The Scoop on Air Travel with Hemp-Derived CBD & Cannabinoids

The Scoop on Air Travel with Hemp-Derived CBD & Cannabinoids
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The Scoop on Air Travel with Hemp-Derived CBD & Cannabinoids

December 16, 2020

The holidays have definitely arrived and, for those of us who may be travelling, being informed before we arrive at the airport is key.  Join Zilis Director of Regulatory and Legal Affairs, Joy Beckerman, as she gives us the 411 on traveling with our hemp-derived CBD and Precision Spectrumproducts and making it through TSA smoothly.

As we look ahead to future air travel, we thought you may find it helpful to understand the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policy and ins and outs of bringing your favorite Zilis UltraCell and Precision Spectrumcannabinoid supplements and skincare products along with you. We will first start with TSA’s officially stated policy, which – due to residual conflation between forms of the genus Cannabis – is located within its “Medical Marijuana” policy. As it relates to TSA’s jurisdiction within airports, the policy affirmatively and officially gives the green light to bring hemp extract products with you in both your checked luggage and carry-on bags. It states:

Marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis1 or that are approved by FDA. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.)  TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities. 

TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, 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.

As our readers know, Zilis UltraCell and Precision Spectrum ultra-compliant cannabinoid supplements and cosmetics are derived from legal hemp and primarily contain non-detectable amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), which is the potentially intoxicating component within the genus Cannabis. While Federal law, and thus the TSA, permit hemp extract products to contain a concentration of up to “0.3 percent THC,” Zilis’s superior quality cannabinoid products contain nothing close to that allowed amount.

Things have come a long way since the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the “2018 Farm Bill”)2 which reclaimed the safe, valuable, versatile hemp crop as an agricultural commodity and liberated the hemp plant and all of its parts, extracts, derivatives and cannabinoids from the Controlled Substances Act at the Federal level. Of course, the U.S. Constitution provides for States’ Rights, so our 50 U.S. States are free to choose how they wish to regulate the crop and the wide spectrum of products made from hemp. A colorful patchwork of State law and regulation related to hemp extract products now fills the U.S. map. If a TSA agent flags an issue at a checkpoint that the agent believes violates the law, it is reported to local law enforcement within the airport; so it is important to be mindful of the way the State in which the airport is located treats hemp extracts, which is very often open to interpretation during these nascent stages of this emerging industry and public health revolution.

What to Expect at the Airport

Regardless of whether you’re carrying a hemp extract product with you, it is of course important to be mindful of the TSA checkpoint screening Liquids Rule. Compliance with this policy keeps the line moving efficiently, keeps you on time for your flight, avoids what I call “rookie traveler embarrassment,” and mitigates potential and unnecessary confusion over the hemp extract products that may be in your carry-on(s). The Liquid Rule states:

You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.

Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste that alarms during screening will require additional screening.3

TSA is very clear that its screening is focused on security and protecting passenger safety. Worrying that TSA dogs will be sniffing your belongings for any form of Cannabis is unfounded, according to TSA spokesperson Carrie Harmon, who confirms “TSA canines only search for explosives and explosive components.” Harmon further explains, “TSA security officers don’t search for marijuana or cannabis-infused products. However, in the event a substance that appears illegal is discovered during security screening, TSA officers will refer the matter to law enforcement. Law enforcement officers then follow their own procedures.”

Should I Bring Documentation for My Hemp Extract Products Just in Case?

I am an experienced traveler well-versed in TSA’s Liquid Rule, and I have personally traveled hassle-free through airports located in multiple states with no documentation regarding the hemp extract products in my bags other than the label affixed to the product itself. However, if you or a family member are nervous, bringing the product’s Certificate of Analysis (“CoA”) along with you at the checkpoint could prove to be helpful in the highly unlikely event that your hemp extract product confuses TSA and causes an agent to flag it.

As is both a current best practice and required by multiple State laws, Zilis’s hemp extract product CoAs are available online4 and can also be accessed by simply scanning the QR code on the label. Zilis uses only the most experienced, accredited laboratories to conduct the rigorous, third-party testing of our hemp extract products. Among a multitude of consumer information regarding the safety and quality of Zilis hemp extract products that can be learned from our CoAs,5 is the quantification of cannabinoids in the product, such as CBD and THC.

Printing the CoA and carrying it with you at the airport so you have formal, verifiable documentation regarding THC quantification can calm nerves and could eliminate a burdensome delay as you rush for your flight. As an added precaution in the event you encounter a new TSA agent or one who just isn’t familiar yet with how TSA treats hemp extract products, consider printing TSA’s current policy or keeping the link to that policy6 handy at the checkpoint to reference and show.

What if I’d Rather Not Bring it with Me?

If you prefer not to bring your hemp extract products to the airport with you, investigate their legal status within your destination and ship your product there or investigate availability for purchase there. It is not recommended to take hemp extract products with you to international destinations unless you have confirmed with a qualified and experienced legal expert that these products are legal in that country (and within the specific jurisdiction of that country). For example, despite Canada’s having regulated the hemp crop since 1998 for its grain and fiber, it is still, as we sit today, unlawful to bring hemp extract products across the U.S-Canadian border.

The United States is by and large the most friendly to and embracing of hemp extract products. Being informed of International or State law and practices, complying with the TSA Liquid Rule, and, if nervous, following the additional guidance here, will help to keep your hemp extract supplement and skincare routine on track as you travel. Consumers, stakeholders, and law enforcement at every level are working together as we carve out a new world of health and science and deliver on the promise of hemp!

Happy, safe travels! Join us next week as we look at what it takes to stay compliant in the CBD business with our December Top 5 Tips from Zilis’ Compliance Analyst Ambrosio Casarez.

Emphasis added.

2 Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018; S. 3042; Pub.L 115-334, at §§7129, 7501, 7605, 10113, 10114, 11101, 11102, 11119, 11121 and 12619.

3 www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule (last visited November 30, 2020).

4 www.COA.Zilis.com; https://zilis.com/certificate-of-analysis/ (last visited November 30, 2020).

Including purity analyses, such as pesticides, residual solvents, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and microbiology.

Once again, found at www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all-list at “Medical Marijuana” (last visited November 30, 2020).

About Zilis’ Scientific Research & Development Department

Our Scientific Research and Development Department is headed up by Dr. Marielle Weintraub, a hemp industry expert. She holds a master’s and a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience and is very active in many dietary supplement and hemp industry trade associations, including her role as the current President of the U.S. Hemp Authority. Dr. Weintraub is committed to the continued development of hemp-specific information and testing to fulfill the Zilis mission.

Science posts for Discover are co-researched and co-written by Kelly McGill, Senior Scientific Technical Writer at Zilis. Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in Linguistics / TESL. She has been writing science-related content for over 20 years and is an expert in making difficult concepts easy to understand.

Zilis is the creator of UltraCell™, a CBD oil product derived from hemp. Based in Argyle, Texas, a suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth, Zilis is privately held. Visit zilis.com for more information.

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