Good news, nervous flyers: TSA now allows some CBD in carry-ons

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Have you spent any time on the Transportation Security Administration website’s “What Can I Bring” section? It’s worth a perusal, if only to imagine the circumstances under which a person would reasonably want to carry on antlers, or artificial skeleton bones, or cattle prods. While you’re there, you’ll see there’s a new approved substance permissible—in some cases—for carry-on: CBD, or cannabidoil.

NBC News reports the agency quietly updated its rules on CBD and some medical marijuana products over the weekend, allowing passengers to carry on all Food And Drug Administration-approved medical marijuana products as well as certain types of CBD. The CBD products must be hemp-derived, and must meet the criteria described by the 2018 Farm Bill. This is good news for nervous flyers who may want to use CBD to ease their flight anxiety, but it also sounds like it could create headaches as the FDA and passengers work through exactly which CBD products are hemp-derived and Farm Bill-approved.

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The TSA notes on its website that its screening procedures are focused on airline safety, not drug enforcement, and therefore “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.”

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Like the saga of the great-grandmother now suing Disney World and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for detaining her over CBD oil found in her purse at Disney, the potential for CBD to cause confusion at airport checkpoints is not negligible. CBD products aren’t stamped with “Farm Bill compliant,” so it would be up to passengers to understand what’s legally permissable under that law and for TSA screeners to recognize those products as they’re screening. (Like we need further back-ups at security.)

CBD that contains any THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets you high, will not be permitted, nor will recreational marijuana products that contain THC. NBC News points out that it’s not clear how the TSA plans to test products for the presence of THC; the agency says it would refer those cases to law enforcement. My read is that while some people will be within their rights to bring certain CBD products on board airplanes, it’s up to them to decide whether getting those products through security will cause more anxiety than it will alleviate.

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About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.