Not so friendly skies for CBD users
Packing for a short trip:
Wireless devices and chargers—check
Change of clothes—check
Toiletries under 3.5 ounces—check
CBD oil for my arthritis—hmmm….
Like many travelers, I am puzzled by the changing rules around what I can pack in both my carry on and my checked baggage. In the case of CBD oil, the questions are made more complex by confusion around the product and the range of laws across the country. While CBD products are legal, if they do not contain more than 0.3 percent THC, not everyone knows this, and “everyone” may include a local TSA inspector.
While CBD is one of many components of marijuana, derived from the hemp plant, by itself it does not have intoxicating properties. What it does have is tremendous success in reducing inflammation, anxiety and other ills. CBD products are a nearly $5 billion industry.
Recently, the TSA published a policy change which attempted to clarify the legality of flying with CBD products. The policy, citing the 2018 farm bill, included the 0.3 percent limit. While this sounds like a green light, the empirical experiences are not quite as clear cut. TSA agents have no easy way to determine the THC content of CBD products, and may err on the side of caution by confiscating all such products, depending on their individual predilections or local custom. In states where marijuana products are legal, it is far less likely that a TSA agent would challenge a traveler carrying a CBD product, but there is still a huge variety of state laws across the country. While you may not face any interference at an airport in California, the same may not hold true in a state which has yet to decriminalize marijuana, even though the CBD should not be subject to the ban.
What should you do? Some CBD advocates suggest that you obtain and carry a certificate of analysis, attesting that the product meets the standards of the federal farm act. Others recommend sourcing products at your destination to avoid the potential of confiscation, or even being delayed in making your flight by a TSA agent. As both THC and CBD products become widely available in more areas, buying locally may be easier than transporting your remedies with you. Finally, there is old-fashioned subterfuge—masking your perfectly legal CBD product as another legal, but less provocative, item. For people concerned about not being able to find their favorite item at their journey’s end, yet unwilling to risk confrontation or delay at the airport, this may be a safe and effective option.
The good news is that as the products continue their surge of popularity, combined with the sweep of legislative changes taking place throughout the country, this problem may soon be obsolete. Now remind me, is it shoes off, watches on, belts in the bin?