TSA Update: Flying With Some CBD Oil Is Now Okay
The TSA says some CBD oil and FDA-approved medications are cleared for take-off.
Recreational and medical marijuana is legal in some states, but the TSA has always been clear that flying with any form of marijuana was illegal. But that changed over the weekend, when the TSA quietly updated its “What can I bring?” page on medical marijuana to note that passengers can now fly with some forms of CBD oil and one hemp-derived medication approved by the FDA.
Yesterday on Twitter, the @AskTSA account advised a traveler that ” Products that contain hemp-derived CBD oil or are FDA-approved are generally legal & can fly.”
The TSA said the change was prompted by the only Food and Drug Administration-approved drug that contains CBD oil, Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizures in children with epilepsy.
The notation on medical marijuana now reads:
“Possession of marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and certain cannabis infused products.
Products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the FDA are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018.
TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
In the past, the TSA did not differentiate between marijuana and some hemp-derived products. Hemp derivatives contain little to no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that produces a high.
The new rule does not change the TSA’s ban on other forms of marijuana, including cannabis-infused products and CBD oils that contain THC. But it’s unclear how TSA officers would know whether a substance contained THC, since the TSA does not do on-site testing at airport security checkpoints. If there is a doubt, a TSA spokesperson said the matter would be referred to local law enforcement.
“This is an interesting development, but demonstrates several things,” says David Bannard, an attorney with Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP in Boston, who consults with airports on marijuana and other regulatory issues.”First, this confirms the split between the federal regulatory regime and those states that have legalized marijuana for certain uses, especially for recreational use. Second, it also shows that Congress is beginning to follow the general public and may presage the devolution of regulation of marijuana to the states. Lastly, it does not mean that it is legal to fly with marijuana products in one’s possession — that remains impermissible under federal law.”
As the TSA’s “What can I bring?” page notes, “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”
Can You Travel with CBD Oil? What’s the Best Kind?
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You can get CBD oil in your coffee, buy CBD oil bath bombs, CBD oil lotions, and even CBD oil dog treats. It’s a buzz-worthy topic in the health and wellness space, but many travelers are left confused about its legality, especially when they’re considering taking certain products on a plane or traveling internationally.
First off, let’s define what CBD oil actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, CBD is “a nonintoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp,” and that CBD oils contain cannabidiol. The types of oils that we’re referring to are oils derived from the hemp plant (not marijuana) and contain only a minimal amount (less than 0.3 percent) of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the intoxicating or psychoactive compound of the plant that makes users feel “high.” It’s common knowledge that this minimal amount of THC does not produce noticeably intoxicating side effects.
Thanks to some recent legal changes around CBD at the federal level, it’s becoming a bit more straightforward. Here’s what I learned about traveling with CBD oil after speaking with Sherri Tutkus, BSN-RN and founder/CEO of the GreenNurse Group, and Joshua Bauchner, a lawyer for the Canafarma Corporation.
Traveling with CBD Oil Domestically
The type of CBD oil that’s derived from hemp oil is what’s legal at a federal level (as of the 2018 Farm Bill) and therefore allowed to be taken across state borders, and, yes, on flights. Other CBD oils, like the type that’s derived from marijuana, are still illegal in some states—so it’s not recommended to take those types across state borders.
You can tell the difference between the two types of CBD oil by reading the product’s label and identifying the amount of THC in it. Only hemp-derived CBD oils (with THC levels below 0.3 percent) are legal to fly with or be taken across state borders in the U.S. It’s also important to note that while CBD oil is legal at the federal level, certain state laws vary in terms of possession of any type of CBD oil.
Here’s the status of flying with CBD oil in the U.S. as of January 2020, according to the TSA’s website:
“Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities.
“TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
Here’s a more light-hearted explanation from TSA’s Instagram:
As an extra cautionary step, double-check the CBD oil possession laws of both the state you’re traveling to and the state you’re traveling from. The website CBD Origin recommends printing out a product’s lab report and have it available if needed to verify the cannabinoid content to any inquiring authorities. And if you’re traveling with CBD oil products as medication, you should always travel with your prescription handy, as you would any other prescribed medicine.
“Consumers can consider traveling with CBD products to be the same as traveling with any other over-the-counter supplements,” says Joshua Bauchner, Canafarma Corp. Legal Counsel. “TSA guidelines as of January 2020 specifically state that consumers can travel with CBD products as long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis, or that are approved by the FDA.”
Traveling with CBD Oil Outside of the U.S.
International rules and regulations on CBD are less clear, so if you’re looking to travel abroad with CBD oil you’ll need to research the laws of the country you’re traveling to. However, professionals strongly advise to err on the side of caution and leave products with any cannabinoids (including hemp-derived oils) at home, especially because some countries have much stricter drug laws.
Cruising regulations for CBD oil are confusing. Some cruise lines ban CBD oil altogether, so it’s best to contact the cruise line directly if you need to travel with CBD oil on your cruise. Remember, there are security scanners as you board a cruise ship, so there’s no hiding CBD products.
The Benefits of CBD Oil for Travelers
CBD oil has many uses. It can help travelers regulate their body’s organs, immune system, and neurotransmitter signaling systems, which can help alleviate symptoms of jet lag, anxiousness, and sleeplessness.
For travelers specifically, Tutkus recommends CBD oil “for long flights to decrease stiffness and soreness, to help regulate sleep patterns with time change and jet lag, and to help decrease anxiety related to the unknowns of traveling.” She says “some people have even replaced their prescription [bensodiazepines] with CBD oil, instead of having to take a Xanax or Ativan prior to a flight.”
If you’re nervous about flying with any of these products in your possession, then take it ahead of your flight and find a legal place to buy it on the ground.
What to Look for When Purchasing CBD Oil for Travel
If you’re looking to purchase CBD oil for travel, use the acronym ‘FLOW’ which is a way to choose a product that is up to cannabis-nurse-approved standards:
F: Flowering Strains of Hemp or Cannabis
L: Lab tested for purity and potency, COA
According to Tutkus, you should also ask the following questions:
- Is it made from industrial hemp or flowering strains of hemp?
- What is the extraction process?
- What is the carrier oil?
- Is it whole plant?
- Is it tested for purity and potency?
- Is there a certificate of analysis that reflects what the label says?
Again, only hemp-derived CBD oils (with THC levels below 0.3 percent) are legal to fly with or be taken across state borders in the U.S.
Additionally, the FDA has separate regulations on CBD oil labeling, including that it cannot be marketed as a dietary supplement—that information can be found here.
Tips for Traveling with CBD Oil
There are a variety of different types of ways to consume CBD oil including topical creams, edibles (which have been questioned in terms of effectiveness), and vaping devices. Here’s the lowdown on traveling with each.
For all edibles, gels, lotions, oils, and other liquids, you should follow and comply with normal TSA 3-1-1 rules when you’re traveling with CBD oil. You don’t need to declare them separately, but you shouldn’t hide them, either. While the TSA’s statements make it seem like they are not looking for cannabis products, you’re still subject to search, which could lead to delays at the airport.
According to the TSA, you may bring electronic devices and vaping devices (including batteries and atomizers) stored in your carry-on bags, but not checked bags.
The only type of CBD oil product that Tutkus doesn’t recommend traveling with in the U.S. is hemp flower, because of its similarities to the cannabis flower. Lab results are the only way to tell the difference between the two plants.
The Best Types of CBD Oil to Travel With
Irie Bliss also makes a CBD Pain Balm stick (similar to a deodorant stick) that can be applied as a roll-on for quick application. And Jules Battel NP-BC for the GreenNurse Group says she’s, “a big fan of the tiny sublingual oral spray”.
Bauchner recommends other alternatives like Yooforic’s Hemp-Oil Infused Chewing Gum, and Organic Hemp Oil Tincture as they don’t require a vaporizer to consume.
Other FAQs About Traveling with CBD Oil
Can dogs detect CBD oil at airports?
“Most scent dogs are actually trained to smell terpenes, which are the components in the plant that give the plant its smell and flavor,” Tutkus says. “These dogs usually don’t react to hemp-extracted CBD oil products because the terpene levels are so small that it won’t catch the dog’s attention. If the CBD product is the whole plant and rich in aromatic terpenes there is a possibility that the drug-sniffing dog could smell it.”
Do you have to declare CBD oil when traveling?
According to the TSA’s above statements, you do not need to declare CBD oil products that are federally legal in the U.S.
Can you have CBD oil in national parks?
National parks fall under federal regulation; you can have hemp-derived CBD oils in national parks but nothing more, regardless of the state’s law on other CBD and cannabis products.
If you have any other questions about traveling with CBD oil, send us a note at [email protected]
About our sources:
Sherri Tutkus, BSN-RN, has been a registered nurse for more than 30 years and is the founder and CEO of GreenNurse Group, Medical Director at Irie Bliss Wellness, and a member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association and the Cannabis Nurses Network.
Joshua Bauchner is the legal counsel for Canafarma Corp., a vertically-integrated enterprise that controls its CBD/Hemp Oil products from seed-to-counter.