Thanks to a patchwork of legalization across state lines, traveling with marijuana is a question many ask as of late. Particularly many worry about flying with cannabis—either for medicinal reasons, or those of you bring some home after visiting Colorado or California. The first thing you should know is that the Transportation Security Administration isn’t
Thanks to a patchwork of legalization across state lines, traveling with marijuana is a question many ask as of late. Particularly many worry about flying with cannabis—either for medicinal reasons, or those of you bring some home after visiting Colorado or California. The first thing you should know is that the Transportation Security Administration isn’t necessarily looking for your marijuana. Instead, they search for bombs or explosive weapons.
“Let us be blunt: TSA officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs,” reads a post from the TSA’s official Instagram. “Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement.”
Translation: You can risk it, and you probably will be fine, but if you’re caught you will face consequences. Tips abound on how to pack your cannabis in luggage or what the TSA would actually do if they discovered your stash, but what about flying with CBD?
A recent Gallup poll found that 1 in 7 Americans use CBD products. Whether for pain relief or wellness, chances are you’ll want to bring your CBD product of choice on your travels. Do the same rules apply flying with CBD as they do with marijuana?
It’s complicated. As the Los Angeles Times reported, the TSA changed their rules around CBD this May. Former rules stipulated that CBD wasn’t allowed under any circumstances. But the new regulations follow guidelines established by the 2018 Farm Bill — CBD is permitted so long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. Any hemp-derived CBD you buy, which is what you’d likely have, especially in nonlegal states, should have less than 0.3% THC.
But that’s where things get hazy. Every state holds different qualifications around the legality of CBD products. For example, a state like Oregon allows you all the variations of CBD you could want. But if you fly with hemp-derived CBD to Idaho you could be in trouble. Idaho’s Attorney General stated that “the oil extract cannot contain ‘any quantity’ of THC—not just less than 0.3%.” To avoid any problems, you might need to carry a certificate of analysis with you. Or you can buy products that have clearly marked labels identifying your product is “THC-free” or hemp-derived, depending on the state you’re visiting.
Still, the TSA never clarified how they will test CBD products should the need arise. Should they run your CBD oil or gummies through laboratory analysis, you could run into trouble when thinking you’re following the rules. This September, Denver-based startup Ellipse Analytics tested 250 top-selling CBD products and their results found THC in 45% of them. Among products claiming they were “THC-free,” 21% of them tested with detectable THC levels.
That’s what happened to a 69-year-old grandma visiting Disneyland in Florida. She was prescribed CBD by her North Carolina doctor and purchased peppermint CBD oil, which had “THC-free” claims on its label. When Orange County sheriffs tested the oil, they discovered THC and subsequently arrested the woman on charges of hashish possession. She was released on $2,000 bonds and the charges were dropped.
So while traveling with CBD might feel safer than flying with marijuana, consequences remain. It’s up to you whether the risk is worth it.