Noting that marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under
federal law, under which airports operate, the main airports in
Denver and Colorado Springs have issued new policies to penalize
anyone caught with cannabis.
At Denver International Airport — the nation's fifth- busiest — first-time offenders will face a $150 fine, rising to $500 for a
second offense and $999 for a repeat offender, said airport
spokeswoman Laura Coale.
At the Colorado Springs Airport, offenders can be subjected to both
fines and imprisonment, interim airport manager Dan Gallagher said
in a statement announcing the new rules, which take effect on
Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey said "amnesty boxes" will
be placed at the airport where travelers can leave their pot without
being charged. Anyone caught trying to bring pot into prohibited
areas will be cited, he said.
Signs will be posted around the airport warning of the possible
penalties, the Colorado Springs airport said in a statement.
Colorado Springs allows medical marijuana dispensaries, but the city
council voted last summer to ban recreational shops.
Both airports make no distinction between the possession of
recreational or medical cannabis products.
"Medical marijuana has
been legal in Colorado since 2001, and recreational marijuana has
been legal here since January first of last year, so I don't
understand why these rules are coming out now," said Rachel
Gillette, the head of Colorado's chapter of the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
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Gillette, who opposes the rules, said it was already illegal to
board a plane with cannabis, but the new rule applies to all areas
of the airport, including areas that do not require Transportation
Security Administration screenings.
Colorado's new law allows residents over the age of 21 to purchase
up to an ounce (28 grams) of recreational marijuana. Out-of-state
visitors are limited to quarter-ounce (7-gram) purchases, and
marijuana bought in Colorado cannot be transported across state
A total of 136 retail stores in Colorado have been granted licenses
to sell recreational weed although not all have opened for business
yet, according to figures from the state Department of Revenue.
Since recreational pot sales began on January 1, traffic has been
brisk at the state's approximately 50 recreational pot shops that
are operating, said Betty Aldworth, deputy director of the National
Cannabis Industry Association, and a handful of shops have reported
running out of inventory.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Walsh)
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