Oakland Airport's Awesome Marijuana Policy

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Medical marijuana patients know all too well the anxiety of deciding whether/how to travel with their medicine. More than a decade after medical marijuana became legal in California, airports remain hostile territory for patients, who find themselves surrounded by drug sniffing dogs and unfriendly security personnel. Fortunately, there's one airport where patients are welcome:  

Oakland International Airport may be the nation's only airport with a specific policy letting users of medical marijuana travel with the drug.

It states that if deputies determine someone is a qualified patient or primary caregiver as defined by California law and has eight ounces or less of the drug, he or she can keep it and board the plane.

Deputies warn the pot-carrying passengers that they may be committing a felony upon arrival when they set foot in a jurisdiction where medical marijuana is not recognized. But they say they don't call ahead to alert authorities on the other end.

"We never have. We're certainly within our right to, but we never have," said Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. "Our notification of the passengers is for their own safety and well-being." [Oakland Tribune]

How cool is that? These guys are genuinely looking out for the best interests of the patients and it’s a wonderful thing to see. As you might guess, it wasn't always like this and a little agitating was necessary to bring this policy about. Still, the fact that patients can now feel safe at the airport is an achievement worth noting.

The hard truth behind medical marijuana advocacy is that legalization is just the first step in the process. You have to continue the fight in hundreds of other venues just to ensure that the law is upheld. Everywhere you go, you'll find people who've been trained to regard marijuana users as criminals and that mentality doesn’t just disappear with the flip of a switch. Nevertheless, as time passes, we're able to carve out safe terrain for patients in places that once seemed impossible.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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