The marijuana “amnesty” box installed at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in February is proving popular among travelers who don’t want to risk flying with cannabis.

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While the drug in Colorado is legal for adults to buy, fliers are prohibited from taking cannabis with them on flights to Denver International Airport, where the majority of Aspen flights are bound, or to other states where the drug is illegal. DIA in 2013 banned marijuana from its 53-square-mile property, and flights in general are regulated by the federal government, which continues to consider marijuana an illegal drug.

A deputy with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office recently stopped by the Sardy Field terminal where the box is located and retrieved the contents accumulated over two or three months, which included five bottles of infused drinks, a couple of pipes, edibles and several containers with leafy product.

Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Tuesday that he’s glad the box is serving its purpose. When it was first installed in February, travelers mostly used it as a trash receptacle.

“I think anytime somebody throws something out before leaving town, I would consider it successful,” he said of the box. “I think people are doing the right thing.”

The container, bolted to the floor, was installed by airport staff at the behest of the sheriff’s office. The idea is to offer fliers who forget they have cannabis on their person or in their luggage a way to dispose of the product with no questions asked by the authorities.

That people are making use of the amnesty box “adds to my belief … that the impact of legal marijuana has been minimal on Pitkin County,” DiSalvo said. “People are being respectful, throwing their stuff away and not getting on airplanes with it.”

The Transportation Security Administration has only called sheriff’s deputies twice since the box was installed, once in April and again in June, said Charlie Matthews, the department’s records manager.

Those with pot are instructed to either use the box or put it back in their vehicles. No arrests or citations have occurred.

Colorado Springs has the only other airport in the state with amnesty boxes. Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department likewise said only two people have been stopped trying to take marijuana onto a plane.

The Springs boxes “are not overly utilized, which we like to believe is because people are not bringing their marijuana to the airport,” Buckley said.

At DIA, an estimated 25 million people have passed through the terminals so far this year, and only 16 have been contacted for cannabis, said spokesman Heath Montgomery.

“The numbers have been incredibly low,” he said.

DIA did not install similar boxes, and instead asks people to put their marijuana in the trash or back in their cars, Montgomery said.

“Every single one of them has voluntarily complied,” he said of those contacted.

The items from the Aspen airport box will also go to the landfill, though they will be mixed with regular trash to make the products unusable, said Undersheriff Ron Ryan. The infused drinks will be poured down the drain.

DiSalvo said he believes the amnesty box was a good idea.

“I think it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I’m sticking with it.”

chad@aspendailynews.com

Original article here

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