Before you get on the plane for your holiday trip, like thousands of other people, you spend time putting your toothpaste, perfume and over-the-counter cold remedies in a quart-sized Ziploc bag, scrupulously weighing your luggage to make sure you’re not over the limit, and choosing shoes which come off easily in the TSA line.
But what about the CBD you’ve been using, legally, to relieve your anxiety? Holiday travel on an airplane is perhaps one of the most stressful parts of the season, so a little CBD may be just what you need to take the edge off.
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabidiol (CBD) is now legal, and widely available in all states. This rule removes hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC) is no longer a Schedule 1 controlled substance, a bill that was championed by both parties (especially in tobacco-producing states). The law allows for the growing, cultivation and sales of cannabidiol products.
We are of course, talking about legal CBD, which is derived from hemp and is not psychoactive. Traveling on an airplane with cannabis on the other hand, even if it is legal in your state, is never a good idea and will almost certainly land you in serious trouble. Most airports in the US now have drug-sniffing dogs who are routinely trotted by every piece of luggage at airport check-in. So it’s better to learn whatever state laws you can before taking the trip. Click here to know more.
And while those cute mutts will likely sniff out your stash of cannabis, they are highly trained to detect very specific scents, and it’s not likely they will single you out for a vial of legal CBD – so drug dogs shouldn’t be a concern.
But even though it’s legal now, how does the TSA feel about it? Have the marginally-paid and minimally-trained agents gotten the memo? Yes, you do have a right to carry legal CBD (with THC content under 0.3 percent) on a plane, but like many legal things, there are still those in power who will question that right.
Ultimately you will come out the other end of the line, but there is still a risk of intrusive actions on the part of officers, questioning and delaying you to the point of missing your flight, and most likely, with no apology.
When a 71-year-old grandmother was handcuffed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for having CBD oil in her bag, she was first held in the airport jail overnight, then moved to the county jail to face felony drug charges. And she isn’t the only one this has happened to.
Ultimately, the grand jury thought better of it and declined to move forward with the case, but traveling with CBD – especially with varieties which still contain trace amounts of THC – still occupies a grey area and there will always be that one Barney Fife TSA agent who is just a little bit too eager to make a bust.
Strictly speaking, the TSA policy says that, as of May of this year, CBD is allowed of it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Unclear labeling may cause the TSA agent to look twice and err on the side of caution, resulting in a delay for you, or worse, detention in the airport jail while they sort it out.
Ultimately, although TSA guidelines may have changed, the final decision still rests with the individual TSA officer. And if they do conduct a field test, be aware that not all field tests are very accurate, and some such tests cannot differentiate between legal CBD and illegal THC products.
The TSA’s website indicates that “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.” The site does indicate that TSA officers do not routinely search for marijuana, but if an “illegal substance” is discovered during screening, they will refer it to law enforcement.
And what about overseas flights?
That’s an even greyer area, and CBD is not legal in all countries – so bringing your legal CBD from the United States to Sweden, for example, will get you in some trouble when you land in Stockholm. European Union countries do allow CBD, but the standard is different.
Whereas in the United States, it is legal with THC content of under 0.3 percent, the EU standard is 0.2 percent, so if you’re taking the Continental tour, you might do better to bring pure CBD to isolate, which contains no CBD, as opposed to your ordinary over-the-counter CBD, bought in the US, which is more likely to be noncompliant with the EU standard.
The bottom line is that yes, TSA does, by its own stated rules, allow CBD on the plane, but since the final decision rests on the individual agent, there is still a risk involved.
If you do fly with a product, a certificate of analysis is a possible solution to make sure your cannabidiol oil is not a fraction of a percentage above the 0.3 percent limit (it happens, and it’s not all that unusual). Some, but not all, CBD products offer this type of certificate, so if you don’t have one, you may need to request it, or purchase a CBD product which does offer it and includes clear labeling.
Better yet, choose a “pure CBD isolate” oil that contains no THC at all, as opposed to a “full-spectrum” variety which may contain 0.3 percent.NugRepublic notes that this type of pure cannabidiol (CBD) “contains none of the psychoactive properties of THC, which is found in the marijuana plant.”
An easier solution maybe just to not trust in the judgment of underpaid TSA agents who may not be up to date on the law (or simply don’t care), leave it at home, buy another supply once you reach your destination and enjoy your trip.
In this article, we are talking if CBD is safe and legal to bring on your next trip in 2023