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Airline advises passengers to flush stash upon unexpected US landing

November 15, 2019
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.


Know Your Rights: US/Canada Border Crossing 101

“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.

Jesse B. Staniforth's Bio Image

Jesse B. Staniforth

Jesse B. Staniforth is the editor of the free cannabis-industry
newsletter WeedWeek Canada. He also reports on Indigenous issues,
cybersecurity, and food safety.

View Jesse B. Staniforth's articles

  • Robert Gerus

    Well just maybe in 2020 the great USA will bend to the ways of making marijuana legal so passengers won’t have to worry about landing in an american airport and getting busted. But for now you have to be pretty stupid to take marijuana with you on any plane ride to anywhere with a bag of weed on you or even eddables for that matter. Because border guards will bust you ass and take away your drugs and possible ban from flying. So just don’t be stupid and leave your pot at home. Ho and don’t forget the big fine they slap on you. Hundred of extra dollars for being stupid, all because of a fking joint.

    • kelly doucette

      Do you not realize people DEPEND on “weed” for health issues, prescribed by docs? You fly somewhere how do you suppose one will then get their prescription filled?? It’s different if you intend on flying into the US, but flying for a business meeting or to visit Aunt Rosie in another province is ridiculous.. ppffhh

    • Bob Mann

      If it’s recreational I agree, although flushing a few grams of home grown won’t hurt too badly but 150 grams of medicine.
      That’s $1500+ of medical weed.
      And once it’s gone, you’re going to be sick unless you can do something quickly.