Summer is in full swing, and many people are taking to the skies. But flying is especially stressful in the post-pandemic era, to the point that complying with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines is sometimes the least of your anxieties.
Fortunately, the laws around flying with recreational cannabis are pretty straightforward: While TSA isn’t specifically searching your carry-on for cannabis, they will need to report you to local authorities if it is found.
Since attempting to bring cannabis from one state to another is technically a violation of federal drug trafficking laws, we don’t recommend pushing this one.
When it comes to cannabis variants, however, the rules are a bit hazier. The rising popularity of detla-8 THC, a cannabis compound reported to be less potent than the more well-known delta-9 THC, has led many to wonder whether it’s legal to transport it across state lines.
We looked into TSA regulations for delta-8 products to save you from a missed flight (or worse).
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What does TSA say about delta-8?
TSA Spokesperson Lorie Dankers shared TSA’s official stance on flying with cannabis products with us at GreenState. Essentially, if you are caught with cannabis in your bags in any US airport, law enforcement will be summoned and you could face federal charges.
“It is important for me to note that TSA’s response to the discovery of marijuana is the same in every state and at every airport – regardless of whether marijuana has been or is going to be legalized,” Dankers said. “This also covers medical marijuana.”
But does delta-8 count as a cannabis product?
The answer isn’t as straightforward as you’d think. Cannabis is a Schedule I drug, meaning it is fully prohibited under federal law. But under the 2018 Farm Bill, any hemp-based product containing less than 0.3 percent THC is legal. This is why you can bring CBD products on a plane, but not recreational cannabis products.
The “THC” discussed in the 2018 Farm Bill references delta-9 THC, the most popular kind of THC found in most cannabis products. Because of this, delta-8 sits in a weird legal gray zone. Yes, it’s technically legal (since it does not contain over 0.3 percent delta-9 THC), but it can cause psychoactive effects, and because of that, among other concerns, certain states have taken steps to make it illegal.
When we asked Dankers to explain TSA’s guidelines concerning delta-8 specifically, she said TSA has no stance on the compound at this time.
So, bring it at your own risk. We recommend you don’t.
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The safest option is to wait and buy delta-8 once you land (if it’s available in the state you’re traveling to), or go without.
But if you’re determined to risk it, the best approach is to be as transparent as possible. Bring a high-quality delta-8 product with clear labeling and a full ingredients list. Educate yourself on the legality of the product in the state you are leaving from, the one you are going to, and at the federal level, so you can explain what the product is and defend its legitimacy if questioned. If you have a medical marijuana card and/or a note from a medical professional recommending delta-8 for medicinal use, bring it just in case.
Finally, TSA is not the only entity you need to worry about before bringing delta-8 onto a plane. Some airlines have very specific regulations against cannabis products, so check your airline’s guidelines to be sure delta-8 products are permitted (or, at least, not mentioned).
At the end of the day, TSA exists to keep passengers safe. They are not specifically looking for drugs, but they have a legal obligation to report illicit items found in your baggage.
“TSA’s focus is on terrorism and security threats to the aircraft and its passengers,” Dankers said. “TSA’s screening procedures, which are governed by federal law, are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers.”
Traveling with traditional delta-9 products
Since the laws around delta-8 are hazy right now, it’s hard talk about travel laws concerning this product specifically. While it is technically legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, there’s a lot of confusion about what delta-8 is and what it does.
You shouldn’t face penalties for traveling with delta-8 in the US, unless you’re in one of the few states where it has been made illegal. But there’s always a chance your delta-8 product will be confused with traditional cannabis products. To give you a sense of the risk, we thought it pertinent to go over the laws around traveling with delta-9 THC products.
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Can you fly with medical marijuana?
It can be scary to go without medication. Medical marijuana can be used to help treat many medical conditions from epilepsy to ALS, so being without it can lead to health scares for some users.
As the law stands today, medical marijuana is prohibited on planes. You can be charged with drug trafficking for attempting to fly with medical marijuana products containing over 0.3 percent delta-9 THC in the US. You can fly with CBD products, however, since they were legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.
Still, it is important to check with your airline to ensure that they do not have any specific regulations prohibiting CBD products.
Can you travel across borders by car with cannabis?
While flying might be the fastest way to travel this summer, plenty of people still enjoy a long road trip. Some will even take a trip over the border into Canada or Mexico. But what happens if you cross an international border with marijuana in the car?
When crossing into the US from either country by land border, US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will follow the same federal laws that the TSA follows. It does not matter if you are traveling to or from a legal state, or a country where cannabis is legal. You can still be charged with drug trafficking.
In other words, if you are found at an international border with products containing more than 0.3 percent THC, that decision could land you in prison (even in Canada). At the very least, you’ll be turned away from the border.
Can you drive from state to state with traditional cannabis?
If you travel with cannabis between any two states, whether flying or driving and whether cannabis is legal there or not, you could be charged with drug trafficking and face time in prison.
Traveling with delta-8 is extremely risky right now. Many people don’t know what delta-8 is, so it can easily be mistaken for delta-9 THC. On top of that, the laws and regulations around delta-8 are hazy, even at TSA.
At the end of the day, saving whatever time and effort it would take to find delta-8 at your destination doesn’t seem worth the risk of facing federal charges.