It’s an exciting time in the alternative health community. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, it’s now federally legal to consume hemp-derived CBD products. Also in 2018 medical marijuana became legal and accessible in several more states around the U.S. Needless to say, 2018 was a big year for supporters of cannabis.
So, what does this all mean for flight passengers? Does it mean people can fly with hemp-derived CBD products and medical marijuana? Well, the short answer is yes and no. The long answer involves a complete understanding of the laws. Besides knowing your rights as a flight passenger, it’s critical to know your rights as a cannabis user. Because the spotlight on cannabis still exists.
Before packing your bags for your upcoming flight, consider reading this article. It will cover information about current TSA guidelines, clarification on what’s allowed and what’s not, along with packing and traveling tips.
Flying with CBD Checklist:
- Must contain less than 0.3% THC
- Must be derived from Hemp and not Marijuana
- Carry a printed copy of the TSA’s documented regulations
- Print a copy of the lab report verifying the THC content
- Your CBD should be packed with your other TSA approved liquids
- Know the laws about CBD in the state your traveling
- International travelers should consult the local authorities before packing your CBD
The TSA guidelines for flying with CBD oil
Up until recently, the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) website listed CBD as a prohibited item, in both carry-on bags and checked luggage. Yet, this was an oversight on their part. The section on their website called ‘What Should I Bring,’ didn’t get updated after the 2018 Farm Bill became law on December 20, 2018. This law removed hemp from the federal list of Schedule I controlled substances. Also, stated under this law, any hemp-derived CBD product must contain less than 0.3 percent THC for it to be legal.
Once the mistake was presented to the TSA, they quickly updated their security guidelines around flying with medical marijuana. Their website now states the following. “Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil remain illegal under federal law."
Yet, there is an exception to this law that the TSA clarified. Passengers can travel with "products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by the FDA.”
So, that means flying with CBD oil made from hemp is now legal, as long as the THC levels are less than 0.3 percent. You can also fly with other CBD products as long as they’re FDA-approved CBD medications. And, according to the updated TSA guidelines, you can bring approved CBD products with you in your carry-on bags or inside your checked luggage.
Even though laws are more lenient for cannabis users than ever before, it’s still important to understand the laws in their entirety. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty.
Which plant does your CBD product derive from?
Do you plan to fly with your hemp-derived CBD products or your marijuana-derived CBD products? Both the hemp and marijuana plants are members of the cannabis family, but only hemp is legal under federal law. So, making this distinction matters because you’re not allowed to take CBD products derived from the marijuana plant with you on the plane.
Even though recreational and medical marijuana is legal in some states, it’s still illegal at the federal level. And the federal government has jurisdiction over airports and airplanes, which allows them to enforce these laws.
TSA’s screening procedures
The focus of TSA screening procedures is on security. Thus, the procedures performed by TSA officers are in place to detect potential threats to airline passengers or the plane. As such, TSA security officers aren’t deliberately searching for marijuana or other drugs. Yet, if they happen to find an illegal substance during their screening process, they must report it to a law enforcement agent. But, in the end, the decision to allow an item through security rests in the hands of the TSA officer.
As a passenger, it could help to memorize or print out the TSA’s specific guidelines about flying with CBD. This will empower you to argue your case if your CBD product gets identified as ‘suspicious’ during the security screening. If your CBD product adheres to the federal guidelines, you should be able to take it with you on the plane.
Can I fly with medical marijuana?
The current federal classification of marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance. That means it's NOT legal to travel with marijuana. Even if you live in a legal state and have your medical marijuana card and a doctor’s recommendation, the answer is still no. The same goes for CBD products derived from marijuana. Even if you fly within a state where marijuana is legal for recreational and medical uses, federal law trumps state law.
As stated earlier, federal authorities have jurisdiction over airports and airplanes. So, they decide what ‘flies’ and what doesn’t. If you choose to take any marijuana products with you to the airport, you run the risk of getting detained or even arrested. So, it's best to leave those types of products at home, to avoid an interruption in your travel plans or possibly worse.
Now that we’ve covered the laws and TSA’s guidelines for flying with CBD, let us provide some helpful tips. We hope these tips can make your experience at the airport seamless when traveling with approved CBD products.
Review the CBD product’s lab report
Reviewing third-party lab testing reports is a wise decision for several reasons. First, not all CBD products are derived from high-quality hemp. Nor are they made using safe or ideal manufacturing and processing practices. As such, the CBD product could be poor quality and contain a low cannabinoid count. So, before you buy a CBD product, read over the lab report in detail to ensure you’re buying the best possible product.
Secondly, it's helpful to review the report, also referred to as the Certificate of Analysis (COA), before flying with CBD. The product labeling could say the contents contain less than 0.3 percent THC or zero traces of THC. Yet, the lab report is more conclusive than product labeling. And it could carry more weight and credibility in the eyes of a TSA security officer.
Furthermore, having a copy of the lab report, that shows acceptable levels of THC, can prove that your CBD product is legal to take onboard. Printing a copy of the report is not mandatory, but good to have in case you encounter any issues during the security screening.
Follow TSA’s packing guidelines
When traveling with liquids, the TSA only allows 3.4 ounces of liquid per container. So, if you plan to take your CBD oil, tincture, or salve on your flight, confirm the contents meet this rule. Another guideline to be aware of is the bag size restriction. TSA advises passengers to keep all their liquid-based items in one bag. This bag can be no larger than one quart (four cups).
So, pack your lotions, gels, and other items with your legally accepted CBD products into one bag. When arriving at TSA’s security screening, place this bag of liquids on the security belt. Doing so facilitates the screening process.
Research the laws of the state you're flying to
Even though hemp-derived CBD that contains less than 0.3 percent THC is legal under federal law, there are some states that consider it to be illegal. The 2018 Farm Bill permits the shipment of CBD hemp products to all states, but the Bill doesn’t regulate possession. Each individual state makes the call on that one.
Thankfully, the majority of states have no issues with consuming or possessing hemp-derived CBD. Only Idaho, South Dakota, Hawaii, and Nebraska do. So, knowing the handful of states with their own set of laws may help you better prepare you for your trip.
What about international flights?
Although flying with CBD is legal on domestic flights, different laws apply to international flights. Security tends to be stricter when you fly internationally. So, the likelihood of getting screened for having CBD products also tends to be higher. Even if you argue that your CBD product has less than 0.3 percent THC, that country could have other laws around CBD.
Getting stopped or questioned by a government official in a foreign country is not a risk worth taking. But, and often there's a but, you can contact the customs office or airport personnel in the country you’re traveling to. Inquire about their local laws. CBD could be legal in their country, but flying with CBD might be illegal.
- TSA regulations allow passengers to travel with hemp-derived CBD products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Also, FDA-approved CBD medications can come with you on the plane.
- Airports and airplanes fall under federal jurisdiction. Thus, federal law governs what's allowable on the plane and what’s not. Even with a state-approved medical marijuana card, you cannot fly with marijuana-derived CBD.
- Know your rights: before heading off to the airport, read the TSA’s policy on flying with CBD. Print a copy if you want. If your CBD product is compliant, you shouldn’t have an issue during the security screening.
- Review the lab testing reports on your CBD product to ensure the levels of THC fall under 0.3 percent. If it’s less than 0.3 percent print a copy and bring it with you to the airport. Show it to authorities in case your CBD oil gets questioned.
- Pack your CBD oil, tincture, and salve in the same bag with your other carry-on liquids.
- Know the laws of the state you’re traveling to. A few states in the U.S. consider the possession of CBD to be illegal.
- Before flying with CBD on your international flight, contact local customs and the country’s airport to inquire about their laws. But, to err on the side of caution, it might be best to leave your CBD products at home when flying abroad.
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