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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.”
A Traveler’s Guide to CBD
CBD is many a traveler’s secret weapon to ward off jet lag, flight anxiety, or muscle aches — but crossing borders with it can be complicated. Here’s what to know and the best products to try.
Maya Kachroo-Levine is the luxury and experiences editor at Travel + Leisure digital. She has previously edited at Departures, Expedia, Good, Medium, and The Balance, and written for LA Weekly, Time, The Atlantic, Marie Claire, and Refinery29, among others.
If you’ve ever sat on a runway and wished you could eat a piece of candy that would somehow quell your flight anxiety, then we have excellent news: You can. We’d like to formally introduce you to the world of travel CBD. It’s not too good to be true — you really can find delicious CBD gummies to help you relax or even combat anxiety, which is why CBD has become quite popular among travelers.
However, the world of CBD isn’t without nuance. CBD comes in a variety of forms — from gummies and pills, to tinctures and body lotions — and different dosages. The right dose or product for someone looking to relax in business class with an in-flight movie might be different than the type of CBD you’d need to fall asleep while battling jet lag. There are also legal implications of CBD to consider. It’s now widely used in the U.S., but regulations vary from state to state, and CBD is still illegal in many countries.
To help you navigate CBD for travel, we’ve put together an introductory guide to CBD, explaining what exactly CBD is, how to fly with CBD, where you can travel with CBD, and what the best CBD products for travelers are.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is an active ingredient in marijuana. However, CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the “psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana that produces a high,” per the Mayo Clinic. CBD is not always derived from the same plant; you can find both hemp-based CBD and marijuana-derived CBD.
Sixty percent of CBD users take it specifically for anxiety. It’s also been used to treat epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and insomnia, among other ailments and conditions.
You can take CBD orally or apply it topically. You’d generally take CBD orally if, for example, you were combatting anxiety on a flight. However, you might choose to use CBD topically when you arrive at your destination and are trying to ease post-flight muscle aches.
For those interested in ingesting CBD, CBD oils or tinctures are very common — you simply put a drop or two on your tongue, or you might even add a tincture to your beverage. There are also chewables (gummies) or CBD pills you can take. Finally, you can smoke or vape CBD, though not while traveling by plane.
Why does CBD appeal to travelers?
Before we get into the legality of flying or road tripping with CBD, let’s talk about why CBD is growing in popularity among travelers. First and foremost, it’s become a common remedy for travel anxiety. Whether you’re a nervous flier who dreads turbulence, or someone who gets wound a little tight when traveling with family, CBD is a popular way to release some tension in your shoulders and get back to having a great travel experience. For travelers up against significant time differences, there are also fatigue-inducing CBD products to help you find sleep when your internal body clock is completely out of whack. Finally, travelers who are constantly dealing with traveling aches and pains (too many hours in a car or plane, or too many nights on an Airbnb mattress) might turn to CBD — topical or ingestible — to ease their body aches.
Can you take CBD on a flight?
When traveling with CBD, the most important thing to remember is that the legality of these products changes based on your location. In the U.S., CBD is legal at the federal level and has been since 2018. Most states will allow possession of hemp-based CBD, because CBD derived from hemp is guaranteed to have less than 0.3 percent THC. However, if you’re traveling to a state that you know has strict marijuana regulations, research the state laws before bringing CBD — and make sure your CBD products are devoid of THC.
When traveling outside the U.S., rules shift on a per-country basis. CBD is illegal in a few European countries — including Iceland, Monaco, and Montenegro — and Asian countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam. Most African and Middle Eastern countries have banned all cannabis products, CBD included — though Lebanon legalized medical marijuana in 2020, and CBD products are legal under certain conditions in South Africa.
Within the U.S., you can fly with CBD products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC. However, TSA rules very much apply, in that any liquids (oils, tinctures, creams) must be less than 3 ounces. You can bring a CBD vape pen through airport security in your carry-on, but not in your checked baggage.
The best rule of thumb when traveling with CBD is to research whether your destination (and any countries or states you are traveling through to get to your destination) allow CBD. You should also make sure to thoroughly understand the products in your possession, and whether they contain any THC or are purely CBD.
CBD Products for Travelers
Here comes the fun part — what are the best CBD products for travelers? From gummies made in Maui that taste as good as the peach rings of your youth to sleepy time CBD pills to topical CBD cream to soothe your spasms, these are the best introductory CBD products for travelers.
Verma Farms Peachy Pau Hana Gummies
Verma Farms makes some of the best-tasting CBD gummies on the market. Verma Farms’ gummies vary in terms of size and dosage. Their peach rings are each 25 milligrams, which is a fairly hearty dose (making it a great bedtime gummy). If you’re looking for a smaller dose to unwind, just eat half a peach ring, or try their CBD gummy bears, which are 12.5 milligrams.
To buy: $60, vermafarms.com
Highline Wellness CBD Gummies
Highline Wellness’ 10-milligram CBD gummy bears are a Travel+Leisure editor favorite. Anxious travelers will love the sense of calm that comes with popping one of these into your mouth as your flight takes off. They’re all-natural and made from hemp — and they taste great. You can also buy the 20-milligram version of these gummies.
Fab PM Chews
CBD gummy enthusiasts love the flavor of Fab chews — and their PM gummies are perfect for the jet-lagged traveler who needs to get some sleep, or fliers trying to sleep on a red-eye. These gummies contain melatonin.
To buy: From $89, fabcbd.com
Lord Jones CBD Tincture
Lord Jones is a well-regarded, hemp-based CBD brand. Their vegan, sugar-free, alcohol-free tinctures come in two flavors: lemon and peppermint. Both flavors are calming, and you can place a dropper full (10 milligrams) on your tongue for optimal relaxation.
To buy: $55, lordjones.com
My Soul CBD Capsule Travel Packs
My Soul CBD sells travel packs specifically for those on the go. The travel packs make it easy to slip a few capsules in your toiletry case without having to bring the whole bottle. Their Alert CBD capsules perhaps aren’t what you’d first think of as a travel remedy. But these capsules are all about clearing your mind and keeping you calm and focused, which might be exactly what you need if you’re trying to work on the plane or tackle a day of sightseeing after a red-eye.
To buy: $30, mysoulcbd.com
Laura’s Homestead Alternatives Topical CBD Lotion
If you’re someone who — no matter how many travel pillows or compression socks you try — has a kink in your neck after traveling, or pain in your back from a hotel bed, topical CBD lotion is worth trying. This all-natural CBD cream meant to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation is, of course, travel-sized to be TSA compliant.
Beam CBD Recovery Capsule
Another remedy for travel-fatigued muscles is Beam’s CBD Recovery Capsule. While marketed as a workout recovery CBD product, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients are perfect for a traveler recovering from a longhaul flight.