U.S. Journalist Detained in Germany for Marijuana Following Barcelona Assignment

March 17, 2024

Read the full article on CannabisNow.com!

As I sit here on this plane not high, I am still distraught over what just transpired this morning. Let me first start with the reflection that I take full responsibility for my actions, and I’m in no way dismissing the fact that everyone needs to abide by the law of the country they are in. I am however trying to make sense of the situation, as a good majority of my professional work lies within the cannabis industry.

As a freelance journalist and on-camera host based in Los Angeles I had the golden opportunity to host the International Cannabis Awards in Barcelona, Spain, which took place just a few days ago, prior to attending Spannabis, Europes largest cannabis event. The ICA’s was deemed the “Oscars of the cannabis industry,” and to be able to host such a prestigious award ceremony overseas was something I was definitely not taking for granted.

Cannabis brought me to Spain, and I’ll forever be grateful. Beyond falling in love with the city in itself, Spannabis was something I’d never imagine to be taking place overseas — especially in a place where weed is not yet fully legal. In fact, a good handful of social clubs (what they call weed consumption lounges in Europe) got raided just this week.

I attended Day 1 of Spannabis on Friday, March 15th, thanks to good people over at Royal Queen Seeds. As one of their ambassadors, it’s been a joy to work with such a well-respected brand. They had the biggest booth at the expo, although I’d definitely label Spannabis more of a weed festival. Guests can buy a ticket for 25 Euros and attend, whereas trade shows in the United States are much more expensive and sometimes only limited to vendors.

My flight back to the States was scheduled for 9:50am on Saturday morning. I was supposed to fly back on the airline Air France, with a layover in Paris. I typically am late to flights, so I made it a point to schedule the cab to pick me up from Axel Hotel at 6:50am. Who knew that arriving 2.5 hours early would result in a nightmare to ensue.

Upon arriving to the Air France counter, I was told my scheduled flight (which was completely paid for in advance) was overbooked by about seven to eight people. Without my consent, the airline representative working the counter informed me he was bering switched to a 7:55am flight via Lufthansa, which would now be stopping in Munich, Germany instead of Paris.

So now, I’m on a two hour flight from Barcelona to Germany. There was an hour transfer window to make it to my next gate upon arrival, with my luggage taken care of in the backend. Side note, this might be a good time to note that I typically travel international with weed in my checked in luggage. I’ve been everywhere from Dubai to countries all over Europe, to even the Philippines. Not encouraging this behavior in any way, but also I have never thought twice about bringing the plant with me.

I suffer from ADD/ADHD, so I tend to lag when it comes to boarding the flight. I like to be one of the last ones to board for this very reason, because sitting down for long periods of time is actually my hell. As I approached the gate, I was suddenly stopped by two men who showed me their police badges: https://www.instagram.com/p/C4kqQ1iMPCy/

They confirmed my name and proceeded to tell me they’ve been waiting 30 minutes for me. Not knowing what I was being stopped for, one of them eventually pulled out all the weed from my luggage that I had checked in for the flight. It was all detained inside a see-through bag, and held together by rubber bands. (This honestly seemed unnecessary, as he essentially made it a point to throw it in my face that he had caught me red-handed).

They then asked if I had any “marijuana” on me personally, in which I admitted yes, and handed over the pre-rolls in the backpack. That wasn’t enough. They proceeded to search through every inch of my backpack (literally every inch), and confiscated the Dee Thai edibles I had brought for my trip from the U.S. to Barcelona to help me sleep on the long flight. I honestly forgot they were still there in the front pocket.

Now they became upset and proceeded to make me turn my pockets inside out to make sure I didn’t have anything on me. They didn’t even have the courtesy to put back my belongings where they found them, not to mention the main agent made a comment: “You were coming from the expo, huh?” I’m not quite sure if he used the word cannabis or not, but he was definitely addressing Spannabis. The comment seemed contradictory in that he knew this was for work purposes… yet I was still being treated like I did something extremely wrong.

I was instructed to take my belongings and follow them to their office so they can process this as a criminal record. Great.

After doing my research, it shows that as of today The Cannabis Act legalizes the use of cannabis for German residents aged 18 and above, with possession of up to 25 grams is allowed in public and up to 50 grams in private or at home. To drive the point even further, cannabis in Germany will be fully legal for recreational use for adults 18 and over starting April 1st of this year. What are the chances?!

Merely two weeks away and here I was at the airport, carrying weed that is completely legal in California. Would things have been different come April 1st? Trying to justify this in my head…

I couldn’t find any concrete information on whether or not flying with weed is illegal, but I was informed that you can’t have any amount at all in your possession. And if I had over a kilo, I would have been arrested.

When the reality settled in that I wouldn’t be flying home to Los Angeles as planned, I started to panic. I suffer from anxiety and depression, and particularly do not do well in situations that require a lot of patience. I asked him if I’d be able to get on the next flight out, but he dismissed my question.

They proceeded to walk to me to the car and drove me to their office at the other end of the airport. He read me my rights and asked if I wanted to contact a lawyer (I don’t have one…). There was a prolonged period of time of filling out paperwork, which included documenting every single item that was confiscated — including a CBD vape with LESS than 0.3% THC in it. Apparently, any amount of THC is flagged, assuming the letters THC on any label deems the product as illegal.

They took one eighth, and two cases of pre-rolls from Arts District Cannabis from my checked in luggage. I do influencer marketing back home in LA, so I actually brought these to gift influencers for work purposes, not to smoke it. I did bring an American Weed Co. container that had one pre-roll in it, equipped with CBN designed specifically to sleep. I knew the jetlag would affect me and had brought that specific joint to help me sleep.

The main officer saw my prescription bottles of Seroquel which I use for my depression and anxiety, and immediately confiscated it. I told him it was my medication, but per his reaction, it didn’t seem he believed in. He then did some Google searches on his phone before handing me back the bottles.

My weed use has always been medicinal over recreational, and now working in the industry, it baffles me that something completely legal where I live could result in these types of consequences.

After signing at least 12+ papers, they informed me it would be a fine of 500 Euros. More or less, roughly $550. This came after he asked me my income, how much I made in a month. Are the two correlated? He also asked if I had any cash on me before the interrogation.. not sure why.

They walked me over to the cashier to pay and then dropped me off at the Lufthansa service counter, where I had to take a number like the DMV! There were hoards of people waiting around, mostly because their flights were cancelled. I soon realized I was stranded in Munich, as this entire time was checking for outgoing flights on my iPhone. The only ones left were 24 hour options with multiple layovers in different cities. Plus I’d have to pay for the rebooking.

The tears came instantly as I couldn’t help but feel defeat. By the grace of God, I took initiative to walk up directly to one of the ladies at the service center to help me. I had about 30 people ahead of me that were supposed to be called upon, but I was so distraught and begged to speak with a manager.

Miraculously, I was told the original 12pm flight out of Munich was delayed. They had everyone deplane and pushed the flight back until 3pm. It was now 2:20pm, and I had roughly 15 minutes to get through security and passport control to run to catch this flight. Mind you, they had to locate my luggage after it had been confiscated.

I’ve been preaching how grateful and humbled I am to be able to travel to Spain for work because of the plant, I’d never anticipate the plant causing so much distress. I was very confused and couldn’t find the positive in the situation, other than the fact that the original flight was now delayed and I had hope of getting back home during the evening as planned.

As I write this on the plane, I’m still riled up at the disconnects. Cannabis is legal where I’m from! Cannabis is about to be legal in Germany… in a matter of 14 days. I had asked the police officer how often this happens, in which he responded “every day.” Every day they are catching people flying with weed and slapping them with this large fine. luckily I had my credit card on me, and had enough funds to be released.

I’m sure rocking a vibrant purple Cookies hoodie didn’t help my case, but I did explain to him my professional work in the field. It didn’t matter, and that to me, is truly unfair.

Taking my emotions out of the equation, this was definitely a lesson learned to never travel with weed again. I hope this helps anyone reading to also take the same precautions, as it was very apparent law enforcement show no grace when it comes to anything “marijuana” related.

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