Over the Memorial Day Weekend, the Transportation Security Administration updated its policy on what travelers can bring; specifically, certain forms of medical marijuana made the pre-approved list.
On Sunday, the TSA revised its “What Can I Bring?” guidance Webpage, stating that Epidiolex and some CBD oil may be permissible to pack. Prior to the announcement, all forms of marijuana were prohibited in both carry-on bags as well as checked luggage. Now, medical marijuana is allowable according to the TSA.
On their “What Can I Bring” guidance, the TSA lists items as being “Yes” or “No” items, meaning that they can be packed in carry-on bags or checked bags, so long as they are marked “Yes”. Medical marijuana made the “Yes” list, with some special instructions.
The TSA states that “possession of marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products, including some cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and certain cannabis-infused products.
“Products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the FDA are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018.”
TSA’s flip-flop history with marijuana
The TSA doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to taking a substantive stance on medical marijuana. The agency has flip-flopped on the issue in the past, especially as more states tackle the issue of the legality of marijuana.
In April 2017, the TSA updated the medical marijuana section of the “What Can I Bring?” webpage, stating that medical marijuana could be brought in carry-ons or checked bags.
“TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs,” the webpage said in 2017. “In the event a substance appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
Shortly after the page garnered national press attention, the TSA tweeted that a mistake had been made in the “What Can I Bring?” database, retracting their previous statement and clarifying that cannabis products, medically approved or otherwise, could not be brought on airplanes.
This recent revision brings hope to patients that require Epidiolex and certain CBD oils.
What does this mean for medical marijuana patients?
These revisions to the TSA packing policies come a little less than a year after the FDA legalized a drug called Epidiolex. Epidiolex is a drug that is used to treat epilepsy in children and contains marijuana components.
The TSA issued a statement which clarified that they were recently made aware of the drug and that they would update their regulations accordingly to ensure families could bring the drug when they were traveling.
This new policy also allows some wiggle room for some, emphasis on the “some,” CBD oils. According to the TSA, CBD oils may be packed in either carry-on or checked luggage so long as “it is produced within the regulations defined by the law” under the 2018 Farm Bill.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derivatives, as many marketed CBD oils are low-in or have no THC, they are considered legal under the eyes of the Farm Bill and can be packed in luggage.
The new TSA rules still ban all other forms of marijuana, including those CBD oils which contain THC. What’s not as clear is how TSA agents will determine which products have THC and which don’t.
What does this mean for the medical marijuana and CBD industry?
Prior to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the legalization of Epidiolex, the TSA did not distinguish between marijuana and hemp-derived products such as some low-THC CBD products.
Now, the TSA will allow certain cannabis products in passengers’ luggage so long as they do not contain THC in accordance with federal regulations classifying cannabis as a Schedule I drug.
With the legalization of industrial hemp as well as its derivatives, multiple federal agencies are following suit with the TSA and are revising their policies to provide clarification on what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to hemp products.
For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has told their stakeholders that they are allowed to import hemp seeds from other countries, and they are even accepting intellectual property protection applications for hemp products. Additionally, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also released a memo earlier in May stating that certain hemp products might qualify for trademark registration.
With the FDA scheduled to hold a hearing on the possibility of developing broader regulatory guidelines for hemp and hemp derivatives, patients may live in the hope of being able to travel with their marijuana-based medication.