TSA Regulations for Flying with CBD Oil

Tara DeVincenzo About CBD, FAQ

Flying with CBD Oil

Though traveling is intended to be a relaxing experience, there’s no denying it can also trigger an abundance of stress. Whether it’s long lines, small spaces, crowds, or a missed flight, it’s good to have a way to de-stress on hand. For many people, that’s CBD.

Given CBD’s legal ambiguity as a substance and popularity as a product, there’s been a lot of uncertainty surrounding how it’s perceived by airlines and border agents. The TSA still recognizes it as a controlled substance, bunched in with marijuana. Regardless of cannabis’ rise to legality in some states, flying with CBD oil has been banned outright.

A Summary of Flying with CBD oil

  • Although CBD is considered a legal substance in most states, the TSA lists it as a banned substance along with marijuana, and flying with CBD oil is prohibited
  • Flying with oils is permissible in your carry-on in quantities less than 3.4 oz–but CBD is technically not permitted
  • Vape pens are permitted, but absolutely no substances, including medical marijuana and CBD, are permitted
  • The United States did not always outlaw cannabis products, and progress is being made to move them back into legality through the 2018 Farm Bill
  • Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson saw the usefulness of hemp and grew it on their own properties (we just thought that was so cool you ought to know)

Is Flying With CBD Illegal?

The TSA’s website is very clear: “Possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law.”

So what does that mean? Well, it means quite simply, they don’t want you flying with CBD oil. The TSA is a federal agency and by their standards, CBD is considered part of the cannabis plant, and is therefore not allowed on planes.

The good news is that this is subject to change. 2018 sparked the beginning of the end for cannabis prohibition and hemp is the first to be set free. The House of Representatives approved the bill which the Senate then signed stating that, among other things, hemp is nationally recognized as a legal crop.

Hemp in the Free World

Flying with CBD Oil

As cannabis prohibition began, hemp was lumped into the classification of the psychoactive plant and considered a drug. For years, it’s been illegal to grow or sell, but it has a long history of acceptance, prevalence, and usefulness.

In 1619, outdating even the birth of America, hemp had a different legal standing. Virginia passed a law that every farm was to grow it and it was considered currency throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

As the colonies transformed into a country, hemp was a versatile utility. George Washington grew hemp on his farm at Mount Vernon, noting its durable properties as widely useful. The fibers could repair sails, make rope, and even be used for clothing.

By the end of the Civil War, hemp began to go out of fashion for a softer, more lucrative commodity: cotton.

Hemp, along with other strains of cannabis, didn’t lose its allure entirely. Instead of being used for its fiberosity, it graduated to being used as medicine. It was readily available in drugs stores, but started to become a problem when recreational use began to rise.

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 outlawed hemp and classified it as a drug. However, historical evidence indicates that Harry Anslinger, the nation’s first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, drummed up fear around and outlawed marijuana in order to revive his position, which was becoming less needed after alcohol prohibition was ended. That was only the beginning of a longstanding criminalization of cannabis in the United States.

Hemp in the Modern World

Finally, these laws are being revisited and change is not only talked about, but enacted. 2018 marked the first real legislative change in this thinking. This 2018 Farm Bill reclassifies hemp from a schedule I drug to an agricultural commodity. Farmers are enticed to grow it and companies are motivated to buy and sell it.

Flying with CBD Oil

The importance of hemp being legalized relates heavily to CBD. CBD is abundant in all cannabis plants, but where hemp stands out is its lack of another cannabinoid: THC. THC is legal in only a few states and, as such, plants with a higher content aren’t permitted nationwide. Hemp, for its abundance of CBD and lack of THC, allows much more opportunity for CBD to be produced even in states whose laws surrounding cannabis have yet to change.

Is Flying with CBD Really Illegal?

As of this writing, the law still states flying with CBD is illegal. If the TSA finds CBD in your possession while going through airport security, they have permission to enact authority on par with that of discovering other drugs. Even with a medical marijuana card, in the eyes of the law, CBD is an illicit substance.

Somewhat surprisingly, the TSA is much less concerned with vaporizers on a plane. Of course, there are some conditions to this, including that they won’t be used until you touch down in your destination and that they only contain legal substances. They have to remain in your carry-on luggage and by no means should it be smoked on the plane–not even in the bathroom, not even down your shirt.

If you really want to make CBD part of your flying routine without risking an interrogation and a missed flight (double yikes!), a reasonable alternative could be to take a gummy, capsule, or other edible before arriving at the airport or before going through security.

The TSA does advise against all cannabis substances, including edibles, so packing a CBD snack in your carry on is still considered illegal.

The bottom line is–the rules in place say that you cannot bring, consume, or transport CBD on a flight. But, keep your eyes to the sky. Now that the 2018 Farm Bill has been signed, it could change the way the federal government deals with hemp-based products, including CBD. If and when that change does occur, you’ll hear about it from us.

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Last modified: June 3, 2019