The transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made an enormous change to its long-standing policies of what you can and cannot bring onto planes. The TSA made the amendment which now allows hemp-derived CBD products on planes, in certain circumstances.
Before this change took place, the TSA considered any ‘cannabis product’ to be banned from checked or carry-on luggage, meaning both hemp-derived items and marijuana were prohibited. Since the 2018 Farm Bill meant that hemp and products which derive from it are no longer illegal, this has sparked many changes. In this case, the TSA’s website explains that ‘certain’ cannabis products are illegal under federal law, and agents of the TSA must report any violations such as possession of these ‘certain’ products to officials.
One of the most notable sections of the updated TSA policy reads: “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.”
Enforcement of this may now become more difficult, with it being suggested that officials may have to be trained in the testing of CBD products, to determine whether or not THC is present, as well as keeping an updated version of a database, containing each product which the Food and Drug Administration have approved.
“TSA was made aware of an FDA-approved drug that contains CBD oil for children who experience seizures from pediatric epilepsy,” a spokesperson for the TSA said. They explained: “To avoid confusion as to whether families can travel with this drug, TSA immediately updated TSA.gov once we became aware of the issue.”
There is, however, still confusion, as the CBD prescription drug was approved by the FDA almost a year before the TSA claim to have acted ‘immediately.’ In addition to this, the TSA spokesperson was not able to explain further updates in relation to the broader legalization of hemp-derived CBD, which came into effect under the Farm Bill in December and is referenced on the TSA website.
Aside from these updates, the TSA page on cannabis remains almost identical to the previous version. It states that their work is “focused on security and designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers,” also stating: “If any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
While many states have fought to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes as well as adult use, the TSA has often been unclear on their stance, until they recently changed their terms to allow medical cannabis on board flights. There was then further confusion as the media began to speak about the changed law, with the TSA removing the entire section temporarily, telling viewers that “a mistake was made in the database.” Before long, the agency had changed their story, saying that marijuana was not allowed on planes.
The spokesperson for the TSA said: “Whether or not marijuana is considered legal under local laws 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.”
Once more, this sparked a lot of discussion, with numerous federal agencies having to revisit the laws which have been in place for so long, being required to adapt as industrial hemp and its derivatives are legalized.
One of the suggestions was that particular hemp products could qualify for registered trademarks by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In April, it was explained by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau that CBD is not able to be added to the list of alcoholic beverages, as the FDA are yet to explain their stance on hemp-derived products within the food supply.
In addition to this, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allowed stakeholders within the industry to import hemp seeds from abroad, as well as intellectual property protection applications being accepted.
As the great debate continues, the USDA and FDA are expected to reach a conclusion, setting new and updated guidelines for hemp and hemp-derived products, as they are proving increasingly useful and popular for numerous reasons.