Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Saletan: Is water more dangerous than weed?

First Published Jan 31 2014 03:11 pm • Last Updated Jan 31 2014 03:11 pm

WASHINGTON - "Among the many oddities that have arisen from marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado is this: It can be easier to get through airport security with a bag of weed than a bottle of water."

That’s the opening sentence of an Associated Press dispatch this week from Colorado. The article goes on to explain: "The Transportation Security Administration makes travelers empty their water bottles, but when agents encounter personal amounts of marijuana at security checkpoints, they typically don’t call the DEA or FBI."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

This is madness, right?

Wrong. It’s perfectly sane. In fact, it illustrates how strange the world can seem to us when our intuitions and traditions are replaced by rationality.

TSA limits carry-on containers of any liquid, including water, to 100 milliliters, i.e., 3.4 ounces. That’s because of a 2006 plot to blow up planes using "liquid explosives disguised as commonly consumed UK beverages." In 2010, TSA administrator John Pistole indicated that the plot may have involved "sodas and water." The problem, he explained, "is that liquid explosives don’t look any different than regular liquids on the X-ray monitor."

Why, then, doesn’t TSA forbid all water? In 2008, then-TSA administrator Kip Hawley reported that lab tests determined the 100 milliliter threshold adequately "limits the effect of, and even the ability of, a detonation." He added: "We try to prohibit the minimum possible from a security standpoint. Also, the consequence of banning all liquids is a large increase in the number of checked bags, which creates its own issues."

In other words, airport security involves tradeoffs. Every second TSA officers have to spend on marginal threats such as pocket knives and small liquid containers is a second they’re distracted from more serious possibilities.

That’s why it can be, and should be, easier to get through airport security with a bag of weed than a bottle of water. Unless you’ve figured out how to disguise a plane-exploding bomb as an ounce of pot, your baggie isn’t worth a TSA officer’s time.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.