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Can You Travel with CBD? Yes, With Some Caveats
More information about the remarkable benefits of CBD (also known as cannabidiol) over the years has catapulted this alternative medicine into the mainstream world. When it comes to travel, CBD has proven to be especially popular. It’s been touted for its benefits including helping alleviate the fear of flying to nixing anxiety from travel, as well as helping to eliminate pain and inflammation and more. Naturally, one of the most-asked questions regarding CBD is if people can travel with it.
What is CBD?
CBD is a chemical derived from cannabis. Although both CBD and THC are derived from cannabis, THC creates a “high” or euphoric effect, while CBD does not.
CBD is used to help control seizures, anxiety, pain, Parkinson and Crohn’s diseases and more. Consumers can purchase CBD as a flower to smoke, cartridge for vaping, as well as tinctures, gummies, supplements, lotions, patches, and more.
Is CBD legal?
First, you’ve got to understand the difference between hemp and marijuana—both of which come from the cannabis sativa plant. They both produce CBD. With hemp, the amount of THC is virtually non-existent; it’s another story when it comes to marijuana. In the US, marijuana is federally illegal because of the high THC percentage (though more and more states are decriminalizing it).
In 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act was passed, making hemp-derived CBD products legal on a federal level. It also removed hemp as a Schedule I substance and moved it to an “agricultural commodity.”
So, if the CBD is coming from hemp, then it is legal federally. In addition, the CBD must contain less than .3 percent THC. Hemp-derived CBD can be transported freely across state lines so long as it meets the criteria passed in the bill.
That being said, although CBD is legal on a federal level, not all states consider it so. For example, it’s fully illegal in Idaho (only legal with 0 THC and from mature stalks of plants), Nebraska, and South Dakota as of 2022. And, it’s only legal for medicinal use in Alabama (must contain less than .3% THC), Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee (must contain less than .6% THC), Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The benefits of traveling with CBD
CBD can be particularly beneficial to people when they travel.
For starters, since CBD is known to ease anxiety, it can help people with travel anxiety. It’s been shown to lessen the body’s response to stress. In addition, it also quiets the part of the brain that registers threats, making flying a more relaxing experience. For those who have never taken CBD before, make sure to use it a few weeks before flying to see how the body reacts.
Aside from CBD helping with travel anxiety, there are other benefits as well. Lotion can help alleviate dry skin, especially when flying. It helps nourish the skin and prevents dry skin, cracks and more. Plus, if inflammation and joint pain are an issue, it can also provide relief when applied topically.
Finally, CBD can help with jetlag, too. Take some at night to relax and unwind before going to sleep (you can also read our tips for sleeping on a plane).
Choosing the right CBD for traveling
What CBD is the right one for you when it comes to traveling?
If you’re looking for a slight euphoric feeling, grab the full spectrum CBD. While the THC percentage is still normally less than .3 percent, it’s made with many other cannabinoid compounds and low levels of THC. While it’s not enough to get someone “high,” it can give a euphoric effect. Because it contains terpenes from the cannabis plant, it also may smell like the plant. Skip the full spectrum CBD if you have to take drug tests, as it could show up.
Broad-spectrum CBD delivers all the calming effects of CBD, minus the euphoric feeling. Like full-spectrum, it contains other cannabinoid compounds, but has zero (or only traces) of THC. So, in a place where THC is illegal, this is the CBD to choose.
For nearly instant gratification to combat anxiety, tinctures/oils are the way to go as they get to your bloodstream the quickest. However, this wears off the quickest of all delivery methods, so you’ll need to take it every four to six hours.
CBD gummies are easy to dose and provide relief to your entire body since they are metabolized and spread throughout your entire body. Plan for when you want the gummies to kick in, as they take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to feel the effects. Most single servings last up to 12 hours.
You’ll want to use a CBD cream or lotions, balms, patches or salves for aches and inflammation, as well as for dry skin.
Because vaping isn’t allowed on planes, it’s probably best to leave that at home or only bring it out once you’ve arrived at your destination (assuming it’s legal where you’re traveling).
No matter which method of CBD you choose, always check the label to make sure the percentage of THC is lower than .3 percent for traveling to destinations where it’s legal to use.
Can you bring CBD on a plane?
Generally, yes, you can bring CBD on a plane so long as the THC content is under that magic .3 percent. If you’re carrying a liquid or cream form of CBD, it must be less than three ounces if you want to take it in your carryon. If you’re traveling with a CBD vape pen, then it can only go in your carryon, not your checked baggage.
When traveling, know the state laws for your destination and understand that, ultimately, it’s up to the TSA officer to let you through with CBD. Sometimes they get it wrong, and will confiscate your CBD. A handful of states only allow CBD for medicinal use. It is illegal to have CBD in Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Internationally, always check the laws before departure. CBD is illegal in countries including Singapore, Bolivia and Armenia, as well as most countries in Africa (except South Africa).
Is CBD Safe to Carry on a Plane?
Nov. 26, 2019 — Many air travelers who struggle with anxiety and jet lag have turned to CBD as a remedy, even as researchers are still investigating whether it works. Other travelers like to tote along CBD in skin care or beauty products.
But many also wonder: Will my CBD get past the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)?
Earlier this year, officials arrested a 71-year-old woman at the Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport in May after finding CBD oil in a carry-on. She spent two nights in jail.
While the TSA recently loosened up its regulations around CBD products, the answer is still: It depends.
Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products including cannabidiol (CBD) oil are still illegal under federal law and won’t make it through government screening, says Carrie Harmon, a TSA spokesperson. But CBD products made from hemp, which contain no more than 0.3% THC, are legal under the Farm Bill of 2018. THC is the component in marijuana that produces a “high.”
In addition, the FDA recently warned companies that adding CBD to foods or dietary supplements is illegal because it has not been declared to be GRAS, or generally recognized as safe.
The TSA’s updated regulations allow passengers to legally bring these products on board:
- Medical marijuana
- Products that contain no more than 0.3% THC
- FDA-approved products. The only one currently approved is Epidiolex (cannabidiol), which treats two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
At the Airport
Once at the TSA checkpoint, what can CBD-toting travelers expect? According to the TSA, screening is focused on security and protecting passenger safety. “TSA security officers don’t search for marijuana or cannabis-infused products. However, in the event a substance that appears illegal is discovered during security screening, TSA officers will refer the matter to law enforcement. Law enforcement officers then follow their own procedures.”
And no, there won’t be a TSA dog sniffing your luggage or purse. “TSA K9s only search for explosives and explosive components,” Harmon says.
Who gets the final word? The TSA website posts: The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.
The other complicating factor is that some states may have more restrictive laws regarding CBD. In Virginia, for example, you can only purchase CBD with a prescription. And CBD of any type is not allowed in dietary supplements or food, the FDA says.
Here’s what experts suggest:
If you are traveling with medical marijuana or an FDA-approved drug, take your prescription with you in case there are any questions. Keep the marijuana and the prescription drug in original packaging.
If you have CBD products, find the product’s certificate of analysis, or CoA.
CoAs are listed on manufacturer’s websites. Or, once the product is purchased, the QR code on the label should be scannable, taking customers to the product’s webpage and the CoA. A CoA will list the percent of CBD and other cannabinoids, when it was tested, and the name of the lab that tested it (outside labs are preferred to company testing, experts say.)
“Print a copy of the certificate of analysis (or CoA) of the CBD product you are carrying so you have formal documentation of what that product is,” says Alex Wolfe, vice-president of business development for ShopCBD.com, an online specialty store representing 32 companies that sell hemp-derived products.
“Any good brand should be able to show you the CoA,” agrees Gary Avetisyan, who is co-owner of two Topikal stores in the Los Angeles area selling CBD products. That way, he says, it will be clear there is no THC or it is below the required 0.3%.
Besides packing the CoA, ”print out the latest regulations that TSA has posted, or have the link to the latest regulations on your phone,” Wolfe suggests. That way, if you encounter a new TSA agent or one unfamiliar with all the regulations, you have support.
If the anxiety of wondering whether you will get through TSA with your CBD is too overwhelming, it might be better to check out whether it’s legal at your destination and simply buy it there. One source for state laws on marijuana, CBD, and hemp is norml.org.
Another option is to shop online or at a store before the trip, then ship the CBD to your destination, Avetisyan says.
Los Angeles attorney Griffen Thorne, who is familiar with cannabis issues, urges passengers to be cautious. He recommends not taking CBD on international flights.
“The laws in the jurisdiction you are flying to can be drastically different. Flying domestically with a CBD product is obviously less of a risk, but I still think there are risks.” Not everyone is up to date on the new TSA stance, he says. Hemp is not a controlled substance federally, he says, but people transporting it across state lines get pulled over. Law enforcement officials are not all familiar with the differences between hemp-derived CBD and cannabis-derived CBD.
As for marijuana, medical or recreational, the best advice, he says, is ”leave it all at home” if you’re flying, since it remains a Schedule I drug on the federal level.
Carrie Harmon, TSA spokesperson.
TSA: “Medical Marijuana.”
Gary Avetisyan, co-owner, Topikal CBD, Los Angeles.
Alex Wolfe, spokesperson, ShopCBD.com.
NBCDFW.com: “Traveling Grandmother Jailed for CBD Oil: ‘I Slept on the Floor… Next to the Toilet.’”
Citizen Truth: “What is a CBD Certificate of Analysis (COA) (And How to Read It).”
Marijuana Policy Project.
TravelLatte: “Traveling with CBD.”
Brookings: “The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer.”