Policies concerning Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant is usually non-existent. If there is any, it is unclear. Thus, traveling with it can be worrisome.

Can I travel with CBD? Is it legal? Is it worth the risk?

Those are just some of the concerns that are causing travelers to withhold packing CBD products with them on the plane.

Individuals with mild conditions may bear with the discomfort even in the absence of the CBD, but patients with serious conditions may depend on the relief provided by CBD for their everyday function. Thus, the absence of CBD while they travel could be disadvantageous to their health.

It is a valid concern, yet inconsistent policies from various federal levels and several agencies at the state make the situation more complicated.

CBD Legality

Regulations surrounding cannabis have improved considerably over the past 10 years, yet transportation laws tell a different story.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a unit of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, regulates public transportation in the U.S., including the airport. It thus complies with the federal government’s rules and regulations.

On the agency’s site, medical marijuana was excluded from being transported in checked-in luggage and in a carry-on bag. TSA also plainly listed the items they consider to be marijuana and that includes the CBD oil.

While the regulation is focused on ‘medical marijuana’, including CBD derived from marijuana, it excluded CBD derived from hemp.

Marijuana-Derived CBD vs Hemp-Derived CBD

Marijuana and hemp are both species of the cannabis plant, yet the law has grouped them on different classifications because of their THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrations. This is the intoxicating compound obtained in cannabis.

Marijuana is still considered illegal under federal law due to its high THC concentration of as much as 30% and its potential to cause psychoactive effects.  On the other hand, hemp only has less than 0.3% THC content.

By virtue of the Agricultural Improvement Act, hemp was reclassified in 2018 under the agricultural commodity. This essentially made hemp-derived CBD excluded from the controlled substances, and now thereby legal under the federal law.

Does it also suggest you can bring CBD on a plane?

Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, passengers (based on TSA technicalities) are prohibited to travel with CBD products derived from marijuana.

On the other hand, traveling with CBD products derived from hemp is legal under federal law and therefore does not violate the guidelines of TSA.

With this in mind, it remains crucial to be wary about traveling with CBD laws are varying and there is a vague difference between marijuana-derived and hemp-derived CBD.

So here’s what you need to know before traveling with CBD:

1.    Do your research about the states you are traveling from and to.

Although CBD derived from hemp is legal, remember that policies may differ from state to state. There are also some states with more stringent regulations against CBD products, regardless of where it was sourced from.

2.    Examine the CBD product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA)

Inaccurate cannabinoid content and low-quality CBD can be caused by substandard manufacturing practices. The product can display a ‘THC-Free’ tag on its label even if it actually contains the psychoactive compound, and thereby make it technically illegal.

As such, prior to purchasing a CBD product, it is crucial to look into its ingredients closely. Make sure it comes with a COA and third-party lab report to validate it contains no more than o.3% THC. You may have it printed out and readily available before flying just in case you have to face the airport security’s scrutiny.

3.    Pack the CBD Product properly

Group your CBD products with other liquids. Do not hide them so they don’t look suspicious.  Similar to other liquids, CBD products such as lotions and oils should adhere to TSA’s requirements.  Travelers are only allowed to carry a quart-sized bag of aerosols, liquids, gels, pastes, and creams containing no more than 3.4 oz of liquid.