Due to the inconsistency between federal and state laws applicable to hemp-derived CBD products, along with other varying state laws, such as the permissible amount of THC in such products, Americans are confused on whether they can legally travel with their CBD products across state lines.
TSA’s Medical Marijuana Policy
In May 2019, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a policy update to provide travelers with a little clarity on traveling with hemp-derived CBD (and medical marijuana).
Per TSA’s Medical Marijuana Policy:
“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.” (Emphasis added)
This means you can travel with your CBD product if it contains 0.3% or less THC and is Farm Bill Compliant. Per this same policy, you can pack your CBD product in your carry-on or in your checked baggage. See https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all
Great news, right? Sort of. If your bag is searched, remember that “the final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.” Since TSA officers have discretion to determine whether a CBD product is allowed, one has to wonder what training the TSA security officers have on legal hemp-derived CBD products. That answer currently remains unclear.
Are Certain Products Riskier to Pack Than Others?
TSA’s policy is relatively new. It remains to be seen whether certain CBD products are riskier to travel with compared to others. Theoretically, if your CBD product meets the requirements of TSA’s policy than the type of CBD product shouldn’t matter.
What does @AskTSA Show?
Being curious to learn how TSA is responding to future traveling inquirers, we took a dive into TSA’s @AskTSA twitter feed and searched for tweets asking @AskTSA about traveling with hemp-derived CBD products. Our review found that @AskTSA may not be helpful to the everyday consumer seeking specific guidance. Here’s what we mean.
When asked “Could I bring non thc CBD oil in my carry on bag?”, the response was basically a paraphrased reiteration of TSA’s policy:
When asked “Is CBD products (without THC) allowed through security as carryons; CBD patches, CBD capsules, CBD rub and CBD oil?”, the response was basically the same:
When asked, “Are CBD gummies allowed? They follow federal guidelines for thc content. Is there any special instructions for packing if they are?”, the response was basically the same:
When asked, “Are CBD creams with zero THC allowed in checked bags?” the response was basically the same:
When asked “I’m flying with an emotional support animal from ORD to DFW and back. Can I bring CBD dog treats with me to help my dog remain calm on the flight?”, the response was basically the same:
The list goes on.
We believe that @AskTSA can improve to better help those who are responsible enough to reach out and ask. The demand and use of CBD products continues to grow as Americans becomes more educated about the hemp plant as a natural wellness support aid. CBD users rely on the purposes for which they use their products, so naturally they may have a need to travel with them. We speculate that TSA may be grappling with what they can safely say. If so, directing inquirers to the TSA policy until it’s figured out might just be TSA’s short term solution. Unfortunately, this approach leaves the public confused. It may also create feelings of fear to even fly with CBD. It’s doubtful this was an intended consequence, but it shouldn’t remain the status quo.
Potentially Riskier Products
At this juncture, topical CBD products (like relief creams and skincare products) and hemp-derived CBD oils with 0.3% or less THC are probably less risky compared to traveling with certain ingestible CBD products like smokable hemp flowers, or CBD edibles, beverages and pet treats.
Our speculation on the riskier products accounts for the fact that smokable hemp flower looks and can even smells like marijuana, and a TSA officer may not be able to tell the difference.
CBD edibles, CBD infused beverages, and CBD pet treats are probably less riskier than smokables. They might still be a little risky only because the FDA currently prohibits the sale and distribution of CBD foods and CBD beverages across state lines. Because of that, we consider the possibility that a TSA officer might question those types of products based on the FDA’s current position even though you have them for your own personal use.
Should I Travel with My CBD Product?
TSA permits it so long as your CBD product complies with TSA’s policy. Since this policy is relatively new, be mindful that traveling with legal hemp-derived CBD products is, at this stage, at your own risk. That may sound a little scary. In reality, it shouldn’t be. If your carry-on or packed CBD product complies with TSA’s policy, then you should be just fine.
Summing It Up
You can carry on or pack your hemp-derived CBD product when flying within the United States so long as the product contains no more than a total of 0.3% THC and is Farm Bill Compliant.
If you intend to travel within the United States with your product(s), here’s a few suggestions:
- Only pack CBD products that have 0.3% or less THC. If you’re not sure which line item on your product’s Certificate of Analysis to look at, see our interactive guide to learn where.
- Only pack CBD products that are Farm Bill Compliant. If you purchased a product made outside the USA, your product may not meet this requirement.
- Keep your product in its original packaging.
- Have a copy of your CBD product’s lab report in case your product’s content is questioned. Don’t just rely on scanning the QR code to retrieve it. The QR code may get damaged and be incapable of scanning. Or, for some reason, the technology that day doesn’t work.
- If you reside in a state that requires a doctor’s written certification or patient registration, you should have a copy of that documentation with you in case you’re asked for it.