Traveling With CBD – What You Need To Know
With the recent boom in popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) products, both in the wellness industry and the medical industry, the question of legality has been revisited many times. While many states have legalized marijuana and CBD products in recent years, any product containing over 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is still considered illegal on the federal level. Because of this “loop-hole” – so to speak – large, federal organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have been charged with formulating their own guidelines for how to recognize CBD.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) often finds itself in a precarious position when it comes to travelers flying with CBD supplements, CBD edibles, and even CBD in medicines, because of the differences among the states in the legalization of CBD. So, to fly or not to fly with CBD? That is the question.
In 2018, the Farm Bill was signed, making it federally legal to produce, buy and use CBD, mainly only if it is derived from hemp and does not exceed certain requirements and regulations, particularly around the amount of THC in the products. As previously mentioned, a CBD product must contain 0.3% THC or less in order to be considered legal under the Farm Bill. While states can implement their own, additional restrictions on the THC levels in products, it is still notoriously challenging to pinpoint the exact amount of THC in a CBD product.
Among the 34 states in the U.S. where marijuana use has been legalized, 11 of those states have also legalized recreational marijuana. Because there are numerous ways for CBD to be used, the black and white issue of if CBD is legal or illegal has been muddied. For example, when companies started adding CBD to foods and beverages, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had very little oversight in regulating how states were managing the safety of those products. While some states have since established rules and requirements for labeling CBD products or introduced strict licensing requirements, some have chosen to leave it up to the consumer and the CBD company to determine the safety and usage guidelines of their products.
Most reputable CBD companies provide lab testing results from an independent, third-party lab to demonstrate how much THC is in their products, but unless a consumer is carrying their certificate of analysis providing those test results, law enforcement personnel may have no way of knowing the actual amount. Recently, there have been cases of individuals being detained in airports because of carrying CBD, which demonstrates that the rules about traveling with CBD remain indefinite.
Can I Fly With CBD?
Because TSA falls under the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, they are subject to following federal laws. On the TSA web page, the following legal policy is made clear:
“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. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities.
TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, 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.”
The keywords that should JUMP out at anyone who is reading this policy is that TSA officers have to report “suspected violations.” As we are all aware, suspected violations are largely subjective and vary from person to person. There is no real way for TSA officers to know how to distinguish between a marijuana product and a CBD product without having a certificate of analysis present from the lab where the product was made, or, by testing the product on their own terms. This may mean that, if a TSA officer does report the violation, a preliminary field test may be done to detect marijuana levels and, if found, the product would be sent to another lab for testing. In either case, a finding of marijuana may lead to an arrest.
If you are traveling to a state where CBD is legal, perhaps returning home from a vacation or work trip, TSA officers may choose to work with local law enforcement personnel to determine the consequences for travelers based on how much CBD they are carrying and for what purposes they are carrying it. If an arrest is not warranted for these reasons, they may enforce fines or traveling penalties. Becoming familiar with state laws is a wise choice if you are planning to fly with CBD in the future.
On the international front, regulations are typically much more strict. Some countries have extremely tight regulations and policies when it comes to carrying substances. For example, the United Arab Emirates has a minimum jail sentence of four years if someone is found carrying any drugs, even in residual amounts. Having detectable levels of drugs in your system via a drug test is also considered drug possession in this country. In Indonesia, laws on carrying marijuana and hashish are grouped into the same category as cocaine and heroin, with sentences ranging from four to twelve years in prison if they are found in your possession. With those examples in mind, it is not a wise choice to travel across international boundaries with CBD products.
What About Trains and Cars?
Traveling by land is a slightly different story when it comes to bringing along your CBD products. For starters, there is usually no form of security or bag scanning on these methods of transportation, so there are no officers or government entities to comply with. However, if you are traveling across state lines, you have entered new legal territory and may be violating that state’s laws.
If CBD is completely legal in your state, but you travel to a nearby state where the laws are different, you do fall under the jurisdiction of the state where you are traveling to. For example, if you live in Massachusetts where CBD is legal and you take a train to Texas, you are no longer legally allowed to have CBD, even if the THC content is less than 0.3%, as Texas requires CBD products with 0% THC, unless it is medically required to treat seizures in persons with epilepsy.
Less stringent states may allow the possession of CBD products, but may require a registration card in the state. If you do not live there, you may not know about those rules. We highly encourage you to look up the specific requirements of the state to which you are traveling to and then decide if you still would like to bring your CBD products with you. This may involve learning about what types of documents you may need in certain states. For example, a doctor’s prescription or note may be enough in many states to prove that the product is medically necessary. You can also research if there are dispensaries in the state that you are traveling to and make a plan to visit it as soon as you arrive.
How To Store CBD Products While Traveling
Should you choose to travel with CBD products after checking the legality around the issues we mentioned above, you’re now faced with the question of how you can safely store and travel with CBD. We completely understand that CBD products can be expensive, particularly those that are high-quality and very potent. It would be horrible to have your CBD oil, vape cartridge, or edibles get smushed or spilt all over your suitcase.
To be sure that doesn’t happen, here are some quick tips and tricks for carrying CBD:
- Try to avoid liquid-based CBD products in glass bottles. This usually means CBD oils and some vape cartridges! These delicate containers are more likely to crack or break open in a carry-on bag! If you really need to bring your CBD oil or glass vape cartridge with you, try to find a solid carrier to bring it in. For example, a hard-shell sunglasses case would do the trick! You can also wrap your clothes around the hard case to avoid having it bumped around.
- Flying with liquids requires another consideration – TSA’s liquid restrictions. If you plan to bring a liquid-based CBD product with you on your journey (e.g. oils, lotions, etc.), they must contain less than 3.4oz of liquid each. Vape pens are allowed as well, but they cannot be checked and must be carried on.
- CBD products that come in travel-ready containers may be your best option when traveling. For example, CBD gummies in a plastic bottle or a plastic bottle of CBD oil. CBD sprays are also a great option here, but they also must follow TSA’s requirements for liquids.
- Keep your CBD in a relatively cool and dark place, especially if you are driving around in a car during the hottest months of the year. If the temperatures get too hot, or if CBD is exposed to direct sunlight for multiple hours, some of the ingredients may become unstable.
What CBD Products Are Travel-Ready?
Now that you know the rules and our recommendations, you may be ready to buy a CBD product for an upcoming trip. While there are a ton of CBD products available on the market, some already meet the size and packaging suggestions above! Here are our top picks:
- CBDistillery’s CBD Isolate Gummies
- With 0% THC included in these gummies, the worries about THC content can be avoided in most states. The solid plastic bottle may also protect against smushing any of the gummies and should keep the product dry and cool so long as it is kept out of the direct sunlight. For a full review on CBDistillery gummies and their other products, click here.
- Bluebird Botanicals THC-Free CBD Oil
- Although this container is made of glass, this company guarantees that there are non-detectable levels of THC according to their lab testing results. The bottle size is also plane-ready, coming in under the size requirements of TSA.
- Medterra’s Rapid CBD Cooling Cream
- Perfect for sore muscle relief after a day (or night) of traveling, this cooling cream contains 0% THC and comes in right at the size requirement of 3.4fl oz. This cream is available in both a lower and higher potency, making it ideal for people who know their bodies and know what to expect when traveling. For a full review on Medterra’s CBD products, click here.
- Nature’s Script CBD Pain Patches
- If you are one of those people who can anticipate things (and remember to do them) in advance, all the power to you with these pain patches. Getting them through TSA with your certificate of analysis present shouldn’t be an issue and you can apply them as soon as you are in your seat – or even before boarding the plane! It’s a great way to be proactive and shield your body from some of the aches and pains that come with a long drive or flight.
Due to the various restrictions on CBD from state-to-state and from country-to-country, it is probably best to avoid traveling with your CBD products if you can. This is the only sure way to avoid the anxiety of being pulled aside by TSA or other officers.
If your use of CBD is medically necessary, the appropriate documentation should be carried with you. Any officer can contact your doctor to verify its authenticity if need be and speak directly with a health professional. If you were ever truly in a pickle and detained by the TSA at the airport, having a laboratory certificate of analysis for your CBD product on hand detailing the amount of THC in the product may get you out of a potentially bad situation.
If you have the opportunity to do some research ahead of time, it’s not a bad idea to check the legality of CBD products at your destination. This may mean the difference between your products being confiscated with legal ramifications or simply needing to take a few days off from using CBD.