Do People Really Use the ‘Cannabis Amnesty Boxes’ at Airports?



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With recreational weed legalized in 18 states, plus Washington D.C. and Guam, there’s a pretty good chance that someone somewhere will try to fly with their stash. Or forget that they even had it on them. 



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To help remind travelers about the federal no-no law of transporting cannabis across state lines, especially from legal states to ones where cannabis is still illegal, airports around the country have tried to nudge travelers to leave their weed behind in drop boxes. 

If you’ve wondered: Where does that weed go? If it hasn’t been snagged by some sticky-fingered smartypants, police departments are supposed to destroy it. That is, if people actually use the boxes. 

Apparently out of the millions of passengers who passed through Chicago’s two main airports since recreational weed was legalized in 2020, only a few dozen people use the bright green dropboxes, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Yeah, that tracks.

RELATED: Can I Take Marijuana on a Plane?

Who’s really going to leave their weed behind?

In theory, it’s a good idea. When the boxes were first installed at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway international airports, it was simply to remind passengers to avoid any issues on either side of their flight. 

There were already similar boxes in Colorado, where the program has been relatively successful, at least in one small airport, and Nevada, where they were nominally being used at the onset. At Los Angeles International Airport, instead of amnesty boxes, officials opted to let people fly with their marijuana and paraphernalia (TSA says otherwise).

Jokes about who gets the weed left behind aside — lining up to be the box cleaner; if outgoing passengers leave weed, shouldn’t incoming passengers get to pick it up — the local police departments are tasked with destroying all the product.

Of course, that’s after they get it out of a bin where people have dropped actual garbage (dirty diapers…ew), or if it hasn’t been pilfered (it happened once at Midway, 22 days after Illinois went legal).

At least in Chicago, officials thought that the boxes would be used more when the original blue boxes were switched to the more cannabis-familiar green — and bolted to the floor — but no. Still, they remain hopeful.



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