This week, a woman was arrested at Disney World for carrying a prohibited substance: CBD oil, reportedly used to help with her arthritis pain.
Despite its legalization across 33 states, traveling with weed is tricky, even from one state to another where both have legalized its recreational and medicinal use. But the lines get a little blurrier with CBD oil, which is derived from a chemical component in cannabis and widely touted as a trendy cure-all for hundreds of health problems.
Flying with CBD oil remains illegal, with the exception of hemp-derived sources
As the Points Guy writes, in an airport, TSA agents must involve local law enforcement if a traveler possesses cannabis, regardless of how much they have or if they have a medicinal card. That shouldn’t cause you to panic, though.
“Let us be blunt: TSA officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs,” TSA wrote in an Instagram on their official account. “Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement.”
And getting caught doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be arrested for possession—it depends on your departure and destination states. In a place like Oregon where cannabis use is legal, you might be fine, but in states where it’s still a crime, you might run into trouble. “Last year, Wyoming law enforcement took the position that CBD was a controlled substance and charged felony possession. This year, the law changed,” Alex Freeburg of Freeburg Law said in an email. “I represented an aid worker that was held for two days and charged with a felony over CBD products that were sold in stores here.”
Some local law enforcement may also impose certain limits on cannabis possession; at Los Angeles International Airport, you can travel with up to 28.5 grams of cannabis and eight grams of concentrated cannabis (though this doesn’t guarantee you the same protection at your destination). Other airports might let you leave cannabis in amnesty boxes or return it to your car without repercussions. While the rules on CBD oil are less explicit, you might run into less trouble at airports like these.
Also good news for some CBD oil users: as of December 2018, hemp was legalized under the Farm Bill. So if you travel with CBD oil derived from hemp, it’s considered legal. Traveling with CBD oil derived from marijuana, however, remains illegal. (The content of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the decisive factor, here. Hemp generally contains much less THC than marijuana, which played a role in its legalization last year.)
Still, you might also run into trouble when someone like a TSA agent or police officer can’t distinguish between hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD oil. TPG notes that if a TSA agent catches you with either, at the very least, you can expect a delay in getting to your gate.
You might have problems on cruises or on federal lands
Both Carnival Cruise Lines and Disney Cruise Lines also prohibit CBD oil on their ships. You also aren’t allowed to have any cannabis, CBD included, while visiting any national park, regardless if it’s in a state which has legalized cannabis use; these public lands fall under federal jurisdiction. (Hemp-derived CBD oil likely remains the one exception.)
And while it might be very easy to stowaway a tincture on any mode of transportation, that doesn’t mean it’s allowed. As in the case of the woman at Disney World, she may have been successful in bringing her tincture from her home in North Carolina to Florida, but was still subject to Florida laws on recreational cannabis. You should research any states you’re traveling through and be aware of the repercussions of carrying cannabis ahead of time.
How to stay out of trouble
- When traveling with hemp-derived CBD, research your product’s certificate of analysis and print out the lab report that will confirm its THC content. If you run into trouble, you can provide this to a TSA agent or officer.
- If you’re headed on an interstate road trip and pass through a state where cannabis use is not legalized, you are still subject to that state’s criminal laws.
- If you’re traveling overseas, it’s generally not recommended to bring CBD oil. Both hemp and marijuana may be more heavily regulated at your destination and this can result in greater penalties.
And if you want your CBD oil to ease your flying anxiety, try taking it beforehand. Or find and research a dispensary at your destination that might have your preferred oil in stock.