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Investigating the legality of flying with CBD

With recreational marijuana now a reality in eight US states, marijuana users are asking a very important question, “Can I fly with cannabis?”

The TSA doesn’t have the clearest position on this, perhaps understandably given that the idea of taking marijuana on a plane would have been unheard of until recently. Furthermore, with CBD laws being notoriously complex, even lawmakers and officials sometimes have trouble working out what’s allowed and what isn’t.

It’s oils and extracts which create the most confusion. Certain CBD oil products are permissible in all 50 states, whereas others aren’t. But generally, you can take CBD oil onto an airplane – and it might just be wise to.

Anti-anxiety CBD promotes a relaxed flying experience

Seasoned flyers may be used to the hustle and bustle of airport and airplane life, but it can be stressful and intimidating for those who aren’t. TSA screenings, testy travelers and the fear of losing your luggage or missing your connection is more than enough to put someone into panic mode.

Therefore, people tend to find one way or another to relax before getting on a flight – perhaps a couple of beers in the departure lounge, a sleeping tablet just before the plane takes off or, for the daring, maybe even a marijuana edible before getting to the airport!

There’s no doubt these experiences can be fun, but high-altitude and low pressure is a recipe for unpredictability, so you want to be careful about what you put in your body, as the effects could be multiplied. Indeed, just recently, a Delta flyer in court confessed that he went into a rage and became physically violent with staff and other passengers after taking a weed brownie.

It’s simply not worth the risk – it’s unlikely anything of that seriousness would happen, but being too high in a confined environment could end up just making your anxiety worse.

However, that doesn’t mean we should write cannabis off as a flight aid. CBD products are derived from marijuana, but don’t have the psychoactive THC compound – in fact, according to British research, CBD actually has anti-anxiety properties.

A study led by neuroscientist Carl Stevenson at the University of Nottingham in England found that CBD had the ability to tweak brain activity to help suppress fear levels. Fear levels are directly proportional to anxiety – therefore reduce the fear and you reduce the anxiety.

If you have trouble with flying, but would rather not drink alcohol or take strong, prescription medicine, CBD oil – ideally in tincture or capsule form for easy consumption – before a flight may work a treat.

But are you allowed to actually bring CBD oil onto an airplane – and if so, are there any specific rules?

Taking CBD oil onto an airplane: the dos and don’ts

The anxiolytic qualities of CBD would make it a no-brainer to take onto airplanes for anxiety purposes – and the great news that, as long as you stick to existing flying laws, you should be just fine.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re flying from one recreational state to another, the TSA is a federal agency and therefore federal laws apply in airports. Marijuana continues to be federally prohibited, so taking pot brownies or THC-laden products into an airport and onto an airplane is a non-starter.

However, CBD isn’t always subject to the same federal restrictions as other marijuana extracts and the plant itself. For example, industrial hemp (with THC concentrations below 0.3 percent) is not federally illegal, and is classified separately from psychoactive marijuana and extract products. In short, providing your CBD oil product isn’t banned federally, you’re pretty much free to take it on a flight.

But not all CBD oils are derived from hemp, and those derived from psychoactive marijuana often contain THC levels above the federal threshold. Surpassing this limit and simply being extracted from marijuana is enough to make cannabis-derived CBD oil banned federally.

That’s the technical situation, but the reality is often different given the legal quagmire surrounding CBD oils, and the common misunderstandings of what’s permitted and what isn’t.

While it’s possible that a TSA agent would confiscate marijuana-based CBD oil, they would have to be clued up on what makes the product legal or illegal – this isn’t exactly their number one priority when conducting screenings. As long as the oil states that it was derived from industrial hemp or makes no mention of THC levels, the chances of being stopped are minimal.

What you really do need to pay attention to are the liquid law on airplanes – liquids in your carry-on luggage can have a maximum volume of 3.4 ounces.

Don’t be intimidated about taking CBD onto airplanes; and if you are edgy, just take oil that clearly labels industrial hemp in the ingredients. Enjoy your anxiety-free travels!

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