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TSA changes policy to allow some CBD oil and medications on planes

A TSA worker at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Jan. 16, 2019.

The Transportation Security Administration quietly changed its cannabis policy over the weekend to allow passengers to bring some forms of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, plus an FDA-approved marijuana based drug, on flights.

All forms of marijuana were previously prohibited in both checked and carry-on bags. But Sunday, the agency updated TSA.gov to reflect new regulations that allow FDA-approved medical marijuana and products that contain hemp-derived CBD oil. The CBD oil is allowed “as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law” under the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized hemp and hemp derivatives. The development was first reported by Marijuana Moment on Monday.

Hemp derivatives contain little to no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that produces a high.

The TSA’s new rules still ban other forms of marijuana, including certain cannabis-infused products and CBD oils that have THC, which are still illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any violations of that law. It is not clear how the TSA intends to check whether a product contains THC; a TSA spokesperson said that if there were questions of whether a substance was illegal under federal law, the issue would be referred to law enforcement for further adjudication, but that the TSA would not do the testing.

The change was prompted by the only Food and Drug Administration-approved drug that contains CBD oil, Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizures in children with epilepsy, the TSA said.

“To avoid confusion as to whether families can travel with this drug, TSA immediately updated TSA.gov once we became aware of the issue,“ the agency said in a statement to NBC News.

Epidiolex was approved by the FDA last June to treat severe, rare forms of pediatric epilepsy. The TSA spokesperson said the agency recently became aware of Epidiolex and updated its policy accordingly.

The TSA did not offer any other details on other CBD oil that its website says is allowed on flights now.

Regardless, the updated policy is welcome news for CBD advocates, especially after some passengers have been arrested for carrying CBD oil on planes — such as a 71-year-old woman who was arrested at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport earlier this month.

TSA.gov was quietly updated this weekend to reflect new regulations that allow FDA-approved medical marijuana and products that contain hemp-derived CBD oil.

Can You Travel with CBD Oil? What’s the Best Kind?

Ashley Rossi

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

After interning at SmarterTravel, Ashley joined the team full time in 2015. She’s lived on three continents, but still never knows where her next adventure will take her. She’s always searching for upcoming destination hotspots, secluded retreats, and hidden gems to share with the world.

Ashley’s stories have been featured online on USA Today, Business Insider, TripAdvisor, Huffington Post, Jetsetter, and Yahoo! Travel, as well as other publications.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: “A reusable filtered water bottle—it saves you money, keeps you hydrated, and eliminates waste—win-win.”

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: “A week in a bamboo beach hut on India’s Andaman Islands.”

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Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: “Window—best view in the house.”

You can get CBD oil in your coffee, buy CBD oil bath bombs, CBD oil lotions, and even CBD oil dog treats. It’s a buzz-worthy topic in the health and wellness space, but many travelers are left confused about its legality, especially when they’re considering taking certain products on a plane or traveling internationally.

First off, let’s define what CBD oil actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, CBD is “a nonintoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp,” and that CBD oils contain cannabidiol. The types of oils that we’re referring to are oils derived from the hemp plant (not marijuana) and contain only a minimal amount (less than 0.3 percent) of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the intoxicating or psychoactive compound of the plant that makes users feel “high.” It’s common knowledge that this minimal amount of THC does not produce noticeably intoxicating side effects.

Thanks to some recent legal changes around CBD at the federal level, it’s becoming a bit more straightforward. Here’s what I learned about traveling with CBD oil after speaking with Sherri Tutkus, BSN-RN and founder/CEO of the GreenNurse Group, and Joshua Bauchner, a lawyer for the Canafarma Corporation.

Traveling with CBD Oil Domestically

The type of CBD oil that’s derived from hemp oil is what’s legal at a federal level (as of the 2018 Farm Bill) and therefore allowed to be taken across state borders, and, yes, on flights. Other CBD oils, like the type that’s derived from marijuana, are still illegal in some states—so it’s not recommended to take those types across state borders.

You can tell the difference between the two types of CBD oil by reading the product’s label and identifying the amount of THC in it. Only hemp-derived CBD oils (with THC levels below 0.3 percent) are legal to fly with or be taken across state borders in the U.S. It’s also important to note that while CBD oil is legal at the federal level, certain state laws vary in terms of possession of any type of CBD oil.

Here’s the status of flying with CBD oil in the U.S. as of January 2020, according to the TSA’s website:

“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.”

Here’s a more light-hearted explanation from TSA’s Instagram:

Many travelers are left confused on CBD oil’s legality, especially when flying. Here’s what you need to know about traveling with CBD oil.