August 12, 2019 6 min read
Cannabidiol, or CBD, has made a lot of long strides in just the past few months alone. After the legalization of hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill passed, CBD products have taken the market by storm in the most surprising ways. Now, Americans have questions, now more than ever, as to what qualifies as "legal" CBD products, along with bigger questions, like, 'Can I fly with CBD Oil?'
Today, we look to answer some of the questions that seem to be in some sort of legal haze; some think the answer is the opposite of what others in the very same state might think. So let's settle this once and for all - Can you fly with CBD oil on an airplane and what are the rules you should follow?
Before we break down the legality of CBD to be taken when you travel, let's do a recap: CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound that can be legally sold if it is extracted from a hemp plant that possesses less than 0.3% THC by volume. CBD has a variety of therapeutic properties being researched to this day, with new benefits being discovered through data and countless anecdotal review that help reinforce what we hope one day will be fully confirmed.
The 2018 Farm Bill brought about the legalization of industrial hemp on a state-by-state basis. By removing specifically hemp strains that contain 0.3% THC or less, they changed the legal definition of "hemp" to allow states to build their own hemp pilot programs. Some states have taken to the new laws with open arms, while others are hesitant to jump on board. Conversely, cannabis (hemp's THC-abundant cousin) continues to stay marketed as a Schedule I drug on a Federal level. While hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis has yet to be so lucky.
So, legal CBD products that contain less than the 0.3% THC mark must be grown from industrial hemp in the U.S., must be tested through a third-party lab for cannabinoid accuracy, and it must be confirmed that the product does not contain pesticides, herbicides, heavy metal, microbials, or any other pollutants or contaminants that aren't allowed in a high-quality CBD product. Finally, CBD is only legal if it's not added to beverages, food, or cosmetic products to be sold as a supplement - regardless of any origin it may have had. With those conditions in place, we've seen countless CBD brands spring up across the country, all sharing why they're the best and setting the standard for the rest of the industry.
One might say that CBD is increasingly difficult to ascertain its legality due to the vague distinction between hemp and cannabis. Just a few percentages higher in THC content and suddenly the product stops becoming a CBD product and instead becomes a THC product with CBD. With such hazy distinctions between what is legal and what is not, one has to wonder, is it really legal to fly across state (or international) lines while possessing a CBD product? Will they be able to see that it contains less than the 0.3% legal limit of THC, or will authorities be subject to detain the passenger so they can find out?
The FDA is the agency largely responsible for the regulation of CBD products. According to their stance on the compound, CBD products cannot be marketed as a supplement. Again, there is a hazy distinction because despite the Federal stance on these products, some State governments dictate varying levels of control over CBD, some outright banning it. By-and-large, we recommend keeping up to date with your local state's laws.
As for the legality of flying with CBD products, the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is responsible for travel within and outside the United States. According to their website, you are not permitted to bring such products on board. To quote the page directly, "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% THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by the FDA."
Okay, so CBD products are not expressly forbidden from airports, so does that mean you're safe? Well, not necessarily. Unfortunately, because of the TSA's current inability to distinguish between a hemp-derived or cannabis-derived product, there have been issues with letting passengers through with either item. The TSA tests the substance of the CBD product in front of you, with detectable amounts of THC leaving you alone in a room with a law enforcement officer. However, just because the test in front of you detects THC, and it may get you detained, the samples must still be sent off to a laboratory for additional testing - further wasting time and most likely the time and money you've spent to hop on a flight in the first place.
Realistically and depending the airport in which you are flying from, the TSA's stance on CBD and THC products lies lower than the urgency to stop something more serious, for example, weapons. Chances are, you should be able to take your products with you on a flight so as long as you follow this guide in doing so.
Alright, so you are convinced that the CBD oil needs to fly with you, otherwise, life is miserable right? How does one successfully take the product(s) into either your check and/or carry-on luggage? Chances are, since most CBD brands possess products that are NOT FDA-approved, one of the most surefire ways to ensure you are not stopped and potentially detained is to keep the CBD products in its original packaging. In a previous article, we outlined what to look for in a CBD product. If your research is as sound as ours, the brand in question should contain Supplement Facts, or at the very least, an ingredients list indicating what exactly is in your product.
As an extra level of security, you can even find the product's third party test reports and include that with your product in your baggage. When it comes to testing, brands are out to show the world that 1) their products are predominantly cannabidiol heavy, and 2) their products possess less than 0.3% THC which would effectively make their products legal. If it helps, try to incorporate the test report alongside your CBD product. Chances are, you'll breeze through security.
We are not here to tell you what you can and cannot do as you are all grown adults capable of doing that yourselves. Many within our community, however, share that they've flown with CBD products, either in their carry-on or main luggage, and still managed to get through security without TSA being any one the wiser - but we cannot, in good faith, recommend you to do that. We would never recommend breaking a law, hiding something from a security agency, or trying to sneak something on a plane when you know you may not be able to have it.
Travelers nowadays make the mistake of assuming Federal law can trump state law - but the opposite turns out to be true. States are permitted to implement as many additional regulations and restrictions than just the ones references in the 2018 Farm Bill, making certain state laws more stringent than others.
If you are considering flying with CBD oil or any other CBD product, check the laws relevant to hemp and cannabidiol for your state. Likewise, if you are planning to travel across state lines, check the state you are landing in as well - and check all the other states in between just for good measure. For example, Texas and Georgia are not as friendly as Colorado or California when it comes to any cannabis laws, so just make yourself the wiser by knowing the laws ahead of time. Should you consider bringing these products onto a plane, try to not give security the benefit of the doubt and provide all necessary data that would otherwise prove yourself.
The TSA is finally transitioning to allow CBD and other hemp-derived products onto their planes. The same couldn't be said even a year ago, so the fact that the TSA added that addition to their website back in May of 2019 is progress that we've been waiting to see for years. We look forward to a CBD industry that is better-regulated and handled better in the eyes of security and other law enforcement agencies. Until then, fly smart if you are going to fly at all; and just until they clarify further, maybe consider waiting until you get to your destination before you purchase any CBD.
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