The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) changed its cannabis policy almost discreetly last weekend, essentially permitting passengers to transport cannabidiol (CBD) oil products and an FDA-approved marijuana based drug on flights. All updates were posted on TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” page, where medical marijuana is allowed on board under specific instructions.
Before this sudden change in regulations, any form of marijuana was illegal in both checked and carry-on luggage.
However, last Sunday TSA initialized a new rule that authorized FDA-approved medical marijuana and CBD oil containing hemp derivatives only.
Due to the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018, the legalization of hemp and hemp derivatives have been installed, thus becoming the base of TSA’s permission of CBD oil in baggage. Other states have followed suit, with Illinois being the latest example of a US state that will soon legalize marijuana.
CBD is essentially a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. Once the federal government legalized hemp in 2018, a non-intoxicating form of cannabis, CBD was also recognized as a legal drug, as it is derived from hemp plants.
The requirement for marijuana products passing through the airport gates, and eventually on flights, depends on whether the items follow the regulations defined within the Agriculture Involvement Act of 2018.
In addition, the items allowed on the plane have to be composed of hemp, which contains no THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that creates a high.
Since other forms of marijuana are still illegal to carry, such as cannabis-infused products and CBD oil that does contain THC, TSA officers are required to report any findings regarding violators.
TSA informed the public that the real motivation behind the change in policy is the brand new “FDA-approved containing CBD oil for children who experience seizures from pediatric epilepsy”.
The organization was referring to the drug Epidiolex, a legal prescription derived from cannabis that was federally approved for distribution that ultimately helps children with seizures and epilepsy.
Although the main objective for the new regulation was for soothing children’s epilepsy, the permission of medical marijuana does aid others, even those who do not have serious medical problems. Many people have to deal with nervousness of flying, and medical marijuana is quite helpful in that department as well.
Perhaps CBD oil with THC and other forbidden cannabis-infused products are not permitted by the TSA; however, the agency is not planning to set time aside to screen those illegal items in passengers’ luggage. If any illegal substance is detected, though, TSA officers are required to refer the case to law enforcement agencies.
There have been instances where passengers attempted to bring medical marijuana on flights before TSA’s legalization. Earlier this month, a 71-year old woman was arrested for possession of medical marijuana at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. With this change in policy, people could bring aboard prescribed cannabis for injuries as well.
The policy has indeed changed, but TSA still advises there are risks tied to bringing medical marijuana on flights.
At the end of the day, the agency warns that the final decision rests with the individual TSA officer.
Moreover, the current tests used cannot detect the difference between THC and CBD products, causing more uncertainty on the decision of flying with CBD oil. That said, the organization is working on solving that inconvenience in the future.
While the policy is still new and arguments have arisen against its efficiency, CBD advocates have welcomed TSA’s regulation.
Not only will more confusion and conflicts between officers and passengers with medical marijuana lower, but the rule will also showcase significant, and maybe historical, influence.
First, the change in policy depicts the split between the federal and state levels of government on the topic of cannabis for particular uses, specifically recreational use.
Furthermore, TSA’s most recent regulation showcases that Congress is becoming more swayed on the legalization of marijuana overall as they began listening to the public.
TSA has an off-again, on-again relationship with the permission of marijuana on flights due to the expansion of more states legalizing the product. Initially, the agency stated that “yes”, all cannabis is unrestricted on board. However, as soon as the announcement became known to the public, TSA reversed their decision and banned any form of marijuana in airports and flights.
Once the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized hemp products, TSA was yet again forced to reconsider their decision on cannabis taken within flights on either carry-on and checked luggage. With that in mind, the agency updated their site by including the key words (“special instructions”) and allowing cannabis derived from hemp.
Although TSA battled with this new regulation for quite some time, the policy is still not as friendly as it seems, as there could be serious repercussions attached to flying medical marijuana across the globe.
Marijuana still remains a Schedule 1 drug, which, through the federal government’s perspective, is an illegal dangerous substance which lacks medical merit that the TSA has ultimately recognized.
Flying with cannabis, even in airports located in states that legalized the possession of medical and recreational marijuana, can result in anxiety and hassle.
While the regulation sounds too good to be true, especially for those who really benefit from taking medical marijuana for a more pleasant, calm, and safe flight, some people believe that there could be more anxiety with the new rule.
People will be most likely within their rights to transport CBD based cannabis, but it is up to the passengers to find out if their items are permissible on board. Therefore, the hassle could lead to more anxiety, rather than alleviating that stress of airports and flying.
In fact, that kind of feared confusion prone with the establishment of the new regulation has been already seen.
A woman is now suing Disney World and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department after spending 12 hours in jail for possession of CBD oil in the amusement park.
While the woman had a doctor’s note along with her prescription, she was still detained and held for release at a $2,000 bond.
Even Americans who have a prescription for medical marijuana could face trouble at the airports now.
For roughly two million medical marijuana patients in the United States, the new regulation could elevate the tension of transporting cannabis on flights.
While the TSA policy change is significant, there are still some questions and concerns left unanswered.
Yet the step forward on recognizing people’s medical conditions and cannabis’ aid towards those problems is something to be acknowledged.