I stepped outside a few days ago and felt something different in the air. Just peeking from behind the typical curtain of heat and humidity that is a compulsory feature of a South Florida morning, I detected a nearly imperceptible “crispness” — which is, essentially, the only indication you’ll get that autumn is coming to the tropics. It got me thinking about the impending stress of the rapidly-approaching holiday season, which in turn got me thinking that maybe I could use a little break before things really started to ramp up. So I did what anyone planning a getaway would do — I made myself a cup of coffee, jumped online, and started looking at flights! The thought came out of nowhere and made me pause — what about my CBD? A little backstory: I began taking CBD tinctures, like these from DirectCBD, a few months ago and noticed that I seemed to possibly sleep a bit deeper and have generally lower stress levels throughout the day. Since then, CBD has become a regular part of my morning and evening rituals… and, I’m not really too keen on stopping. So the question then, on my mind as well as many others, is how do you safely and legally travel with CBD?
I recalled the news stories I’d read about the unfortunate Florida great-grandmother who wound up spending 12 hours in jail for her innocent attempt at taking her CBD into Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. I recalled the story of the 71-year-old woman who spent two nights in jail after being apprehended with CBD at the Dallas/Ft Worth Airport in Texas. Having no interest in spending ANY time whatsoever in jail, I did what any reasonable, responsible, and law-abiding person would do: I asked Google. Long story short, I received the most complicated one-word answer possible to my question of “Can I travel with CBD?” — Maybe. Maybe? MAYBE?!?! I needed answers, and “maybe” just wasn’t going to cut the mustard as, I already mentioned, I am unwilling to spend ANY time AT ALL in police custody. I began doing my own research. I went to the TSA site, various major airlines’ sites, the websites of states I was thinking about visiting; and slowly but surely began to understand why the answer of “maybe” was actually (and unfortunately) fairly accurate. This is a question with no simple answers. At least for the time being, traveling with CBD is an activity fraught with numerous potential pitfalls and perils. And as it turns out, the only way to get truly specific answers is to ask very specific questions!
I consulted with my doctor before beginning to use CBD, and it was starting to seem like a good idea to consult with my lawyer prior to traveling with it! Although I ultimately ended up going on my trip without seeking my lawyer’s advice, I certainly wouldn’t fault anyone who did. The key to travelling with CBD is knowing the specifics of your trip, including your destination; layovers; and carrier, then taking those individual pieces and researching the specific laws and/or policies pertaining to those jurisdictions and/or organizations. Do this, and be willing to make changes to your plans, and you stand a better chance of coming out alright on the other side! My first stop was the TSA site. My reasoning for this was that it wouldn’t matter which carrier I booked or destination I planned to visit if I couldn’t first make it through the security screening. The only mention of CBD I could find on the TSA’s site was on a page dedicated to explaining their policy on Medical Marijuana, stating:
“Marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities.
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.”
Not exactly the treasure trove of specific, detailed, and relevant information I was looking for. My next stops were at the websites of various major airlines, where my searches for “CBD” and “cannabidiol” turned up a whole lot of nothing. Interesting, considering that the airlines usually have a variety of opinions on all sorts of various and sundry items and activities but are mysteriously silent on this topic. Hmm. As my intended destination was the city of Seattle, WA – my last stop on my search for CBD travel answers was to the website of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, where I found an article directed toward food processors clarifying the use of CBD as a food additive. Essentially, the state defers to the FDA’s guidelines and since the FDA has not approved CBD as a food additive, the state of Washington doesn’t either. As an interesting side note, Washington is one of the states where marijuana is legal for recreational use without any type of permit or license needed for consumers. After much digging, it appears that although it can’t be added to a food product sold anywhere other than a licensed dispensary, CBD is perfectly legal in my preferred tincture form.
In my unique circumstances, everything worked out ok. I had a great time sightseeing, was not accosted by the local constabulary, and the TSA didn’t seem to pay much attention to my CBD oil. Did I just get lucky? Who knows. I think the takeaway here is that it pays to be diligent. Do your homework — research the national, state, and local laws for your destination, get familiar with the TSA website and stay up to date on changes to the law, keep the airline carriers on your radar in case they start to issue specific regulations, and keep your fingers crossed for the day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, where we get some clearer insight into how CBD fits into our travel plans. Until then, fingers crossed!