The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has issued an order to allow travelers to bring their Cannabidiol (CBD) oil medication onboard their flight. Authorities made the change sometime during Memorial Day. CBD oil is steadily gaining popularity as a treatment choice for medical conditions like epilepsy, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Several states in the US have legalized the production, sale, and distribution of medical cannabis following the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes the regulations for cultivation of hemp and extraction of CBD, a non-toxic and non-psychotropic extract of the source plant Cannabis sativa.
The Harvard Medical School published a newsletter a few months ago stating that CBD does not cause a “high” when used or ingested. Additionally, CBD oil is also said to relieve pain.
TSA What-To-Bring Guidelines
The TSA official website includes specific rules and regulations on what a passenger can bring to their carry-on and checked baggage. Previously, a strict no for cannabis products such as medical marijuana and CBD oil was issued.
Looking at their page today, the provisions for such products have been changed, indicating that they may be allowed to bring CBD in their carry-on and checked luggage provided that it follows “special instructions”.
According to the website, medications or products that are infused or made with CBD derived from industrial hemp and deemed legal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are allowable. The condition is that it should be produced in consensus to the guidelines stipulated in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
The main issue is that it is hard to differentiate whether the CBD oil carried by the passenger is legal. Policy experts claim that there may be confusion regarding TSA’s screening of what’s legal and what’s not.
It’s also a moot point that several states may have legalized medical cannabis, such as in Hawaii, but the federal law may still consider such products as illegal.
However, TSA’s screening process focuses on security, which includes potential threats to passengers and aviation. Should they discover illegal drugs such as weed, TSA will have to raise the issue to proper law-enforcing authorities.
The TSA policy’s change may raise some questions, but what’s clear is that they put up a “yes” to FDA-approved cannabis products.
Facts Regarding the Matter
FDA approved the epilepsy medication for children, Epidiolex, in June of 2018. This is the first pure cannabis-derived drug substance, which is coincidentally sourced from the same plant species as in marijuana.
The TSA immediately updated their website as soon as they were made aware of the said drug to treat seizures from child epilepsy. This is their answer to parents’ questions of whether they are permitted to travel with the CBD oil medication.
On the basis of a Brooking’s Institution senior Fellow John Hudak, one clear characteristic of the CBD is its THC level. It is known that hemp, from which CBD is derived, cannot have above 0.3% THC level, as per the Farm Bill’s section 10113.
A cultivated cannabis plant that has a higher THC amount that 0.3% will be considered marijuana, which is clearly illegal under federal law.
Also, the government is set on monitoring hemp cultivation closely. The federal authorities need to approve and award a license to interested cultivators before they can operate. This means that CBD produced before the bill is still unlawful.
To solve TSA’s dilemma, it may be a matter of packaging that conforms to what the government may state in their provision. Until then, bringing CBD to flights should be done with extreme caution.
State Bill Requires Lab Testing for CBD Products to Ensure Safety
A new bill introduced at Illinois’ legislative department last Wednesday could subject various CBD products sold at Walgreens, other retailers, and gas stations to a regulated laboratory testing.
Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield) penned the bill that requires every CBD product being sold across the state to meet standard testing requirements developed by the Department of Agriculture.
Answering the need for legislation
CBD-containing products that include oils to caramels to dog treats and bath bombs have taken over the retail market in less than a year. CBD or cannabidiol is the compound extracted from cannabis that does not cause a “high” to its users.
Such items are popular due to CBD being claimed as a miracle remedy for many health conditions like chronic pain and anxiety. However, this substance is still mostly unregulated as of writing. There are a few products that undergo third-party testing as evidence that they contain safe CBD levels, but a standard requirement is yet to be established.
Morgan believes that having such legislation gives the DA the authority to guarantee a product’s safety to consumers.
Chicago CBD company Equilibria Co-Founder Coco Meers stated that there is a wide range of safety and health concerns regarding CBD. Heavy metals, harmful pesticides, and even the incredible amount of CBD in creams might affect the therapeutic benefits of CBD, says Meers.
She also recalled how their search for a supply partner was affected by the lack of regulation and consistency. She stated that everything might be called CBD, but not all of it has the same formulation.
CBD products for sale will be required under the proposed bill to be tested or else be removed from retail stores and online shops, according to Morgan. Projected fines start from $1,000 and rise as violations also add up.
The bill, if passed, will enable the creation of the CBD Safety Fund to which fines will be allocated for enforcement.
Catching up on regulations
President Donald Trump signed legislation late last year that allowed industrial hemp to be cultivated, which is the variety from which CBD is extracted. It has prompted federal regulators to catch up on the many products entering the market.
A study by Brightfield Group, a Chicago-based CBD researching firm, forecasted the industry to grow into a $23.7B market in 2023. Sales for 2019 is also expected to rise to $5B, which is over 700% increase from 2018.
Some states in the US are establishing regulations for CBD products. In Indiana, the labels on such items should have a QR code that contains information like the product ingredients. In California, CBD-containing food will be required by a proposed bill to use hemp cultivated only from licensed industrial hemp growers working under their hemp program.
LeafyQuick Co-Founder Rahul Easwar reiterated that the products sold by their Chicago-based company are tested, even if customers rarely ask about it.
He added that consumers are more curious about flavors available rather than third-party testing, so a statewide regulated test could guarantee a buyer’s safety from harmful products.
Federal Agencies Have Given Warnings to Employees on CBD Use
Several federal agencies handed out a series of notices regarding cannabidiol products to their employees this summer, making CBD advocates wonder if these were due to the government-wide initiative to bring awareness to the said cannabis compound.
Truth comes in the form of one federal organization overseeing every agency’s workplace policies on drug testing. They sent a memo to various government agencies, including the Department of Defense, NASA, and the Coast Guard, asking respective heads to inform employees regarding CBD following hemp and hemp-derived products’ legalization.
The SAMHSA or Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration handed out a notice last July 24, which stated that although the Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived CBD since December of 2018, the THC levels found in such products still aren’t certified by the FDA or Food and Drug Administration.
They also cited that the lack of FDA oversight on hemp-derived products may cause mislabeling and confusion regarding the allowable concentration of THC, which could reflect on drug test results. This, despite the law stating that hemp may contain less than 0.3% THC content.
This lack of regulation from the FDA will cause the penalization of federal employees who obtain positive for THC testing, regardless of whether they only claim to have taken CBD alone. It is stated in the SAMHSA notice, first reported by NBC Washington.
Director for the Division of Workplace Programs at SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Ronald F. Flegel, wrote that a positive marijuana test result does not have any legal, medical explanation under the division’s Drug-Free Workplace Program; unless the person is taking prescription drugs like Sativex, Marinol and any other generic equivalent.
Flegel reminded medical officers and drug program coordinators in every federal agency that the policy for marijuana use still hasn’t changed despite the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Thus, they must make an effort to update employees and applicants that using CBD may yield positive drug test results.
Notices from different agencies
Various federal agencies have already sent out memos regarding CBD policies to their respective employees following the warnings from the SAMHSA.
NASA warned workers about the dangers of CBD that may contain higher THC levels, which may jeopardize their employment. Similarly, the Navy and the Department of Defense barred members from taking CBD despite its federal legality.
The Coast Guard has also insisted on sailors last July that marijuana is still prohibited. Their memo also stated that visiting state dispensaries and using online cannabis sites are not allowed. CBD was not mentioned in the notice.
On the other hand, the Air Force issued a memo before the said SAMHSA notice, saying their Airmen are discouraged from using CBD and CBD-containing products.
SAMHSA’s notice does not cover the government’s legislative branch, however. Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer brought two samples of CBD products at a committee hearing, stating that many members of Congress also take CBD like him.
Lawmakers from both parties are appealing to the FDA to hasten its policy-making on CBD products so that supplements and food containing the substances may be marketed lawfully. They also urge the FDA to issue discretion guidance on the enforcement of laws for established CBD companies.
Missouri Adopts ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Sell’ Policy on Taxes Related to CBD Sales
Tax officials in Missouri are doubting the legality of CBD-containing products being sold in stores, especially since such products are still largely unregulated.
As per documents, Joel Walters who was a former Director for the Department of Revenue, raised a question to Eric Schmitt, Attorney General, for his opinion last March regarding the issuance of sales tax licenses by the department to companies that sell CBD, a popular hemp extract.
Raising a Concern
Walters suggested that CBD products sold by retail may not be lawful under the 2014 law stating that the Missouri Department of Agriculture granted only two companies to legally cultivate hemp and then extract CBD hemp oil from their harvest.
The said law further states that the extract should only be for the use of patients who undergo treatment for intractable epilepsy.
Walters reasoned that CBD oil products sold in a store might not be legal based on the 2014 law, which then makes their department question whether it is lawful to license such products legally.
He further stated at the inquiry that the department still has not made a stance regarding the issue because the information provided to their department was uncertain and inconsistent. He noted how there were differing opinions from several agencies, which prompted him to approach the Attorney General’s office for legal assistance on the said matter.
Schmitt’s office decided to hide the opinion from the public, unlike other legal opinions asked of them, which they release within 90 days.
Missouri’s Sunshine Law
Schmitt and his office were not required to publicize their opinion due to Missouri’s Sunshine Law, as stated by spokesman Chris Nuelle on his interview with Post-Dispatch.
Similarly, the Department of Revenue made no release of their opinion.
While none of the opinions was made public, the current outcome from the exchange between these two offices has given rise to businesses getting a sales tax license. However, they should not say that they are selling CBD oil at their stores.
Anne Marie Moy, the spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, stated last Friday that the agency did not issue any approval on applications for retail sales tax registration from stores selling CBD oil. However, she said that they might have given tax licenses to companies that did not indicate the sale of CBD oil in their application.
Retailers in Missouri have risen in number, which determined Revenue’s stance on the matter. In the St. Louis area alone, there are more than twenty retailers that have opened in the past three years.
More about CBD
CBD or cannabidiol is an active component Cannabis sativa L. or the cannabis plant. It does not cause the high that marijuana is infamous for; it’s rather popular for being a natural remedy with many health benefits, including pain and anxiety.
CBD has become legalized at the federal level because of the 2018 Farm Bill, which exempted hemp from controlled substances as long as it does not have more than 0.3% of THC, the cannabis derivative responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
However, it is still murky when applied to CBD since the said substance can be extracted from both the marijuana and hemp variety.
In Missouri, a new law passed this year has further loosened hemp rules within the state. The next growing season will also be the first time in a century where hemp is grown widely across the state.
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