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The Rules of Flying with CBD Oil

CBD oil getting packed away into a suitcase before a flight

Once upon a time, flying with CBD oil would’ve landed you in trouble. However, we face a different reality today: flying with CBD is completely acceptable, according to the TSA. So how did we come to such an about-face on CBD airline policies?

For starters, CBD, which derives from hemp, was once considered a controlled substance. Although this compound does NOT induce intoxicating side effects like its cousin cannabinoid, THC, the two shared a definition under the law. Before 2018, hemp and marijuana were both called “cannabis,” a Schedule I narcotic under federal law.

Now, CBD oil is legal at the federal level. This started with the 2018 Farm Bill. Shortly after the federal government approved the 2018 Farm Bill, the TSA updated its flying policies. In short, traveling with CBD oil was now allowed.

But as you might expect, there are still some unanswered questions when it comes to flying with CBD oil. For example, if traveling with CBD oil is alright, what about other compounds from the cannabis plant? Also, how should you store your CBD goods when flying? Are there any extra steps you need to take?

TSA Guidelines on Flying with CBD

TSA stands for “Transportation Security Administration,” and it’s an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The TSA, in general, has authority over interstate travel within the United States.

So what does the TSA have to say about flying with CBD oil and other cannabis-related products?

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…TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities.

The TSA’s website also lists a disclaimer on traveling with CBD oil: “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”

Let’s take a look at these TSA-CBD guidelines step-by-step in order to better understand the rules and regulations of flying with CBD products.

“Marijuana and certain cannabis infused products…remain illegal under federal law”

What does the TSA mean by this? Well, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance at the federal level. And while more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, it’s important to remember that federal agencies govern the TSA.

Also, note that the TSA’s official rules state that some CBD products remain illegal under federal law. Remember how we said that CBD generally comes from hemp, a member of the cannabis plant family? Well, some CBD products are derived from marijuana. These marijuana-derived CBD products are generally considered a controlled substance by the federal government, as they tend to exceed the legal limit of 0.3% THC by dry weight.

As long as you’re traveling with CBD oil derived from hemp and that CBD oil doesn’t contain more than 0.3% THC, you’re completely within the rules of law!

“TSA officers are required to report any suspected violation of law to local, state or federal authorities”

This one’s a little trickier. To further explain this TSA rule, let’s set up an example.

In this example, you’re traveling with CBD oil derived from hemp. It contains no more than 0.3% THC. However, this particular CBD oil has a strong scent reminiscent of cannabis plants. Both THC and CBD oil tinctures share a similar scent profile. To the untrained nose (a TSA agent’s nose), you might be suspected of carrying THC oil instead of CBD oil.

According to these regulations (and considering the TSA’s general lack of understanding), you are then reported to the appropriate law officers. Sucks, right? But this is where TSA guidelines for flying with CBD get a little murky. The TSA cannot test your CBD products at the gate. They do not carry THC or CBD testers with them.

How do they know if you’re carrying CBD instead of THC, especially considering that some CBD products (like CBD dabs or CBD edibles) look strikingly similar to their THC counterparts?

In short: they don’t. The TSA has always done what the TSA deems as appropriate with little to no outside council.

“The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint”

This is more of a continuation of our last point above. Let’s consider our previous example in light of this TSA statement.

If the final decision on whether or not you’ll be reported for a “suspected violation” rests with the TSA officers, you should be upfront with them on what you’re carrying. Trying to conceal CBD products within your bag might raise suspicions. Don’t directly tell the TSA: “I’m flying with CBD oil!” However, you should leave your CBD products in easy view in case they do decide to open your carry-ons.

Tips for Abiding by TSA Guidelines

We wanted to cover the TSA rules for flying with CBD oil in detail because there often seems to be some confusion on these regulations. However, it would help if you didn’t overthink it when traveling with CBD oil.

For starters, CBD oil is legal at the federal level. Flying with CBD is completely within your rights, no questions asked. CBD products that meet the requirements set by the 2018 Farm Bill – including ALL products at CBD Choice – are not considered controlled substances.

Plus, depending on where you live, the TSA might not confiscate your cannabis products at all. For example, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) announced in 2018 that they would no longer confiscate low amounts of cannabis products, including marijuana. Remember that marijuana was recreationally legalized in the state in 2016, so your state might not be as lax.

Make sure to check all the laws surrounding cannabis plants and their byproducts in your state before bringing cannabis on planes!

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