First things first: if you’re travelling to another state and feel the temptation to take a little cannabis or cannabis-derived product with you, don’t do it. Doing so is a federal crime. Your medical marijuana card will not save you from a potential prison sentence, a fine and being sent back to where you came from. Obamacare will not save you, either, and neither will the fact that you might be travelling between two medically- or recreationally- legal states. Even the fact that you might be dying will not save you. We don’t want anyone getting busted for a bad reason, even if we wish that cannabis were legal to carry with you anywhere in the United States.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can answer the question …
“What about CBD? It’s not psychoactive, and it helps me, and I’m carrying THC-free CBD with me.”
The answer to this question is really rather quite complex (although we’ll try to simplify): it depends upon where your CBD is derived from.
Should the product you’re carrying with you contain less than 0.3% THC and contain CBD derived from the stem of hemp plants, then it should technically be perfectly legal to carry it to any state. Again, to repeat this over again: CBD from plants that the DEA and FDA do not consider “hemp”, but rather “psychoactive” cannabis, it’s illegal. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) states:
“The term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds, or resins; but shall not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.”
However, if the CBD product you’re carrying is derived from psychoactive cannabis plants – which many are when they’re from dispensaries – then it’s illegal, even if it contains no THC in it. This is because the CBD is still being extracted from the resin of the cannabis plant, rather than the stems of non-psychoactive hemp plants. So, essentially, if the US government deems a product “marijuana” or “CBD from marijuana”, it’s illegal. The US government decides whether something is “hemp” (remember – they’re essentially the same plant) or “hemp-derived CBD”, then it’s somewhat technically legal.
Yet, all is not as simple as it seems. After all, cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabis derivative, and is therefore considered illegal by the DEA. Yes, this means the DEA has listed CBD as a Schedule I drug, even though it doesn’t have any psychoactive effect (as far as we know), is perfectly safe if well-made, and does not have any habit-forming issues!
So how have companies been capable of getting hemp-derived CBD products across to all 50 states?
The answer this time is a bit simpler: loopholes! First of all, many companies will make sure that they state that their products are made from “industrial hemp”, as per Section 7606 of the Farm Bill. This means that hemp-based products from Europe are legal as well, as they too fall under the 0.3% THC limit.
Second of all, this is what the DEA’s Final Action on cannabinoids derived from cannabis says:
“(58) Marihuana Extract–7350
“Meaning an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.”
Yes, this means that even cannabinoids themselves are illegal now, under the newly-created subparagraph 58 and code number 7350 of 21 CFR.1308.11(d).
So, as CBD is illegal, how else are companies making hemp-derived CBD products and getting them distributed?
Well, there’s several other reasons (i.e. possible loopholes) as well, other than the industrial hemp argument. Manufacturers often claim that they use parts of the plant that are not “marijuana” (i.e. stalks and seeds). Another “loophole” is that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may consider oils and tinctures containing CBD food, but not a medicine or even a dietary supplement. The exception to this is:
“… [I]f the substance was “marketed as” a dietary supplement or as a conventional food before the drug was approved or before the new drug investigations were authorized, as applicable.”
In fact, the FDA has even issued warnings to companies who have misstated how much CBD they have in their products, although some companies (such as ones from Europe) have managed to bypass this due to the fact that they were marketing their wares before the DEA and FDA legislated against CBD!
One more thing worth noting is that hemp plants are also considered “marijuana” by the DEA, but the Farm Bill states:
“Notwithstanding the Controlled Substances Act … an institution of higher education or a State department of agriculture may grow or cultivate industrial hemp if … allowed under the laws of the State.”
This means that, if the hemp plant is grown by an institute of higher education (e.g. a college/university) or a state department of agriculture, then it is “industrial hemp”. Grown outside of these legal parameters, “hemp” becomes “marijuana” or “marihuana”!
We certainly are! This is made even more confusing be the fact that, in 2014, the court found that the DEA does not have the jurisdiction to regulate products made from hemp. Despite this ruling, the US government and certain websites have still caused companies like Sisters of the Valley some hassle, restricting the sale of their products wherever possible. This is not an unusual thing to happen, even for people who are growing hemp as legally as is possible!
Give it to me straight – are CBD oils made from hemp plants legal?
“It’s a grey area” is the easiest way to put it, but that doesn’t necessarily translate it to being illegal to ship or carry to all 50 states in the US. However, were you to have an overzealous person checking incoming packages or bags, they may use their discretion and destroy the hemp-containing by claiming it contains “drugs” or “prohibited substances”, although they will not likely arrest you for it, just throw it away. Getting your somewhat-legal hemp-based CBD product confiscated would be an unusual thing to happen, but it’s not completely unheard of!
To state once again, if you haven’t gotten the legal point yet: do not ship any CBD product that you’d need a medical marijuana card to buy. These are not derived from the stem of hemp plants, and are therefore illegal. Do not send it via post. Do not order it to your house or wherever you’re staying (only a very bad or brave company would ship it to somewhere illegal in the first instance). Do not have it with you when crossing state lines, even between two medically- and/or recreationally- legal states.
What about other concerns, like sniffer dogs and the like? Would they be able to detect a hemp-based CBD oil or tincture?
Police dogs are trained to sniff out the beta-caryophyllene and caryophyllene oxide, which is present in most cannabis strains and is the terpene that gives it that “peppery” flavor and smell. Though this terpene may be present in most if not all types of cannabis, in CBD-heavy hemp tinctures, it is present in minute amounts – amounts that most dogs would probably glance over, unless you happen to be carrying a whole bag’s worth or something! One or two bottles probably shouldn’t cause too much concern, though!
I’m still scared, but I need my CBD? What can I do?
Well, as it’s possible to get hemp-derived CBD shipped to all 50 states, you could avoid carrying it over and order it, if possible and you’re able to time it correctly. Sisters of the Valley, Be Trū Organics and Charlotte’s Web Hemp all deliver to all 50 states in the United States and, with the possible exception of maybe a couple of other companies, are probably a few of the most trustworthy companies dealing with hemp-based CBD oils, tinctures, salves, topicals and so on. Be careful with other companies, as the lack of regulation unfortunately means that some less-than-scrupulous companies will try and sell you dud goods.
What about international travel?
Different countries have different laws, and it’s not possible for us to state everywhere in the world you may be able to carry your hemp-based CBD oil with you. However, if you’re travelling to Brazil, Mexico, Canada or Europe, you shouldn’t have many problems, as long as it’s not a product from a medical marijuana dispensary, which may also contain more THC in it than expected and could potentially land you in trouble. In some countries, CBD is perfectly legal – only the THC has been legislated against!
Is the CBD derived from a hemp plant any good, though?
We’ve already mentioned a few, like Sisters of the Valley and so on, who seem to have trustworthy testimonials. However, we will warn you that many products out there are literally snake oil, and often don’t even have the amount of CBD they state they have in each bottle. Some of the worst ones even contain pesticides and heavy metals in them. Furthermore, they often use harsh chemical methods to extract the CBD – which is necessary as there is so little CBD in hemp plant stalks and seeds, if any at all. Also, CBD is most effective when combined with other cannabinoids and terpenes – the entourage effect – but the really good, effective (and far safer) stuff you get from products like Jayden’s Juice, Cannakids’ Tinctures and Evie’s Drops is illegal to carry over to any other state in the United States. Do not do it, even if the label claims to have no THC in them. Remember: CBD is illegal as well.
To summarise …
… Once again, CBD-based products from medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal to carry over state lines, even if they have no THC in them. This is because CBD is a federally illegal substance, and the CBD was derived from a “marijuana” plant as opposed to the stalks of a hemp plant. There will also likely be lots of other terpenes present in a CBD product from a licensed dispensary, as they tend to be whole plant extracts. This means the potential of it being “sniffed out” by security dogs at airports and other state checkpoints.
Meanwhile, CBD derived from industrial hemp is not illegal, as long as it doesn’t claim to provide any health benefits or advertise itself as a health and wellness product. Though some of the best ones are also often whole plant extracts, it is unlikely you will get your product anything more than confiscated should it be found on you when crossing state lines. The only other possibility is if there was some sort of “unevenness” in production, causing a massive amount of caryophyllene to be present in the bottle, which may potentially cause a dog to sniff you out. Again, this is unlikely. Should you still fear law enforcement coming down hard on you, though, just don’t carry it with you when crossing state lines.
So, to break it down further and simplify it (and to reiterate the point): do not travel with any CBD product from a medical marijuana dispensary, even if it claims to have no THC in it. Do not ship it or post it across state lines. Do not get on a plane with it, and do not have it in the car with you. Do not have it on the train, coach or bus with you if you’re crossing state lines using public transport. However, if the product is hemp-based CBD and is from a relatively reliable company, for example Be Trū Organics or the official Charlotte’s Web website, then you shouldn’t get arrested for it – such products are already legal to ship to all 50 states. If the CBD product you use requires a medical marijuana card (or even not, if it’s recreationally legal) to be bought legally in your state – no matter what form it’s in (tincture, topical, edible and so on), and claims to have no THC in it (which it probably will do, even in small amounts) – it’s illegal. Do not carry it with you over state lines.