The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has just released some long-awaited clarification regarding air travel and cannabis products. In recent months, federal law addressing certain cannabis-based medicines and products has changed in significant ways. But travelers have so far been left mostly in the dark about how those changes impact what they can and can’t bring with them on a plane. Recently, TSA released some clearer guidelines about what cannabis products are acceptable to carry on a plane or check in a bag.
TSA policy on marijuana has always been kind of vague. As states began to legalize medical and adult-use cannabis, and travelers began wondering what they could carry with them, say, on a flight from San Jose to San Diego, California. TSA always reminded travelers that marijuana and cannabis-infused products are illegal under federal law.
At the same time, however, TSA told travelers that their screening procedures focus on security threats. TSA agents, in other words, aren’t looking for marijuana and other illegal drugs. Still, if a TSA agent were to discover weed or any other illegal substances during a security screening, they would report the matter to airport law enforcement. Law enforcement, then, could decide how to handle the situation.
The rules, for all intents and purposes, seemed to dare travelers to take the risk. Bringing weed with you could go badly, or it could simply be a non-issue—if no one discovered it. And there’s no shortage of YouTube videos of people bragging about getting their stash through the gates.
But now, the game has changed. Thanks to the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, aka the Farm Bill, hemp is now legal under federal law. And that means that hemp-derived products like cannabidiol (CBD) are legal—as long as they contain less than 0.3 percent THC. And the FDA has also approved certain cannabis-derived medications, like the pediatric epilepsy drug Epidiolex.
TSA now says these federally-approved cannabis products are okay for travelers to possess in their carry on and checked bags, as Marijuana Moment first reported.
Now that certain FDA approved CBD products and medicines are federally legal, there’s nothing stopping travelers from bringing them with them on a plane. But it’s still possible that a TSA agent could mistake an approved CBD product for something else. And that could prompt them to notify law enforcement.
The TSA also says that the final decision on what to allow or not allow through a security checkpoint rests with TSA officers.
Given the confusion that legal CBD seems to pose law enforcement and the difficulty of distinguishing federally approved cannabis and hemp products from federally banned ones, however, there’s still a chance travelers carrying CBD could face some added scrutiny. Indeed, TSA has acknowledged this concern. “Since this is a new consideration, there may be some that do not recognize the FDA-approved version,” a TSA official told CNN.
Still, the TSA’s clarification about the status of federally approved CBD products should help travelers feel more confident and comfortable bringing their CBD with them to the airport.