.
During an interview at DIA last week, I emptied out my purse to show the reporter what I had with me. I pulled out a mouth spray, some gummies, and a bottle of pain cream, all infused with cannabis. Under this rule, just bringing these items with me to the airport, regardless of whether or not I’m flying, is illegal. What I did there in that interview could have cost me $150 for a first-time offense; $999 if it were my third or more.
This is my medicine we’re talking about. I’ve had fibromyalgia for 26 years and I’ve tried nearly everything. Medical marijuana is the only thing that works. And I’ve learned how to medicate in a way that doesn’t leave me stoned or high. But to do that, I need to medicate in small amounts throughout the day. If I take a dose large enough to get me through the day all at once, guess what? I’ll be stoned! If I don’t take my medication, I’ll be in pain and unable to work.
This ban on ALL marijuana effectively bars me and every other medical marijuana patient who medicates responsibly from working at any business at the Airport. Not just the airport, but any giftshop, any restaurant, any hotel, any gas station, any car rental, any fast food joint, any job at DIA is effectively closed to medical marijuana patients. Sure, you have to get caught first, but why should a patient have to worry about getting a fine of up to $999 simply for bringing a doctor-recommended medication with them to work? And I’m not talking about employment drug testing here.
And if you think this doesn’t matter to you because you’re not a medical marijuana patient, think again. If you’re dropping someone off or picking someone up and you have marijuana in your vehicle, even stored safely in the trunk, you’re breaking the law by bringing marijuana onto the property and risk a fine of up to $999.
Everyone wants to blame the problem on someone else. Airport spokesperson, Stacey Stegman, says it’s the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). But the TSA’s own web site clearly stated (until yesterday) that they simply don’t care.
“Screening procedures are governed by federal law and designed to detect threats to aviation security. TSA officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs; however, if an item is found that may violate federal law during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to law enforcement. Whether or not marijuana is considered medical marijuana federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana differently than non-medical marijuana.”
Today, if you search the TSA’s list of prohibited items, the mention of marijuana doesn’t even appear on the page.
Others try to blame the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It does have “Federal” in the name, after all. In fact, a Denver City Councilwoman told me yesterday that the FAA actually runs the airport. She’s clearly mistaken because the FAA isn’t concerned with airport operations. Their interest is in flight operations: pilots, air traffic controllers, etc. The only statement on their web site related to marijuana is about employment drug testing.
And even if the worst thing about this rule is really about flying weed out of state, what about flights from DIA that never leave the state? Flights to Aspen, Telluride, Grand Junction and Colorado Springs are common. How does the airport justify blocking passengers from flying with marijuana in their possession within a state where possessing marijuana is constitutionally approved?
The Denver International Airport web site clearly states who’s in charge:
“The City of Denver owns and operates Denver International Airport. Under the city charter, the management, operation and control of Denver International Airport is delegated to the city’s Department of Aviation. Denver’s mayor appoints a manager to direct the Department of Aviation, and the manager reports directly to the mayor.”
So who’s behind this ban? Who really doesn’t want anyone to ever bring any marijuana anywhere on airport property for any reason, even medical? Who is using the excuse of federal law to deny Coloradans their constitutional rights? Who doesn’t want cannabis consumers anywhere near his planned Airport City? Mayor Michael Hancock, that’s who. While the Denver City Council turns a blind eye and their backs on patients.