The U.S. State Department is warning international holiday travelers that while hemp is legal in the U.S., it can still land you in trouble if you take it to certain places abroad.
Hemp was legalized last year in December 2018 under the Farm Act. It removed hemp from the list of controlled substances making it legal. Since then hemp and its derived products such as cannabidiol, or CBD, have gained popularity.
CBD is a non-psychoactive substance found in hemp plants. It has anti-inflammatory properties and thus, many people use CBD for treating several ailments.
Some people tout CBD for its medicinal benefits such as alleviating the symptoms of life-threatening diseases like cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Tourette. CBD is also widely used for everyday medical problems, such as chronic pain, stress, insomnia, depression, muscle spasm, injury, inflammation, etc.
While there is research that supports CBD as a potent drug that can help reduce symptoms of some diseases, there is not much information that backs up all its medicinal claims. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only legalized one cannabis-based medicine till now – Epidiolex. It is an oral solution used to reduce seizures in two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, and Lennox Gastaut syndrome.
The FDA has not yet created a regulatory framework for CBD products which outlines the guidelines to follow for CBD production, marketing and sales in edible products. The agency recently released a Consumer Update detailing the updated safety guidelines for CBD products.
The FDA said that it could not conclude that CBD is safe for human or animal consumption.
The agency also issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally marketing CBD products and mislabeling the contents of the products claiming higher concentrations of CBD.
On the other hand, the State Department recently tweeted on Thursday saying “Make sure your gift is not la la la fail”. They further advised travelers to not bring gifts such as drones, CBD oils, and firearms that can land them in trouble in foreign countries. Research what’s allowed and what’s not before you travel.
While many countries have started reform efforts to regulate and legalize cannabis products like Tobago, Trinidad, and Mexico, there are many that still consider it illegal and continue to prohibit cannabis and its extracts.
Domestically, however, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had announced in May that passengers are permitted to carry CBD derived from hemp on flights. TSA also said that while it doesn’t specifically allocate resources to search for illicit drugs, however, if discovered, its agents matters to the local law enforcement.
Confusion around CBD products
There’s a lot of confusion about the legality and safety of CBD products. According to the federal government, hemp-derived CBD products with a maximum concentration of 0.3% THC per dry weight is legal. THC is the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana plants that is responsible for causing hallucinations and producing a euphoria-like feeling in the user when they smoke weed or hemp.
Now since THC is a psychoactive substance and can impact the mental health of users, the government decided to keep a certain specific limit to how much amount can you add in CBD based products. Despite this, several companies are producing high-THC level products that are illicit and may end up in a positive drug test.
These illicit products are easily available at street shops and mimic those that are legal and legit. Consumers are often unaware of the legit products and instead, end up buying illegal CBD products. One of the major reasons why consumers rely on illicit products is that they’re available at relatively cheaper costs than legal products.
In addition to this, the FDA hasn’t yet rolled out the regulatory guidelines for edible CBD products which makes it more difficult for consumers to buy CBD products. Consumers are recommended to invest only in legit CBD products and do business with authorized and legal stores.
On a similar note, the U.S Postal Service has also released a post-Farm-Bill update in June, mentioning that hemp-derived products, including CBD, are now legally mailable within the country.