Chicago Aviation Department, CPD Discuss Procedures Of Traveling With Marijuana

By the end of the holiday travel period, recreational marijuana use will have become legal in Chicago and the rest of Illinois.

Bernie Tafoya
December 20, 2019 - 1:45 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Nearly 5 million passengers are expected to travel over the 19-day Christmas-through-New Year holiday period, and airlines anticipate that passenger volumes across O’Hare and Midway International Airports will be 2.5 percent higher compared to this season in 2018.

The official holiday travel season kicked off Thursday, Dec. 19 and continues through Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Over that period, airlines project more than 3.9 million passengers will travel through O’Hare, while nearly 1 million passengers will pass through Midway. According to the Chicago Aviation Department, Friday, December 20 is projected to be the busiest travel day at both airports with more than 230,000 passengers at O’Hare and more than 49,000 at Midway. On the back-end of the season, the second busiest day at O’Hare will be Friday, January 3, 2020, while Saturday, January 4, 2020, will be the second busiest at Midway. The holiday travel period will conclude on January 6, 2020.

The Chicago Aviation Department and police officials staged their annual holiday travel news conference Friday morning, but this year, there was a twist.

By the end of the holiday travel period, Jan. 6th, recreational marijuana use will have become legal in Chicago and the rest of Illinois.

Chicago Police Cmdr. William Mullane's official line is this: "We’re encouraging all travelers not to bring cannabis through Chicago’s airports as it still remains illegal under federal law."

He reminds people it's still against federal law to transport cannabis across state lines.

But, what if you do have legal amounts of cannabis with you at the airport?

"If it is not a violation of the statute or ordinance, we would offer them proper disposal of the cannabis, if they wish, or they could continue on with their travels," Mullane said.

That means, you can choose to leave the pot behind in a special container, or police will let you take the marijuana onto the plane with you and you take your own chances on the other end of the trip.

"Our officers are not looking for any cannabis as they go through their normal security duties, but should they come across it, we are going to contact the Chicago Police Department to make a final determination on the disposition," said TSA official Louis Traverzo.

And the determination of what should be done depends on the age of the person and the amount of cannabis the person has.

Under the new Illinois law, you must be 21 or older to possess up to 30 grams, about an ounce of marijuana, five grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to a half-gram of THC, the substance that gives people the high.