As marijuana becomes more common, Customs warns travelers to keep it off planes
DULLES, Va. (ABC7) —
On a busy day at Dulles International Airport, tens of thousands of people will arrive on international flights, lines will wrap around the Customs area and a two-year-old German Shepard named Gina will be waiting for you — she doesn't listen to excuses and she smells everything.
"Anything that has the marijuana in it. She's trained to detect marijuana, hash, coke, ecstasy, heroin and fentanyl," said K9 enforcement officer Damina Notnagle.
As marijuana becomes legal in more places in the United States and around the world, travelers often forget or are unaware of the consequences of bringing pot through a U.S. airport port of entry.
"Marijuana is still an illegal and illicit substance. It's not allowed to be transported, or brought into the country under any means, even medicinal," said Supervisory Customs and Border Protection Officer Christopher Downing.
For Notnagle, there's a growing problem with edible marijuana.
"We are seeing a lot more edibles," she said. "When I started, there were no edibles, but since I started, marijuana is becoming legal in quite a few places."
For violators at Dulles, marijuana fines can be high.
If you come in with marijuana gummy bears, it is illegal. Travelers can be hit with a $500 civil penalty, and if they don't have the money or means to pay, then they will have to sign a promissory note.
Travelers caught with marijuana can also face consequences for the rest of their lives as U.S. citizens and non-residents, including the possibility of deportation.
They can be excluded from any type of trusted traveler program that the government has, such as TSA Pre-Check and global entry.
So far in 2018, Dulles and Reagan National Airport have reported 30 marijuana-related incidents.
Although marijuana is legal in D.C., remember both airports are in Virginia where it is still illegal.