Despite being declared a legal substance through the 2018 Farm Bill, loads of red tape still surround hemp as an agricultural commodity. The reason? Not everyone fully understands what it is and how it’s different from marijuana.
Generally speaking, you should be able to move around the country with your pockets full of hemp and not a care in the world. But because of gray areas in hemp law, people are still stuck wondering -- can you fly with CBD hemp flower?
Does the TSA Look for Hemp Flower?
It’s the TSA’s job to look for immediate threats to passenger and guest safety. And whether or not you want to believe it, drugs aren’t necessarily on the top of their list. In fact, across the globe, the body responsible for detecting illegal substances would be customs at your destination.
But it doesn’t really end there. Although the TSA doesn’t actively look for drugs, they are required by law to notify the police if in case they come across questionable packages.
So why should hemp enthusiasts even be worried about carrying hemp through the airport, especially since it’s not even a drug? It all lies in hemp’s close resemblance to marijuana.
Even with our advanced technology, there is currently no immediate way to distinguish hemp and marijuana from one another. At a glance, both herbs look exactly the same, so a visual inspection brings inconclusive results.
And while you can send a sample to a lab for testing, results could take days, weeks, or even months to return. So if in case a TSA agent finds reason to believe that your hemp is actually marijuana, then you could get into some trouble.
What Happens If You’re Caught With Hemp Flower at an Airport?
So let’s say you run into a TSA agent who’s not too hemp savvy, and they think your stash is marijuana. What happens then? Of course, your first option would be to plead your case. Explaining what your stash actually is and providing evidence to that end should get you off the hook.
But if the agent insists that the stash is questionable, then they have every right to call in the police. During this time, they might inspect your hemp and ask further questions to identify what the substance actually is.
Would they have the right to penalize you right then and there? Well, that depends on where you are. Some states and cities have strict laws that control the movement of hemp. So if you’re carrying hemp through their jurisdiction, they could place a fine on you, or worse.
But if you’re in an area where hemp laws are pretty relaxed, then the worst you can expect is that they’ll take away your stash and probably hold you until you miss your flight.
Can Detection Dogs Tell the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
Unfortunately not. Remember that hemp and marijuana come from exactly the same plant and tout the same chemistry, with the sole distinction of their THC levels. So on the level of smell, they may be particularly indistinguishable.
That said, a security dog could alert its handler of your stash but only if they’re trained to sniff out cannabis. Remember that most of the security resources available at the airport -- from scanners to dogs -- find purpose in detecting immediate threats like bombs and weapons.
Most of the time, security dogs at the airport don’t receive training for sniffing out drugs and other substances. It’s only when airport security has reason to believe that a passenger is carrying such items that they call in the police who might have drug-sniffing dogs.
Can You Fly with Hemp Flower?
If we’re basing things off of the 2018 Farm Bill alone, you should be able to fly with hemp flower. But that’s not all that’s at play. Remember that on a federal level, hemp is legal. However multiple states, cities, and counties have imposed their own laws on the use and possession of hemp.
You should be able to fly with hemp domestically given that your point of origin and your destination both have relaxed hemp laws. That’s why it’s important to read through local guides first to find out whether your stash would get you in trouble with customs.
For individuals flying to other countries altogether, hemp and marijuana laws change drastically. In fact, some countries have localized regulations just like the US, so laws might change from city to city. Make sure to familiarize yourself first so you can determine whether your hemp stash has room in your luggage.
Tips for Flying with Hemp Flower
If you just can’t leave your hemp stash at home and you need your daily CBD fix throughout your travels, here are some tips you can use to keep your stash safe and sound.
Don’t Forget the Certificates of Analysis
Every self-respecting hemp vendor releases certificates of analysis or CoAs with all of their hemp and hemp-derived products. These certificates showcase lab findings on chemistry and content, proving that a product is in fact, legal hemp.
In case you run into a particularly zealous TSA agent, showing your CoAs should help clear some smoke. It also doesn’t hurt to bring along original packaging, receipts, and other supporting documents to prove what your stash actually is.
Ditch the Flower
Let’s face it -- flower looks sus as heck. A pack of hemp flowers can definitely raise brows at the airport. So to avoid getting all of those dirty looks and the unwanted attention of the TSA, it helps to ditch the flower altogether.
Products like CBD gummies, chocolates, or even capsules prove to be a little more covert than the flower option. For capsules and tablets, some frequent fliers stick them into supplement bottles to conceal them as entirely different products altogether.
Buy at Your Destination
So you checked local laws at your destination, and it seems hemp gets the green light. Why pack your own stash then? If you can avoid bringing hemp to the airport, then by all means, avoid it.
If you’re flying to a destination with relaxed, friendly hemp laws, then you can stock your stash at home and just purchase the hemp flower you need once you land. Of course, that’s as long as you don’t have any strict preferences when it comes to strains and brands.
In case you do run-in with the TSA and the police, don’t lose your cool. Show your documentation, offer to take a drug test, and reason with them politely and professionally. An argumentative, nervous, erratic persona is likely to get you into more trouble than the hemp flower itself.
And if after all of your well-meaning, well-behaved efforts, they still decide to take your stash, kindly surrender it to them and go on your way.
Your favorite hemp flower strain won’t always have room in your carry-on or checked-in luggage, but that depends on how well you research the rules and regulations in your area and where you’re going.
Keep this information in mind the next time you’re scheduled to fly and keep your hemp stash safe and sound from the prying eyes of TSA agents and authorities who might not be too hemp law savvy.