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TSA Finds 81 Pounds of Weed in Suitcases

At least she didn’t try to bring it in her carry-on.

Security officials at Oakland International Airport discovered 81 pounds of packaged marijuana inside three suitcases checked for a flight to Mississippi May 2, they said.

The woman who checked the luggage, 26-year-old Anastasia Murdock, oakland airport pot smugglewas arrested and booked into the Santa Rita Jail on charges of possessing marijuana for sale and selling marijuana. Her bail was set at $230,000.

According to the Transportation Safety Administration, Murdock checked her three bags just before 6 a.m. on a U.S. Airways flight bound for Jackson, Miss. The flight had scheduled layovers in Phoenix and Dallas.

The suitcases underwent standard security screening by the TSA, which is when agents caught wind of the booty inside.

“TSA screens every bag placed on an airplane, whether taken as carry-on or checked with an airplane,” said agency spokesman Ross Feinstein.

Agents referred the case to local police, who arrested Murdock. That is how security screeners typically handle situations where they find drugs on passengers at the airport.

“As is common practice, TSA notified the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office of the discovery, [and they] responded and took possession of the marijuana,” Feinstein said. “The passenger was subsequently arrested on criminal charges.”

Getting caught with a small amount of weed at the airport may not cause any problems, though it depends on the airport. Some in Colorado have banned cannabis possession on airport grounds.

TSA agents may even let you fly with pot, as long as you’re departing from and arriving in places where the drug is legal.

“Normally, if it’s an allowable amount of marijuana, when the police officers respond, they just allow the passenger to go on and travel,” said TSA spokesman Nico Melendez.

In California, that only applies to passengers with valid MMJ cards. No matter where you live, carrying sale weight marijuana onto a commercial airliner is still frowned upon, to say the least.

airplaneThe TSA’s security procedures are designed to thwart threats to passengers and the aviation industry, especially terrorism, but they can also turn up evidence of smuggling. Officially, the agency said the search that found the pot was random, but Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said agents probably smelled the weed.

“As most people may know, it’s not hard to smell the odor of marijuana,” Kelly said. “It’s very hard to conceal that odor.”

Officials estimated the cannabis is worth about $100,000 retail in California. But in Mississippi, where there is no medical marijuana and the drug is entirely illegal, it could fetch a much higher price – as much as $500,000, they said.

“It’s one of the larger drug busts that I recall in my 12 years with the TSA,” Melendez said.

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on marijuanaandthelaw.com and californiamarijuanamarket.com.

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