Pubdate: Wed, 06 May 2015
Source: Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
Column: Willie Weed
Copyright: 2015 Willamette Week Newspaper
Author: Tyler Hurst


Earlier this year, for a trip to Arizona to see my beloved Seattle 
Mariners at spring training, I packed the kind of contraband that has 
ruined lives, has seen people shot, and is nearly totally legal in 
four states: cannabis.

In mid-March, midweek and midafternoon, I approached the security 
line at Portland International Airport. I was armed with a convenient 
"Flying out of Portland with Medical Cannabis" letter that included 
words from Port of Portland assistant general counsel Wendy Hain. The 
port has no official policy on pot-the letter says that, clearly-but 
Hain has done her best to dissuade the Transportation Security 
Administration agents from hassling us.

"Marijuana is not seized from a passenger who holds a valid Oregon 
Medical Marijuana card when boarding an aircraft at the Portland 
International Airport as long as the passenger is not carrying a 
quantity that exceeds an amount that he or she is lawfully authorized 
to possess," she wrote.

Still, I braced myself to be whisked away to some dark, windowless 
room to have my bags and body searched.

Over and over again, I reminded myself exactly what I was carrying, 
which was three Squibs and a packet of Shrapnel from Lunchbox 
Alchemy. Packed in my see-through toiletry bag with all my liquids 
and OMMP card, the products were in their original packaging because 
transferring them to prescription bottles felt like I was exposing 
myself to the kind of debacle that befell an Oregon woman who was 
arrested in Japan, where she lives, for mailing herself prescription 
Adderall in non-original packaging. I figured my best bet was to be 
open and honest.

But I didn't feel open and honest. I felt scared. I worried that my 
wife, also at the airport for a flight, would get in trouble with me. 
All I wanted was an enjoyable, pain-free plane ride, followed by a 
few days of relaxed fun in the sun.

The relatively short line, previously a welcome sight, made me worry 
that security agents would be bored and have plenty of time to teach 
me a lesson about carrying cannabis.

I waited and hoped I didn't sweat too much.

After seven excruciating minutes that had me picking prison nicknames 
and promising myself that I'd learn to fight on the very first day I 
did time, I made it to the boarding-pass check.

With a dismissive wave, he shooed me over to the TSA pre-check 
section, the only lane open on this slow afternoon. I paused, sure 
I'd been caught, only to be told to keep walking by the next guard. I 
looked back for my wife, but couldn't see her.

Carry-on-sized bag in hand and laptop bag on shoulder, I passed this 
next guard and heard him tell me to keep my shoes on, keep all my 
items in my bag, to put both bags on the conveyor belt, and to take 
out my cellphone.

Oh no, this was it. I was fucked. Not only did they know I was 
carrying cannabis, they probably assumed I had cannabis in my system 
and didn't want to even bother with the formality of checking my bag 
before showing me that windowless interrogation room.

I stepped forward, and what next came out of my mouth shocked even 
me. "But what about my toiletries? I have some med-" I said, while 
fighting the urge to go all Tyler Durden on myself.

The guard cut me off, repeated his previous requests, and I froze. 
Was this for real? Did he know? Oh my God, what was about to happen?

I walked through the standard metal detector, took two steps, turned 
left, and grabbed my two bags and phone. Next, I walked over a bench, 
unzipped the outer flap, removed my see-through bag, looked through 
it to make sure everything was still there, and repacked it in the 
main compartment. After texting my wife, I walked to my gate, and 
took a small bit of Squib in preparation for a long flight.

For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing 
continued to happen.

Why can't every flight be like this?
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom