As new research continues to reveal the truth about pharmaceuticals and the negative side effects they have on the body, more individuals depend on and prefer to use natural remedies such as cannabidiol to provide relief to and alleviate their health conditions. At the same time, patients turning to natural medicine are able to positively impact the environment by utilizing supply chains that exist closer to the earth than those of traditional medicine.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis that is made available in products ranging from lotions to oral drops. CBD can be used in a variety of ways, most commonly by applying topically and infusing in beverages like hot herbal tea.

Adults and children suffering from debilitating diseases depend on the healing properties of medicinal products infused with CBD. Historically, traveling with CBD has been a risky endeavor especially when trying to get past Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at airports. As a federal agency, TSA adheres to the rules and regulations of the federal government. However, even after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the federal legalization of hemp, TSA continued to not differentiate marijuana from hemp and considered all CBD-related products as illegal under federal law.

However, in May 2019 the TSA made sweeping changes to its medical marijuana policy found under its “What Can I Bring?” section of its webpage specific to those wishing to travel the skies with CBD. Find out why TSA changed their policies, what is permitted, and what is not, with respect to CBD when traveling within the United States, so that you can be sure to plan properly for your next flight.

Why The Change?

The Boston Globe reported that confusion regarding the status of Epidiolex, an FDA-approved pediatric epilepsy drug that contains CBD, prompted the change. A TSA spokesperson told Marijuana Moment, “TSA was made aware of an FDA-approved drug that contains CBD oil for children who experience seizures from pediatric epilepsy. To avoid confusion as to whether families can travel with this drug, TSA immediately updated TSA.gov once we became aware of the issue.”

What’s Allowed?

According to Canna Law Blog, TSA is now one of several federal agencies to have revisited its policies regarding the legality of hemp-derived CBD products, including the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco and Trade Bureau, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Postal Services and the USDA.

The policy changes made to the TSA.gov website in the medical marijuana section of its “What Can I Bring?” guidelines currently states:

“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.”

In other words, TSA now formally permits products containing hemp-derived CBD, and FDA-approved medications containing CBD, in both carry-on and checked luggage as long as the products contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Specifically, the agency is clarifying that hemp-derived CBD products may now be carried on planes under certain circumstances. As long as travelers have CBD in forms that adhere to the regulations in the farm bill, the TSA will now permit it on an airplane.

What’s Not Allowed?

Boston Globe discusses that previously, TSA made no distinction between marijuana and hemp-derived preparations and warned on its website that cannabis products cannot be taken as carry-on items or in checked bags. But since the 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp and its derivatives, TSA had to conform to federal law.

TSA’s policies still strictly prohibit medical and recreational marijuana in both carry-on and checked luggage. Any type of cannabis products, even CBD that contains THC, is not allowed on planes. It must be hemp derived. Unlike hemp, marijuana remains federally illegal, and the TSA wants to make sure you know it. TSA’s updated language warns that, “TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and certain cannabis infused products.”

It is still not clear how the agency plans to enforce these new policies, unless they expect to train agents to test every CBD product that comes through security for the presence of THC. They would also need to maintain a database of products that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers.

When in a state with legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana, adults are welcome to use cannabis in accordance with that state’s laws. When traveling outside of that area – crossing state lines – you fall under the purview of federal law, meaning marijuana is no longer permitted. It is important to know that this rule applies even when traveling between two states that both permit marijuana use. It is not worth enduring the legal consequences if TSA finds marijuana in your bag before boarding, but – unless you want to throw away your medication or miss your flight – leave the cannabis at home.