The acceptance of CBD (cannabidiol) and its benefits are finally gaining momentum among the authorities, especially among those you regularly encounter, like the Transport Security Administration (TSA).
In a recent development, TSA has updated its guidelines  to include a CBD-based drug on flights. TSA’s latest policy on ‘What I can bring?” states:
Carry-on Bags: Yes (Special Instructions)
Checked Bags: Yes (Special Instructions)
Bear in mind that this update clearly restricts CBD products (that can be carried on planes) only to FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex. This means all other cannabidiol products are still NOT allowed on board a flight in the US.
Its policy clearly states:
“Products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018.”
While speaking to CNN , TSA has noted that: “possession of marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products” remain illegal under federal law. It has only approved carrying of Epidiolex after it was “made aware of an FDA-approved drug that contains CBD oil for children who experience seizures from pediatric epilepsy”.
TSA stated in its new notification:
However, it is still not clear on how the TSA intends to enforce the new rule, without having the resources to determine the difference between a hemp-based and marijuana-based CBD product or detect the presence of THC. Besides, it would also need to maintain a database of products approved by the FDA.
But this was no sudden development
Marijuana Moment , an online cannabis advocacy publication which first published this recent update, quoted a TSA spokesperson as saying: “TSA was made aware of an FDA-approved drug that contains CBD oil for children who experience seizures from pediatric epilepsy…To avoid confusion as to whether families can travel with this drug, TSA “immediately” updated TSA.gov once we became aware of the issue.”
Interestingly, the FDA approved the drug almost a year ago.
In any case, prior to December 2018, cannabis products derived from both hemp and marijuana were prohibited from being carried on flights.
With the Farm Bill of December 2018, things took a turn for the better for epilepsy patients who need to depend on Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug, to manage their seizures.
With the passage of the farm bill, CBD, which is the main non-psychoactive (non-intoxicating) component of marijuana, has been legalized at the federal level as long as it is extracted from hemp.
TSA’s previous updates
Since the past two years, TSA has been doing a flip-flop on this decision.
- In March 2017, in response to passengers’ queries, it had tweeted:
While we have no regulations on transporting marijuana, possession is a crime under Federal law. 1/2
12:40 PM – 29 Mar 2017
Our officers aren’t looking for illegal narcotics, but they have to report them to law enforcement when discovered. 2/2
12:40 PM – 29 Mar 2017
- In April 2017, the agency’ updated its website to permit medical marijuana on flights , without any “special instructions”. It read:
Carry-on Baggage: Yes
Checked Baggage: Yes
- Shortly afterward, with the above notification drawing much attention from the media, especially those advocating for cannabis, the website temporarily removed the “Medical Marijuana” section and tweeted that it had made a “mistake”!
We’re sorry for any confusion. A mistake was made in the database of our new “What can I bring?” tool.
11:21 PM – Apr 5, 2017
- Later the website put up another update, in which it stated that medical marijuana is NOT allowed on flights.
Carry-on Baggage: No
Checked Baggage: No
[Insert photo Marijuana NO]
Meanwhile, its website read:
“Whether or not marijuana is considered legal under local law is not relevant to TSA screening because TSA is governed by federal law. Federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana.”
- Even in February of 2018, TSA maintained in its tweets:
Replying to @tsiegl
While we have no regulations on possessing or transporting marijuana products, including hemp/CBD oil, possession is a crime under federal law. Our officers aren’t looking for illegal narcotics, but they have to report them to law enforcement when discovered.
5:06 AM – 20 Feb 2018
CBD-related policy changes by other government agencies
- According to a recent memo (May 2, 2019) by the US Patent and Trademark Office, some hemp products can get a registered trademark . This was in response to the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized cannabis plantation at the federal level.
- On April 25, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau said that CBD can’t be added to alcoholic beverages , since the FDA is yet to clarify its stand on adding hemp-based products in food items.
- On April 18, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that hemp seeds may be imported  from other countries. On April 24, it further announced that the agency is also accepting applications for intellectual property protection .
While both the FDA and the USDA are in the process of broadening their horizon with respect to hemp-based CBD products, medical marijuana and their derivatives, TSA’s most recent step, even if a little delayed, comes as quite a relief to many families that have a child suffering from epilepsy.
- Transport Security Administration official website’s security screening page: What can I bring? https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/medical-marijuana
- https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all [CBDonFlights image]/ https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all-list [CBDonFlights1 image]
- TSA now permits FDA-approved epilepsy drug containing cannabis on flights; By Kate Sullivan and Tammy Kupperman, CNN; Updated 0058 GMT (0858 HKT) May 28, 2019; https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/27/politics/tsa-permits-epilepsy-drug-cannabis-flights/index.html
- Tweet by Canna Advisors, BIG NEWS: New @TSA website says it’s okay to bring medical #marijuana on an airplane, reports @tomangell @MassRoots https://twitter.com/cannaadvisors/status/849667146028208128/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E849680788107010049&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.massroots.com%2Fnews%2Ftrump-administration-approves-pot-on-planes%2F
- Examination of Marks for Cannabis and Cannabis-Related Goods and Services after Enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill; May 2, 2019; https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Exam%20Guide%201-19.pdf?utm_campaign=subscriptioncenter&utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=
- TTB Industry Circular; April 25, 2019 https://ttb.gov/industry_circulars/archives/19-1.shtml
- United States Department of Agriculture; Importation of Hemp Seeds; https://www.ams.usda.gov/content/importation-hemp-seeds
- United States Department of Agriculture; USDA Now Accepting Applications of Seed-Propagated Hemp for Plant Variety Protection; https://www.ams.usda.gov/content/usda-now-accepting-applications-seed-propagated-hemp-plant-variety-protection