Airline advises passengers to flush stash upon unexpected US landing

Published on November 15, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
airplane passengers
Pollyana Ventura/iStock

Imagine you’re en route to the Collector’s Cup, flying from Toronto to Vancouver with 30 grams of the finest buds from your four legal homegrown plants. Or perhaps you’re a medical patient flying with 150 grams, because your health relies on access to the right cultivar while you’re away from home.

But there’s a problem during your flight: adverse weather conditions or technical issues have appeared on the way to Vancouver, and the pilot announces for safety’s sake, you’re going to have to land at the closest airport—which happens to be in the United States.

And since it’ll be a long wait, you’ll be asked to disembark and clear customs. What do you do with your weed?

That was the question facing passengers on Air Canada flight AC125, a Toronto–Vancouver flight forced by mechanical concerns to land in Seattle last week.

Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland told the CBC: If you’ve found yourself in the US by accident and you’re carrying cannabis, don’t risk the harsh punishments of US federal prohibition. Flush your stash.

“In cases where an emergency landing is required on US territory, be aware that US law will fully apply to you if you are transporting cannabis which may have been legal in Canada,” he explained.

Kurland advised Canadian airlines to allow passengers to line up for the washroom to dispose of cannabis there.

If your stash is in your carry-on bag, a sad trip to the airplane lavatory awaits you. If you packed your stash in your checked baggage, sit tight and hope they don’t plan on unloading any of that.

And don’t expect help from the airline, either.

An Air Canada spokesperson said their company cannabis policy says any passenger refused entry to a country due to cannabis is responsible for finding—and paying—their own way home.

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Jesse B. Staniforth
Jesse B. Staniforth
Jesse Staniforth reports on cannabis, food safety, and Indigenous issues. He is the former editor of WeedWeek Canada.
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