Is it illegal to fly into the United States with CBD oil?

Is it illegal to fly into the United States with CBD oil?

CBD oil is part of the daily routine for thousands of people, so if you're considering a holiday or a business trip, then you might be wondering if you can take it with you. It may seem as easy as popping it in your bag and boarding the plane, but the rules in the United States can be complex. In this blog, we ask 'can I travel with CBD oil?'  

Federal law vs state law

Rules in the United States on cannabis-infused products are made and governed by separate authorities at a country-wide level (federal law) and at a state level. Before you travel, you need to know the rules of both, or you risk being caught out.

Don't just check the federal law and assume you'll be ok, because local law enforcement officers at your destination may take a different stance on it.

As in the case of Lena Bartula, who in 2019 at the age of 71, was arrested at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport after officers found CBD oil in her hand luggage. She spent two nights in jail before the case against her was dropped by local prosecutors.  

What does the federal law say? 

Airport checks in America are the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). On their website, they make it clear that 'marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some cannabidiol (CBD) oil products, remain illegal under federal law'.¹ However, there are some exceptions: 

  • products that contain no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis 
  • products that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 

To unpick this, we need to know a bit more about THC and what products the FDA has approved for use in the US. 

What is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)? 

Tetrahydrocannabinol is an organic compound found in some species of cannabis plants. It's similar to CBD but with one big difference - it can get you 'high'. 

Hemp (a species of the cannabis plant) is considered to have no THC - or at least less than the 0.3% threshold stated in federal law. In 2018, the Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, so it can now be legally grown in the US. 

What products are approved by FDA?

The FDA has only licensed one product for use in the United States - Epidiolex. This prescription drug is used to treat seizures in two rare and serious forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS)².

It makes it clear that it is illegal to add CBD to food, or label it as a dietary supplement. 

What does the state law say? 

You might assume that flying with hemp-derived CBD oils is safe as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC, but, unfortunately, it's not as straightforward as it seems. 

Each individual state (and there are 50 of them!) has its own take on the rules. In Utah, for example, it is legal to use CBD oil with less that 0.3% THC, but CBD edibles are illegal with the exception of gelatin cubes (similar to CBD gummies).³

In North Carolina, it is illegal to grow hemp, but you can use it for medical purposes as long as it contains less than 0.9% THC. Hop over the border into Virginia, and CBD is legal, as long as it follows the guidelines set by the FDA.⁴

If you're planning on passing through more than one state during your trip, then we recommend making a note of the rules for each state.  

What about medical marijuana? 

Marijuana is illegal under federal law. Although, the TSA makes it clear that their focus is on security, and they are not there to search for marijuana, if they do find an illegal substance on you during routine screening, they will refer it to law enforcement. 

Though, medical marijuana is legal in 37 states, and recreational marijuana is now legal in 18 states, you have to ask yourself, is it worth the risk if you get stopped by the TSA?

Travelling with CBD products 

Flying with CBD oil is anything but straightforward where America is concerned, but if you need to travel with these products, then there are things you can do to prepare.

  1. If you're travelling to America with a UK-approved drug that contains cannabis, take your prescription with you to show on arrival. If possible, leave your medicine in its original packaging, so it can be verified by officials. 
  2. For CBD products, we recommend taking its certificate of analysis (CoA) with you. This should include the amount of THC it contains, a list of other ingredients, and where and when it was tested.
  3. Before you go, print out the TSA's most up-to-date regulations or save a link to their website on your phone, so that you have something to refer to if you are stopped by an agent, who is new in the job.
  4. Look at the rules in the state you are visiting, so you know what to expect, and if it's possible, consider buying CBD over there so you don't have to travel with it. 

If the worry of travelling with CBD outweighs the benefits, then it might be worth considering whether it's better all round to leave it at home. 

The key takeaway

CBD oil with small amounts of THC (under 0.3%) is legal in the US at a federal level, but don't get caught out by the differing rules in each state. Before you travel, check the local laws in the states where you will be staying as they could be different.

Travelling with CBD isn't straightforward, but there are things you can do to mitigate the risk, including being able to prove the THC content of your products, or having your prescription with you and the original packaging for your drugs.

Ultimately, the final decision on whether you can bring CBD into the United States lies with their officials. If the benefit of having it with you outweighs the risks, then be prepared to answer their questions on arrival.


  1. Transportation Security Administration [online] What can I bring? [cited 22 Sept 2021] Available from: 
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration [online] FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products including Cannabidiol (CBD) [updated 22 Jan 2021; cited 22 Sept 2021] Available from:
  3. HealthCanal [online] Is CBD legal all states? Or are there some exceptions? [updated 10 Sept 2021; cited 22 Sept 2021] Available from: 
  4. HealthCanal [online] Is CBD legal all states? Or are there some exceptions? [updated 10 Sept 2021; cited 22 Sept 2021] Available from: