UPDATE: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) updated its policies about traveling with medical marijuana, stating that it's actually completely legal to travel with hemp-derived CBD products, or anything that's been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
This story was originally published on May 21, 2019.
If you consider yourself an anxious flyer, you probably have your own special tricks that you know will calm you down in a moment of bad turbulence or last-minute travel changes. Maybe that includes drinking a glass of wine on a flight, crying to a bad movie, doing a face mask, or popping a few CBD gummies.
Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a compound found in cannabis and hemp that's known for its non-intoxicating, relaxing effects. While research on the effects of CBD is still developing, studies show that CBD interacts with several receptors in the brain that regulate fear and anxiety. Many people consume legal CBD products regularly to help manage anxiety, so, you can see why CBD would be ideal to have when you're freaking out on a plane. But is it legal to fly with CBD?
This is a complicated question to answer, because laws around cannabis are quickly evolving, explains Rick Weissman, president of High Falls Extracts, a New York-based CBD company. In most states, it's legal to possess CBD products and bring them across state lines, he explains. But since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed in December, which allowed for the marketing and sale of hemp-derived products, many CBD manufacturers have been anxiously waiting to see the new official rules and regulations around hemp. Those won't be implemented by the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture until the end of the 2019 calendar year. "In short, the CBD universe is in regulatory limbo," Weissman says.
Technically, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states on its website that, "possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products, such as cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law." Meaning, per the TSA rules, you aren't allowed to bring CBD in a carry on or checked bag. While the TSA doesn't directly search for marijuana or drugs, if they come across a substance that "appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product," then they will contact a law enforcement officer. "As a general word of caution about traveling with CBD, I would counsel those people doing so, to do so discreetly and not flash it in the face of authorities," Weissman says.
But what if your CBD product is made from hemp, not cannabis? Weissman says that hemp-derived CBD products should be okay to fly with, while CBD derived from marijuana is still against the law on a federal level. This is just another example of how cannabis industries are operating in a grey area. "In this era of transition, where the federal authorities have yet to come down with definitive rules on CBD marketing and use in many products, many states or local governments are creating their own rules," Weissman says. For example, in some states, the local authorities are stricter and may take action if someone is found with a CBD product. (FYI, it's a good idea to know what the laws are surrounding cannabis in the place where you're traveling ahead of time.)
So, keeping all this in mind, it's probably best to find a different way to chill out on the plane that doesn't involve CBD, such as a calming breathing technique or a cute new Netflix romcom. While they may not make you as chill as CBD, it's probably less stressful than packing it and tempting fate.
Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws.