The TSA’s New Rules on CBD

Can I fly with CBD?

People take CBD oil for various reasons: some enjoy the relaxing effects, some consume it as a supplement, and another large group of people that take it on the recommendation of their physicians. Users have been concerned recently about CBD confiscations and arrests at airports, like the recent ones at Dallas airport. They’ll all be glad to know that the TSA has recently updated its website to say that CBD is legal to carry on flights – in most cases. In this article, we break down the TSA statement so you know exactly what is and isn’t allowed.

Where was the change made?

The specific section of the website that was changed was the medical marijuana segment of ‘What Can I Bring?’. The ‘no’ corresponding to medical marijuana was changed to ‘yes (with special instructions)’.

What the section looked like before.
What it looks like now.

Could you get arrested for CBD at an airport?

Short answer: yes, but it wouldn’t be the TSA making the arrest. The TSA states that all CBD derived in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill is legal, but state laws still vary on the matter. If the airport of your departure or arrival has different laws for CBD, you could get arrested or have your CBD confiscated by local authorities.

The TSA, on the other hand, is purely concerned with federal law, which is why they say you’re free to carry CBD in your cabin or checked in baggage. Again, this applies only if your CBD is produced in accordance with the Farm Bill. How do you know if your CBD is legal? Derived from hemp: legal. Derived from marijuana: illegal.  

If an agent from the TSA were to find marijuana or marijuana-derived CBD, you could definitely be arrested for those. Another possibility is that a TSA agent or local police officer isn’t able to differentiate between legal and illegal CBD, leading to screening delays at the very least.

Can you get arrested for marijuana at an airport?

As the Transport Security Administration, the TSA is most concerned with the safety of flyers and aircrafts. Marijuana and marijuana products don’t really fall within their purview, hence the following statement:

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.”

This means they won’t go looking for it, but if they chance upon marijuana or marijuana-derived CBD substances, TSA agents will always have to report it to local authorities.

Some states have laws permitting marijuana use, but it is still illegal at the federal level. That’s why the TSA views the compound THC and marijuana itself as illegal, regardless of whether the state has legalized recreational or medical use.

If one were to get caught with marijuana or marijuana-derived CBD, it doesn’t necessarily mean an arrest though: depending on the origin and destination, measures could vary from arrest to confiscation to no penalty at all.

Previous changes to the TSA website.

In April 2017, the TSA changed the response on the medical marijuana section of the ‘What Can I Bring?’ page indicating that medical marijuana was okay to carry in luggage. The change garnered tons of media attention, after which the TSA retracted the change and tweeted that it was an error.

Shortly after, the TSA clarified that cannabis was most definitely illegal, whether medical or otherwise:

“Whether or not marijuana is considered legal under local laws is not relevant to TSA screening… Federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana,” effectively saying that no cannabis substances are allowed by the TSA. Thankfully, the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill has prompted several federal agencies to clarify their policies.

Why did the TSA make the change?

A spokesperson for the TSA said it was brought to their attention that families were unsure about the legality of carrying Epodiolex on flights. Epidiolex is an FDA approved drug containing CBD oil and is used to treat seizures in children with certain types of epilepsy. They made the change to their website to affirm that it is, in fact, legal.

How to avoid hassles at the airport

If you’re carrying or plan to carry CBD, make sure you’re covered on the following points.

  • Make sure your CBD is hemp-derived and contains less than 0.3% THC. You should be able to find this info on the manufacturer’s website. If you absolutely must carry CBD that has more THC than that, make sure marijuana is legal in your state of origin and departure.
  • Choose a CBD brand that conducts third-party lab tests on their products. These tests will confirm the percentage of THC in the product, so you can present a printout or digital copy to an officer if they stop you.
  • To be on the safer side, opt for a brand that has 0% THC and says so on the label – this could be a huge time saver!

Future CBD laws

CBD users have reason to rejoice: on May 31st, the USDA and FDA conducted a hearing during which they would be presented with data on CBD in supplements and food. What this means is that there could soon be a future wherein you can have your CBD on you all the time, wherever you are in the country.

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