Updated: Feb 24
Since the recent boom of CBD, there’s been overwhelming confusion about CBD’s legality while traveling by plane. This article will give you a clear picture of where CBD now stands in regards to flying in 2019.
Is CBD legal in 2019?
Hemp-derived CBD is in fact legal in all 50 states as long as it adheres to regulations of the new Farm Bill. According to the government, any hemp-derived CBD that contains less than 0.3% of THC is considered hemp. With that said, hemp-derived CBD products have continued to flood the market and continue to provide therapeutic value when formulated by a reputable CBD company.
CBD has quite a bit of legitimate research and plenty of anecdotal testimonies to back up this preliminary research to prove it's efficacy as a medicinal agent. Some people are finding CBD useful for conditions such as insomnia, chronic and acute pain, inflammatory based conditions and symptoms, fibromyalgia, digestive disorders, social anxiety, high levels of stress, neurological conditions, and even certain types of neurodegenerative diseases. Research is ongoing with CBD and results vary from person to person and product to product. We do know that a legitimate CBD product has very good safety and is very gentle on the body, which is one it's best attributes.
Perhaps what’s most impressive is that in 2018, the FDA approved of a CBD oral solution called Epidiolex to treat severe forms of epilepsy such as Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndromes.
Despite this achievement and further validation that CBD has medical applications that is being used by mainstream medicine, CBD continues to remain in gray area legally at times. With that being said, in the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD was removed as a Schedule I substance and legalized under U.S. federal law.
The possession of CBD and the TSA
Just last year, traveling by plane with CBD was highly frowned upon. The Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) issued special instructions on all forms of cannabis. Their
instructions stated, “Possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law.” Although hemp-derived CBD was thought to be legal in 2018, people were under federal jurisdiction once they entered a TSA checkpoint.
Still, some passengers rolled the dice and traveled with their CBD products in hopes to slip
through undiscovered. TSA’s sole purpose is to ensure the safety of the passengers and remove any possible threat to the flight. Yet in 2018, TSA indicated that they will refer to law
enforcement if a chemical, substance, or drug is discovered and contains illegal compounds like cannabis and THC.
Unfortunately, TSA did just that. As of May 21st of 2019, a grand jury of Tarrant County
declined to pursue the case of 71-year-old Lena Bartula and dismissed the charges of her arrest. Bartula had been arrested on Sept. 16th, 2018, in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. She was planning on flying to Oregon when she was arrested for the possession of CBD oil that was found in her travel bag. Bartula was later thrown in jail for two nights on a felony arrest.
In another case, a Collin County college student was caught by officers for the possession of hemp based CBD. According to Dallas Fort Worth NBC, records indicate that there are at least seven other cases involving CBD possession. It's not all doom and gloom for traveling with CBD though, positive changes have occurred in 2019.
Fortunately, there has been a change in TSA’s “special instructions” regarding medical marijuana and some forms of CBD products. The change took place over 2019 Memorial Day weekend. The new special instructions now read, “Possession of marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and certain cannabis infused products.”
“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 of 2018. TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. 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.
Additionally, a twitter account of @AskTSA stated that “products that contain hemp-derived
CBD oil or are FDA-approved are generally legal & can fly.” With that said, the TSA still bans
marijuana and products that may contain THC and do not fall under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Yet, it’s not yet clear how the officers of the TSA will differentiate whether a substance is abiding by the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act or not (7). Although this change seems to bring comfort to passengers that rely on hemp-derived CBD for their medical and personal needs, the “regulations” that the TSA is referring to still remain slightly disconcerting for people wanting to travel with it on a regular basis.
On April 15th of this year, 69-year-old Hester Jordan Burkhalter was arrested at the checkpoint of Disney World in Orlando, Florida for the possession of CBD oil. According to the arresting officer, Vincent Lebron, the “substance” was tested with a “marijuana presumptive drug test kit.”
It was later reported that there was in fact “a presumptive positive result for the presence of
THC.” It isn’t clear if Burkhalter’s CBD oil contained the legal amounts of 0.3% of THC or not.
The state's attorney office dropped all charges regarding Burkhalter’s case. Regardless of TSA’s new guidelines for possession of CBD, it could still potentially result in some future
airport arrests before all the kinks are worked out of this CBD boom and legal limit of 0.3% THC.
So the question remains, can you fly with CBD?
The answer is yes, as long as the CBD is hemp-derived and remains under the regulations of the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act and under 0.3% THC. It’s crucial to purchase CBD products from reputable companies that thoroughly have their final products third-party tested to ensure it falls within the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act. Flying with CBD in 2019 seems to have taken a positive step in the right direction, but passengers should still fly with caution. It may be helpful to carry paperwork and a certificate of analysis if you're flying so you can have as backup in case something happens.
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