Read up on the new TSA regulations surrounding CBD before boarding your next flight.

By Stacey Leasca
Updated June 04, 2019
Credit: Getty Images

There's no doubt that CBD oil is having a major moment (and some people swear by it), yet federal regulations pertaining to the chemical compound are perplexing. Last month, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a change in language surrounding its rules pertaining to CBD, or Cannabidiol. The update was meant to provide passengers with all the information they’d need about boarding an aircraft with the trendy, hemp-derived oil. However, it appears some of the language left would-be fliers more confused than ever on just who can and can’t fly with the substance.

CBD—the non-psychoactive component of cannabis—is most certainly all the rage these days in health and wellness circles. And really, who could blame the hype? After all, the chemical compound found in both marijuana and hemp has some seriously stellar purported benefits, like helping to reduce anxiety, insomnia, and nausea, just to name a few (although research on the effectiveness of CBD oil is still limited).

Though it sounds like a miracle drug, the U.S. government isn’t so sure. Rules surrounding CBD production, sale, and transportation on planes remains a bit murky, despite the legalization of medical marijuana across 33 states. Here’s everything you need to know about the new TSA rule, and if you really can board a plane with CBD stashed in your carry-on.

Is CBD even legal in the United States?

Well, sort of. Last year, President Donald Trump signed the new Farm Bill, which took CBD off the list of Schedule I narcotics. This means that hemp can now be legally grown in the United States and CBD can be extracted from it. However, CBD still has one more hurdle to jump, and that’s clearance with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That government body has yet to deem CBD as a “generally safe” product, which is a legal requirement for food additives and supplements.

The legality of CBD gets even more confusing on a state-by-state level. While the Farm Bill states hemp may contain up to .03 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the chemical cousin of CBD to blame for a high—some states have outlawed it altogether. In Texas, for example, a CBD product must contain 0.00-percent THC. Otherwise, it’s illegal (for now).

Simply put, CBD is federally legal in the U.S. so long as it’s grown under the very specific specifications laid out in the Farm Bill, contains no more than .03-percent THC, and is not sold as a dietary supplement, food, or drink additive.

While nobody is likely to give you a hard time for carrying CBD, the substance is not technically 100-percent legal. Even the TSA notes on its site that “possession of marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law.”

What does the new TSA rule really say?

The new TSA rule states “Products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the FDA are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018.”

That really means that Epidiolex, the single CBD drug approved by the FDA, is safe to fly with. You can only get Epidiolex with a prescription, and it’s reserved for children with severe seizure disorders. If you’re traveling with Epidiolex, make sure to bring along a note from your doctor for good measure. All other CBD products consumers buy at their nearest mom and pop shop or over the internet are exempt from this rule.

However, the TSA also makes it abundantly clear that they really don’t have time to be looking at your CBD gummies. “TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers,” the TSA says. “Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”

How much CBD can I fly with?

If the CBD is in liquid form (like a tincture or oil), you must abide by the TSA rules on liquids. That means no more than three ounces in your carry-on bag.

What about medical marijuana?

Packing medical marijuana on your next trip is a definite no. According to the TSA, marijuana—medical or recreational—is still not permitted. And, whatever you do, don’t argue with a TSA agent on the finer points of the legality of marijuana and CBD. As the TSA adds, “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”

So, should I take my CBD with me on a plane?

It’s up to you if you want to risk having your CBD seized, facing a fine, or possible prosecution. If you can go without CBD for the duration of your travels, it’s probably best to just leave the substance at home. Or, pick up a small supply at your next destination to tide you over rather than having to travel with it through airport security.