Is it legal to fly with CBD?

Many people use cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-intoxicating substance found in cannabis because it induces anxiety relief and relaxation. Studies have yet to prove beyond a doubt how exactly CBD produces specific effects. Still, they do know it interacts with serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that has a role in regulating mood, fear, and anxiety. When the US passed the Farm Bill in 2018, hemp, one kind of cannabis, became legal to cultivate, sell, and use broadly. This means that hemp-derived CBD became legal as well. Still, flying with any kind of cannabis product feels a little weird given that marijuana, another type of cannabis, is still a schedule 1 drug, according to the US government. So what exactly are the rules about flying with CBD?

Can you bring CBD on airplanes?

Flying with marijuana is not legal in the US, despite marijuana being legal in many states. However, flying with some forms of CBD oil and products has finally been officially permitted by the TSA. As long as the CBD came from hemp and not marijuana, you’re legally allowed to fly with it now. In addition, any FDA-approved product with CBD in it is fine to fly with as well. To date, there is only one CBD-based drug approved by the FDA, which is Epidiolex, a medication that treats epileptic seizures.

The FDA’s specific language states, “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.” They made sure to clarify that any CBD oil derived from marijuana remains illegal, and TSA officers should report the possession of these products the same way they would report the possession of marijuana.

That being said, know that the TSA does not screen for marijuana or illegal drugs specifically, only potential threats to aviation. Still, if you’ve searched for another reason and some unlawful substance is found, they will hand you over to local law enforcement. Before announcing these new rules permitting some CBD products on airplanes, the TSA treated all cannabis products the same: illegal. This was true even though hemp-derived CBD contains less than 1% THC, the psychoactive, intoxicating chemical found in cannabis.

Can TSA tell the difference between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD?

TSA does not perform on-site testing at airport security checkpoints, so they would have a hard time determining if CBD oil contains THC or has been derived from hemp or marijuana. When in doubt, they would hand the case over to local law enforcement. In the end, the TSA officer is the one to decide whether or not to let you CBD oil through airport security. If it seems like it has THC in it, they might not let you through.

It is commonly known in the cannabis community that certain kinds of CBD oil invariably contain THC. Any product labeled full-spectrum CBD will contain trace amounts of THC. People opt for full-spectrum CBD because it contains the whole plant, which is said to be more effective therapeutically than CBD that has been completely isolated. The amount of THC in full-spectrum CBD is very little, definitely not enough to give you “high.” Still, if a TSA officer happens to know what full-spectrum CBD is, there is a chance they won’t let you pass. That being said, full-spectrum CBD can be derived from either hemp or marijuana, and there isn’t much way to tell which is which.

Some CBD products are specifically labeled as “hemp-derived” for reasons of legality. Companies often want to make it clear that their CBD products are legal across all 50 states, not just in states where marijuana is legal, so they include this information on their labels. CBD oil that is labeled as hemp-derived should be safe to bring on an airplane and keep TSA officers from potentially questioning you as a general rule.

Until the FDA begins approving and regulating CBD products, they will continue to remain in a gray area. While most of the time flying with CBD should pose no problems for you, if you happen to run into a strict TSA officer in a state that continues with strict laws about cannabis, you might get stopped. In the end, if your CBD is legal by their standards, no legal action will be taken, but the inconvenience of dealing with TSA and perhaps missing your flight because it could be frustrating.

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