Health & Wellness

Can I fly with CBD?

By Melena Gurganus

Just as you’re about to go through the TSA checkpoint and head to your gate, it hits you—is it even legal to fly with CBD oil? It’s already packed in your carry-on, and there’s really no turning back at this point. Surely it shouldn’t be an issue since it’s legal to sell, purchase, and consume CBD in almost all states, but don’t be so sure. CBD is a cannabis extract, and it’s in a legal grey area that leaves some room for doubt when it comes to traveling across state lines.

What to know before you board a plane with CBD

First, ask yourself why you are traveling with CBD oil. Do you have severe anxiety, chronic pain, or a particularly heightened fear of flying? These conditions may warrant an uncompromising need for CBD that might make it difficult to leave behind. However, your intended purpose for using CBD does not affect its flight carry-on eligibility.

The TSA guidelines are clear: “Possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products.”

Although CBD oil is legal in almost every state, the previous statement makes it clear that you are automatically taking a risk by choosing to bring CBD oil on a plane. Other sources, like POPSUGAR, suggest that it is fine to fly with CBD as long as the THC percentage does not exceed 0.3 percent. With that being said, there is no clarification available from the TSA that validates this statement. There are also no explicit guidelines for other CBD products, such as gummies, vapes, or topicals, but it seems as though any “cannabis infused products” are not allowed in either carry-ons or checked baggage.

CBD is extracted from hemp plants, which are a sub-strain of cannabis sativa. Regardless of its limited amount of THC, CBD is a derivative of cannabis and has the potential to be flagged if found by airport security.

How to travel with CBD oil

Plan Ahead

If you are wary about flying with CBD oil, there’s always the option of getting something delivered to you once you reach your destination. This may seem a bit impractical, but it’s worth the extra steps to ensure that you aren’t barred from traveling altogether due to a cannabis extract found in your luggage.

Use CBD Beforehand

For those with a fear of flying, you can still use CBD as a way to calm your nerves. Before you enter the airport, consider consuming CBD via capsules, gummies, or by adding CBD oil into your morning coffee. Once you ingest CBD, the effects will take longer to set in as the product goes through your digestive tract before being absorbed into the bloodstream. This also means that the benefits of CBD will last longer, have a steady release over the course of a few hours, and hopefully ease your flight-induced stress.

Alternate Traveling

While this may not work for every circumstance, it’s plausible to use other modes of transportation such as trains, buses, or cars to get from one place to the next. With these alternate options, you won’t have to go through TSA or security checkpoints, and it should be legal to bring your CBD oil along with you. Just make sure you aren’t headed to one of the few states where it may be unclear if this cannabis extract is legal.

Don’t travel out of the country with CBD oil

There are no doubt stricter regulations when you enter or exit any country, including going through customs and added security measures. CBD may be legal in the U.S. and several other countries, but not every region has the same standards. For instance, European countries require that CBD products contain no more than 0.2 percent THC. If you pack CBD oil with 0.3 percent THC, this could be classified as an illegal substance since it exceeds the European Union’s legal amount of THC.

What are the risks?

It’s undoubtedly more pertinent for TSA officers to concern themselves with immediate security threats rather than CBD oils, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll make it to your destination without your CBD oil being found. According to the TSA’s official website, “TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but in the event a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis infused product is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.” If you choose to bring your CBD oil with you and find yourself in this predicament, the product may be cleared as long as it meets legal CBD standards. However we do not recommend ignoring any rules set forth by the TSA, and you should be ready to face possible consequences if transporting CBD oil while flying.

Benefits of using CBD while flying

Before we get into how the TSA feels about CBD, let’s talk about why someone may want to carry it on a plane in the first place. According to reports, nearly 20% of adult Americans are anxious about flying, and another 12% are afraid to fly. With about 1.8 million American passengers boarding a plane each day, that equates to a lot of jittery flyers.

About 1 in 3 travelers will actually cancel their plans due to travel-related stress. In a perfect world (we’ll get more into that later), this is where someone might introduce CBD. That’s because many people have credited CBD for creating a calming effect on their nerves, particularly during times of stress or high anxiety. In a survey we conducted on traveling with CBD, 97% of respondents said CBD made their travel experience better.

CBD’s analgesic effects, or its ability to fight pain, tends to be the first benefit mentioned by its users. However, scientific research has indicated CBD’s ability to reduce social anxiety, and the compound has been used in treatment plans for generalized anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Is it illegal to carry CBD on a plane?

People who struggle with anxiety before boarding a plane will often resort to taking prescription medications or over-the-counter sleep aids to either numb their fears or snooze through them. If you’re one of these types of travelers, you may be wondering if CBD is OK to carry on a plane—and the answer is that it depends. Unfortunately, like a lot of circumstances surrounding CBD, things are still a bit hazy.

Recently, the agency updated their website to reflect new rules that allow legal hemp-derived CBD oil. Hemp products are allowed “as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law.”

The issue is that hemp products can easily be confused with marijuana products.

One thing that we do know is that marijuana and cannabis-infused products, which technically does include CBD oil, are illegal under federal law. On its official website, the TSA says that its officers are “required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products.” This means the TSA could potentially detain you for carrying CBD oil through a security checkpoint.

But here’s where the lines get a little blurred. The TSA openly states that they don’t actively perform searches for the possession of marijuana (or a cannabis-infused product), but if they observe it during a screening, the TSA will refer the matter to law enforcement. Ultimately, the TSA agent has the final ruling on whether an item makes it through security.

What to do if you decide to travel with CBD

While it’s unlikely that the presence of CBD oil will result in problems with the TSA, whether or not you carry it on with you is a decision you’ll have to make based on your comfort level. If you do opt to run it through security, always remember the TSA liquids rule that says containers 3.4 ounces or larger are not permitted. In addition, you should pack all allowable liquids in a clear, quart-sized bag, and be prepared to remove it from your luggage prior to placing it on the security conveyor belt.

Alternatives to flying with CBD

If the thought of potentially fielding questions from the TSA about your CBD causes as much stress as flying does, it’s probably a good idea to not bring it with you. But there are alternative ideas that can help you battle the stressors of traveling without having your CBD on you. It might be a bit cumbersome, but you can always have your supply shipped to you once you reach your destination—but that doesn’t help much while you’re en route. The most obvious answer is to make sure you dose before leaving for the airport. By taking capsules or gummies, you can slow down the time it takes for the CBD to enter your bloodstream, which means you may be able to time it perfectly for takeoff.

Parting words on CBD and the TSA

Despite the fact that CBD does not supply the same “high” that is associated with products containing THC, it remains under scrutiny by the TSA. But for many people, the reward outweighs the risk. In that survey we conducted, 57% of our respondents said they were not concerned about the risks involved with taking CBD into an airport or boarding their flight with it. CBD can be a wonderful way to manage the stress and anxiety one feels while traveling, but as always, consult your local laws and speak with your physician before dosing to conquer stress or anxiety.

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