For many people, hemp-derived CBD has become a health staple, and it has many benefits to afford travelers onboard long flights and adjusting to new time zones. The tricky thing to navigate is the law enforcement surrounding CBD when traveling from state to state or overseas.
CBD, after all, comes from the cannabis plant, which has a long history of complications with the law in many parts of the world.
In this article, we'll break down what you should know before traveling with your CBD.
While we've done extensive research to make the laws surrounding the legality of CBD accessible to you, this article should not be taken as legal advice. In most cases, it's best not to travel with your CBD, even if it's legal in the place you're traveling to. You are better off picking up another bottle from a reputable brand when you land.
What Is Considered CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many compounds derived from cannabis. It's most concentrated in hemp plants, but you can also find it in marijuana plants. CBD oils can be made from both hemp and marijuana plants, but since marijuana crops remain illegal under federal law, most CBD oils come from hemp.
CBD is considered a non-psychoactive compound, but it has been studied for its long list of potential health and wellness benefits from supplementing the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Many people turn to CBD products to support an active lifestyle, support a healthy immune response, and combat stress.
CBD extracted from legal hemp crops is a versatile compound. You can find CBD in a wide range of products to suit many different lifestyles from CBD tinctures, capsules, candies, lotions, and vape products.
The Difference Between Hemp And Marijuana
Whenever we discuss the legality of CBD, we need to make a clear distinction between the two types of Cannabis sativa plants.
In the United States, hemp is considered a cannabis plant with up to 0.3% THC by dried weight. It became legalized for farming, production, and sale in 2018 with the United States Farm Bill. Hemp's primary cannabinoid CBD has been the main focus of many health studies, showing a lot of promise as a compound with very few adverse effects.
Marijuana is considered any cannabis plant with over 0.3% THC.
Marijuana and cannabis-infused products including CBD oil derived from marijuana are federally illegal without a medical license, although some states including California, Oregon, Washington DC, and New York have legalized it for recreational use.
Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychotropic compound, which means it doesn't illicit intoxicating effects. Although most CBD products in the United States are derived from hemp plants, where you travel may have different definitions of what constitutes and a marijuana plant, and possession of a banned substance may lead to delayed flights, fines, or even jail time.
For example, throughout most of Europe, the legal THC limit in hemp crops of 0.1%. Therefore, full spectrum CBD with up to 0.3% THC produced in the United States may be illegal in some countries that have legalized CBD.
Can I Fly With CBD Oil In The US?
Before getting onboard your flight, we recommend bookmarking the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)'s statement. The TSA has recently adopted new, friendly guidelines towards cannabis plant products on American flights. However, TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of the law, so their screening protocols are quite rigorous.
In summary, the TSA allows licensed medical marijuana users and American hemp-derived CBD to travel within the United States. The problem is that not all TSA offers are well-versed in cannabis guidelines, which means you might experience security delays and confiscation of your products, depending on the security officer you encounter.
The best thing you can do to possibly help smooth your traveling with CBD is to ensure your products are properly labeled, keep a certificate of analysis of the product on hand, and keep the TSA statement of cannabis guidelines on your phone when traveling—in case they bug you about it.
You still need to follow TSA guidelines when flying with liquid, so your bottle of CBD oil or topical product must be under 100 mL of fluid and in a clear plastic container.
Can I Travel Internationally With CBD?
We do not recommend traveling internationally with CBD, even if it's legal on both sides of the border.
The sentiment surrounding CBD and cannabis is still very closely tied to the moral panic surrounding the marijuana craze—and although times are changing, the laws are still quite slow to adapt. Even crossing Canada with any cannabis-based product—where they've legalized both hemp and marijuana for recreational use—can feel like a minefield to navigate.
If you're crossing international borders, it's best to leave your CBD at home and find legal CBD in the country you're visiting when you arrive.
Some countries don't differentiate between hemp and marijuana, so traveling with CBD (even if it's legal in the states) can land you in some hot water if customs find it.
Traveling To Europe With CBD
While many countries in Europe have legalized CBD, it still remains a legal gray area or is outright illegal in some countries. For example, countries like Sweden, Germany, France, and the UK have CBD listed as an unrestricted compound, while Belarus, Lithuania, and Ireland still have CBD as an illegal substance.
On top of this, the European Union classifies hemp as having a THC threshold of 0.1%, so your American full spectrum CBD oil may be illegal even in the European countries that have legalized it because of its THC content.
It's best that you don't travel with any CBD to Europe.
Traveling To Mexico With CBD
Mexico has more lenient laws towards cannabis compounds, and hemp-derived CBD is legal on both sides. According to the TSA and Mexican law, you can travel with your CBD products as long as the label on your product confirms that it's made from hemp crops and not marijuana plants.
As we've mentioned earlier, the TSA's stance towards CBD oil from hemp is still new as it came into effect in 2020.
Depending on your officer, they might give you a hard time through security.
Traveling To Australia With CBD
Cannabis remains illegal in Australia, and CBD products are only permitted within Australia with a prescription and medical license.
In Australia, CBD is considered a Schedule 4 substance, which means state and federal authorities may enforce harsh punishments if you're found with hemp-derived CBD without the right licenses.
We do not recommend traveling to Australia with your CBD products.
Where Can You Travel In The States With CBD?
CBD is federally legal since the adoption of the 2018 US Farm Bill. However, each state may choose to regulate CBD differently, so it's important that you look to the local laws before traveling to the state with your favorite CBD products.
For example, South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska have murky laws surrounding CBD products. Some of these states only allow CBD isolate products, which means your full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD products may be illegal in the state.
What Happens If My CBD Is Discovered During Security Screening?
As we've stated before, we don't recommend flying with CBD internationally.
TSA offers officially allow CBD products onboard domestic flights as long as it's made with Farm Bill compliance.
If you're traveling across international borders and get caught with CBD oil, the best possible outcome is confiscation of the product and a slap on the wrist. However, since you may be technically breaking the law, you might be denied entry into a country, face hefty fines, or imprisonment (depending on the country's stance towards cannabis and how much product you have on you).
Tips For Travelling With Hemp-Derived CBD
CBD has quickly become a wellness staple for many people looking to optimize their lifestyles. It can be hugely beneficial for those with hectic traveling schedules or those who feel a little nervous flying.
If you're traveling within the United States, where the laws are friendly towards CBD oil, we have some travel tips for you.
1. Travel-Friendly CBD Products
When traveling with CBD, look for travel-friendly options such as soft gels or gummies instead of CBD oil or vape or smokable products.
CBD Lotions and other skincare products are great for travel too, especially if on flights where the skin become dehydrated.
When you're traveling with liquids, there's a limit to how much liquid you can have on you and you run the risk of leakage. For those who get a little nervous on flights, taking a CBD capsule of gummy on-board your flight can help calm nerves. Since there is no smoking on board any aircraft, edible CBD is the best option for travel overall.
2. Carry The Certificate Of Analysis With You
Since the packaging doesn't always tell us the whole story of what's in the CBD product, it's a good idea to print out the certificate of analysis of your CBD oil.
Not all CBD manufacturers will produce a certificate of analysis, but the serious ones who value customer transparency do, which is why it's important to shop with reputable brands. Manufacturers will send off a sample of their products to a third-party lab to test for the cannabinoid levels and the presence of other contaminants.
Having the product's certificate of analysis with you when you fly with CBD within the US, might be able to save you a lot of time through security. It will prove to the office that it has the legal limit of 0.3 percent THC and that it's hemp-derived.
3. Choose Broad Spectrum CBD Products
The biggest concern in the eyes of the law is the THC content. THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana—and it's had a long and troubled history in the eyes of the law.
Even hemp-derived CBD containing the federal legal threshold of THC can be a problematic product in some states, which is why if you're traveling across states, it's best if you picked an option that has zero traces of THC.
While CBD isolates may seem like the right answer, we recommend opting for a broad spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) oil instead. Broad spectrum CBD has a range of cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, and CBC to leverage the benefits of the entourage effect, but has undergone extraction processes to completely remove THC.
The Takeaway: Traveling With CBD
Before you travel with CBD, it's important that you understand the local laws of where you're traveling to. Even in the United States, where CBD oil is legal, state laws may have a different attitude towards your CBD oil.
You should never cross international borders with CBD, even if it's legal on both sides of the border without a valid medical license. The consequences are simply not worth it—suspected violations of law punishments could range from confiscation, fines, or jail time.
If it's legal where you're traveling to, you're better off picking up a new product while you're there or take a break from your CBD regimen for a short period.
Since the distinction between hemp and marijuana is relatively new, traveling with CBD can be a tricky field to navigate. Whenever you're in doubt, it's best to err on the side of caution with the law, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as legal advice. It's your responsibility to check with local state or federal laws before traveling with CBD.