Mile-high bud

Flying high under the radar

For medical marijuana patients, pot is their prescription. However, the one thing that differs from other patients' treatment is that marijuana has not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration, and still enjoys Schedule I status.

No matter how much it helps you, as far as Uncle Sam is concerned, mere possession of the drug warrants you some jail time (but attorneys can usually help you out with that).

This becomes an issue for medical marijuana patients in federal jurisdictions, like airlines.

The Transportation Security Administration briefly allowed medical marijuana to be carried on flights at the beginning of the month, but quickly changed it after various press outlets contacted them for comment. April Fools?

The TSA website had said that medical marijuana was allowed in checked and carry-on luggage, but also said that they "do not search for marijuana or other drugs," and would defer to local law enforcement if they found marijuana. That part remains on the website.

This policy seems to create a gray area about what would happen if you take marijuana through the airport security check. Suppose the TSA does find marijuana and contacts local authorities who wouldn't confiscate it if it's medically legal in their jurisdiction.

The web of authority highlights the need for an official federal stance on medical marijuana at the very least.

With all but five states legalizing marijuana in some way, the majority of medical marijuana patients likely travel between two states with some form of legal marijuana. If other prescriptions are allowed to be transported between states, then what makes medical marijuana different?

Consider the veteran whose night terrors make a full night's sleep impossible, or the toddler whose daily seizures decrease from 80 to two with treatment. Many states won't accept medical marijuana cards from other states, leaving patients' only option to travel with it.

The state of flux in which the marijuana industry currently operates is bound to create some friction between varying policies, but the federal government can't remain couch-locked on the issue for long.

Even if the current administration wanted to move on recreational marijuana, Donald Trump has taken a decidedly sympathetic stance on medical marijuana in the past, but with opinions that change out faster than a cashed bowl, it's anyone's guess what that is worth.

On one hand, interstate commerce has been a federal jurisdiction since the founding of the nation; on the other, one look at state marijuana laws across the country would indicate the federal government has likely missed their shot at medical marijuana if they wanted to take one.

The ordeal is reminiscent of inconsistencies in marijuana laws in other jurisdictions, such as college campuses. In the end, the truth is simply that medical marijuana is not given the same treatment nor enjoys the same protection as other, more debilitating prescriptions.

In a country that emphasizes freedom, it should give all citizens pause that so much debate surrounds the possession and use of a plant that requires no processing to make users hungry, happy and sleepy, and the worst side effect of which is the artificial threat of losing your freedom to the power-hungry egos of policymakers.

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