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It didn't take long for someone to pilfer weed from an airport bin where travelers ditch their stash

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Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- One person's trash is another person's stash.

Chicago police say someone apparently stole marijuana this week from one of the blue boxes placed at Midway Airport for travelers who need to dispose of their weed before they get on a plane.

The "marijuana amnesty boxes" were placed there and at O'Hare International Airport earlier this month when it became legal to possess marijuana in Illinois. It's not illegal to have it at the airports, but possessing marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and airspace is regulated by the federal government.

The boxes give people a chance to get rid of their marijuana to ensure they're not breaking federal law and won't run into an issue when they land at their destination. That's exactly what someone did Monday, according to Chicago police.

The city of Chicago has set up cannabis amnesty boxes at O'Hare and Midway airports where travelers can drop weed before boarding a plane. The boxes were installed at the airports just as legal weed sales began in Illinois on Jan. 1.

About 6 p.m., someone reached into the box and "removed an unknown object from inside," police said, apparently the weed that had been tossed into it earlier.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives are investigating. "Tampering with them, or attempting to remove anything placed inside, is a crime," he said.

He added that "new, permanent theft prevention boxes are expected to replace the temporary ones in the coming weeks, making them more secure and preventing anyone from further accessing materials dropped inside."

 

The Transportation Security Administration doesn't search for weed at security checkpoints, according to its website. But its agents are obligated to report any violations of federal law to local police, TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said. TSA agents will not weigh the amount in travelers' possession before turning it over to police, Koshetz said.

"In the event a substance that appears illegal is discovered during security screening, our officers will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer, who then follow their own procedures," Koshetz said.

Illinois residents can legally possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, or about an ounce, in Illinois, and out-of-state residents can have half that.

The boxes are owned by the Chicago Department of Aviation and serviced by the police. Officers will regularly empty the boxes, file a report for the items inside and dispose of any surrendered marijuana as they would narcotic.

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