In the last few years, CBD has gone from being a health supplement on the sidelines and entered the mainstream. The compound is now being added to everything from lotions to burgers.
However, there’s a large section of CBD users that take it on the recommendation of their physicians for therapeutic reasons. It is imperative that these users face no obstacles in taking their doctor-prescribed CBD, even when traveling.
This also happens to be the main reason that the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) recently updated their guidelines on traveling with CBD.
The new guidelines say that it is legal, but as with all things CBD related, this does come with some conditions.
What did the TSA change?
The TSA has a section of guidelines called ‘What Can I Bring?’, under which the medical marijuana portion was amended. The ‘no’ corresponding to medical marijuana was changed to ‘yes (with special instructions).
Here’s what it looks like:
What it looked like before:
What it looks like now:
What spurred this change?
After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, federal agencies like the TSA and USPS have been scrambling to amend their own laws, but apparently not fast enough.
The TSA was being inundated with inquiries about Epidiolex, an FDA approved drug to treat seizures in children that contains CBD oil. Families have been understandably concerned about whether or not they can carry Epidiolex on flights.
The TSA took cognizance of this and clarified their policy on the website.
Could you still get arrested for CBD at the airport?
Here’s the bottom line: you could, but it won’t be because of the TSA.
TSA (thankfully) no longer cares about your hemp-derived CBD. This change of heart comes from the fact that hemp-derived CBD is legal at the federal level with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Being a federal entity, the TSA must recognize federal laws, which means they allow CBD in both carry on or checked-in luggage.
But this doesn’t completely protect you from arrest.
Hemp-derived CBD may be legal at the federal level with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, but individual states are having a hard time catching up. Because state laws vary on the matter of CBD, if you get held up by local authorities in a state where CBD is not legal, you could still be arrested.
That’s not all: even if you happen to be in a state where CBD is legal and marijuana isn’t, you could still be arrested or held up at the very least.
TSA agents and police officers may not know the difference between hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD, and field tests for these things are notoriously unreliable and often turn up false positives.
Could you still get arrested for marijuana at the airport?
Absolutely! Marijuana and marijuana-derived CBD is still 100% illegal at the federal level. This is why it’s imperative to find out where your CBD comes from.
Some states may have legalized recreational marijuana use, but since the TSA is a federal entity, this makes no difference to them.
However, the TSA’s main job is to keep passengers and aircrafts safe. You can imagine that marijuana doesn’t pose too much of a threat to either, which is why they have stated on some occasions that they don’t actively search for it.
In their words, “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.”
Rough translation: ‘We won’t look for it, but if we chance upon it, we will report it.’
Reporting these matters don’t always lead to an arrest – sometimes just confiscation or penalties, but it’s best to be on the safe side with your federally legal, hemp-derived CBD.
CBD arrests at Dallas-Forth Worth Airport
Travelers flying with CBD breathed a sigh of relief at the new rules because, in the last year, CBD arrests had become somewhat commonplace at airports.
In April, a man traveling through Sioux Falls was arrested by local cops that had been tipped off by – of all people – a TSA agent.
The airport that really took the cake with CBD arrests, however, was Dallas Fort-Worth. At DFW, which is also the fourth largest airport in the country, a 71-year old grandmother was arrested for possession of CBD back in May.
Field tests for THC (which are notoriously unreliable) were conducted on travelers’ CBD oil and turned up positive, and no further testing was done to justify the arrest.
That being said, Texas also signed a hemp bill into law this June. It is now 100% legal to produce and buy hemp as well as hemp-derived CBD, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC.
How do I travel with CBD?
Here’s how to make sure you don’t get unnecessarily held up at the airport because of your CBD drops.
1. Use legal CBD.
The most obvious first step would be making sure your CBD is hemp-derived, and therefore federally legal. Marijuana-derived CBD is a big no. If you absolutely must carry marijuana-derived CBD oil, make sure it’s legal in both your origin and destination states.
2. Use THC-free CBD.
If you’re going to carry a blend with more than 0.3% THC, make sure marijuana is legal in both your origin and destination states.
3. Travel with drops, balms or capsules.
Minimize delays by avoiding dry herb CBD or CBD flowers. These tend to be more pungent than CBD vape oils or other inconspicuous products and are more likely to test positive for THC.
4. Carry third-party lab-tested CBD.
Don’t place your trust in field tests. More often than not, these are presumptive tests that don’t confirm the presence of a substance, but the possibility of its presence. Buy CBD from a brand that conducts third-party lab tests on their products to prove that the THC is less than 0.3%. Carry a hard copy of the Certificate of Analysis with you when flying with CBD.
State government organizations, as well as federal agencies, are working to make clearer policies on CBD use, which will hopefully herald a future where CBD users will not be constantly worried, especially when it comes to flying with CBD.
In August, the USDA will reportedly publish their rules for domestic hemp production which should be a turning point in the future of CBD.