I like to write ‘the simple answer is’ when creating articles, but unfortunately, there is no such thing as a quick and easy answer when it comes to traveling with CBD. First and foremost, I would like to point out that you travel with CBD at your own risk. It is a complex situation not helped by a lack of common sense being applied to the entire marijuana plant question.
As you probably know by now, marijuana is legal to use on a medical or recreational level in 33 states plus D.C., but it remains federally illegal. In other words, the feds could technically break into your California home and arrest you for growing the herb, despite the practice of cultivating herb being perfectly legal in the Golden State.
Matters don’t get any less complicated when it comes to CBD, the non-intoxicating compound in the cannabis sativa and industrial hemp plants. As the latter is now legal to grow in the U.S., if your CBD comes from it, the substance is legal. However, if the CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, it remains illegal because the Controlled Substances Act’s definition of marihuana includes all parts of the plant.
Back in 2014, the Farm Bill defined hemp as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC. The 2018 Farm Bill allows for ‘interstate commerce’ of hemp-derived products.
This Means I Can Bring CBD From Hemp on a Plane… Right?
Not. So. Fast. This issue is so confusing that even major publications are guilty of publishing incorrect information. If you live in the United States, your first port of call is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website. According to its security screening page, it clearly states that “possession of marijuana and cannabis-infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law.”
The TSA’s stance has not changed since the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill and, crucially, it does not differentiate between marijuana and hemp. Remember, the TSA operates under federal law, so it doesn’t matter if weed is legal in your state; or even if you are flying from one legal state to another.
TSA officers are instructed to report suspected violations of the law, which include possession of weed or marijuana-infused products. As the TSA is focused on passenger safety, their officers don’t necessarily search for weed, but if they happen to come across a hemp or marijuana product, they will inform airport security.
Therefore, you can take CBD with you when flying, but you are taking a massive risk. Even if you get past the security screenings, there is the small matter of customs checkpoints on international flights, not to mention DEA agents. Even if you are ‘only’ caught with CBD, you are still likely to be taken away by the airport police and face an interrogation. If you are eventually allowed to walk away without a charge (NOT a guarantee by the way), you will almost certainly miss your flight.
The Farm Bill of 2018 Should Change Everything Though?
Perhaps, but don’t expect the changes to happen overnight. When President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill in December, he was merely continuing the process of signing a version of the bill; something which has happened every five years since 1933. On this occasion, however, it took hemp and hemp derivatives out of Schedule I status on the Controlled Substances Act.
In other words, hemp products are no longer considered to be the same as marijuana. If you think this means the end of hemp prohibition, think again! Yes, the United States Department of Agriculture regulates hemp, but the compound CBD remains illegal under American federal law.
The DEA is not helping to alleviate the confusion either. The agency has various ‘classifications’ for CBD. For example, if the CBD has less than 0.1% THC and is approved by the FDA, it is considered a Schedule V drug by the DEA. In other words, it is placed in the same bracket as prescription medication. However, Epidiolex is the only CBD product approved by the FDA, which considers all other forms to be the same as heroin!
While the Farm Bill has improved the hemp landscape immeasurably, it includes a provision which enables states to create more stringent laws. For the record, you could get into trouble for buying, selling, or using CBD in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho.
All of the above makes things rather murky when it comes to bringing CBD on a plane. The CEO of Life Elements, Curt Van Inwegen, claims that the TSA will leave you alone as long as you abide by the two-ounce rule. He goes on to say that TSA officers don’t look for CBD tinctures, edibles, or anything else that doesn’t resemble a bag of marijuana. You could take the labels off the products if you are extra nervous according to Van Inwegen.
However, I have to point out that Life Elements is a CBD company, so the cynic in me says the firm’s CEO will obviously have a vested interest in people traveling with CBD.
As for other forms of travel within the United States, it should be okay to cross state lines with CBD. However, once again, you do so at your own risk!
What About Other Countries?
Transport Canada announced that passengers on domestic flights were allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in their checked or carry on baggage as of October 17, 2018. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) updated their screening procedures to reflect the changes brought about by the Cannabis Act.
Therefore, you should be able to bring cannabis or CBD oil in carry-on luggage, as long as it adheres to the usual on-board liquid limits. Please note that this is ONLY the case for flights within Canada. It remains illegal to fly internationally from Canada with marijuana.
Confusion reigns in the United Kingdom after it became legal for doctors to prescribe cannabis-based medicine to qualifying patients on November 1, 2018. Once again, I have to tell you that you bring CBD on a plane in the UK at your own risk. While you should be okay on domestic flights, there is a chance that airport security will ask you some awkward questions.
If you are traveling to places like New Zealand or Australia, CBD may not be allowed due to both nations’ strict stance on the restriction of fauna and plants. When in doubt, it is best to contact the airline and ask whether or not it is legal (or advisable) to bring CBD aboard the plane.
Final Thoughts on Travelling With CBD
Aside from domestic Canadian flights, it is best if you follow the ‘when in doubt, leave it out’ mantra with regards to packing CBD. If you believe you need to use cannabidiol to take the edge off your nerves, consider using an edible or capsule before your flight, and before you check in your bags or go through security. By doing so, at least you get the calming effects of the compound without risking arrest.
Some readers will doubtless ignore the multiple warnings I have given in this article and bring CBD with them when boarding a plane. In this case, you need to ensure any CBD bottle you bring has less than 100ml of liquid in it; and it would also be wise to take the labels off the bottle just in case.
In summation, as the TSA still follows federal rules, and has yet to update its regulations to reflect the separation of hemp from marijuana. Therefore, it is still liable to stop travelers in possession of CBD and hand them over to airport security. While you may not end up in prison, it is an inconvenience you could do without. My advice would be to play the waiting game and avoid bringing CBD on a plane until the TSA provides us all with a favorable update.