The Effects of Legalized Marijuana in the Aviation Industry

MJMany states continue to push for the legalization of marijuana because of its benefits. However, it is still a great challenge as not everyone is on board. The use of marijuana whether it's for amusing or medicinal purposes has continued to gain legal stand in the US. This has affected greatly the operations of the aviation industry.

Here are some of the effects of legalized marijuana for both workers and passengers in the aviation industry.

Disparity Between Federal and State Laws Cause Confusion in the Aviation Industry

Despite the legalization of marijuana in some states, it is not without its challenges. This is because post-security areas in public airports are ruled by federal agencies who consider marijuana as an illegal drug. Despite coming from a state that has legalized marijuana, you have to pass through the security checks in airports who consider marijuana illegal. This mismatch of laws has brought confusion in the aviation industry.

All public airports, airspace, and aircraft are governed by federal law. Since marijuana is illegal to them, you may never legally fly on aircraft with marijuana or any other products containing it. The federal law states that marijuana is illegal and there is no exception. Your place of origin or destination is not taken into account.

Legalization of Marijuana Has led to More Lenient Laws

The laws on marijuana are becoming more lenient as more states continue to legalize its use. This has encouraged more passengers to risk carrying marijuana. For example, you may not be charged any penalty if the Transport and Security Administration at the airport catches you with marijuana. This is only if under the state law it is legal for you to possess marijuana and it is in the approved quantity. However, the fact remains that permitted marijuana is illegal under federal law and you may risk being jailed or taxed. Since the penalties are low, more airline passengers are willing to take the risk and carry their marijuana to other destinations.

Legalization of Marijuana Does Not Change Regulations for Airlines and Aerospace Professionals

Aerospace and aviation professionals are people who understand the importance of sobriety at their work. However, due to the legalization of marijuana, there is worry about the rising number of pilots who are using cannabis. Though the regulations for workers are still in place and also the internal regulation from their employers has not changed, it is a crime to consume marijuana and be under its influence in the workplace. Marijuana causes a decrease in coordination and short term memory.

Employees who test positive on a drug test are immediately placed on a recovery program. In case of a fatal accident and an employee in the aviation industry tests positive for cannabis, they end up in criminal prosecution. A pilot may risk losing their professional insurance coverage and their medical validation certificate. This means losing their livelihood and personal property.

Stiff Penalties for Workers

While the risks and penalties for passengers in airlines are low, legalization of marijuana has led to more stiff penalties for employees and operators in the aviation industry. For example, a pilot should not allow a person under the influence of marijuana to be carried in their aircraft. The exception is only in case of an emergency. Also, a pilot should not operate an aircraft if they know that illegal drugs such as marijuana are carried in the aircraft. Failure to abide by these laws, pilots may be denied their certificates and ratings for one year. Also, they can be suspended and their licenses banned.

Legalization of Marijuana Does Not Favor Aviation Industry Employees

Regardless of being in a state that has legalized marijuana, aviation industry employees are still restricted to its use. This is because the US Department of Transportation does not approve of marijuana use. Even if you are an employee and you have a medical card that allows you to use marijuana at home you will be treated with the same scrutiny as an employee who has used illegal drugs. If you test positive on a drug test and you are an employee, you are likely to be fired.

It is clear that despite the legalization of marijuana in many states traveling with it is not easy. This has greatly affected the aviation industry where passengers and employees fall under the differences between state and federal laws. They need to appeal the laws and free up the aviation industry from this quandary.


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