Most Americans probably know it’s a bad idea to bring weed to the airport. Cannabis has been federally illegal since the 1930s, and one of modern air travel’s most prominent features is the layers of federal law-enforcement inspection one must traverse in order to board a plane. Even in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, carrying too much of it through TSA can get you arrested; the agency’s official policy is that travelers can’t even bring medically prescribed cannabis through security.
But what about cannabidiol? CBD, as it’s more commonly known, can be derived from both hemp and marijuana plants, and it has exploded in popularity among American consumers in the past two years as a purported salve for almost any ailment you can think of, including anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation, nausea, epilepsy, and acne. It can be eaten, vaped, or applied to the body in lotion, and even Coca-Cola has shown interest in entering the market. But like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana—CBD exists in a state of conflicting legality, depending on your jurisdiction.
CBD doesn’t get you high, and products containing it can be bought on websites and in storefronts across America, which has lent the chemical a veneer of consumer normalcy that belies its purgatorial legal status. CBD oil gets squirted into lattes and baked into vegan brownies, and it’s added to calming treats for nervous pets. But no matter how legal and mundane it might seem in your local health-food store or bakery, CBD’s quasi-contraband status and nonexistent regulatory standards mean that you should probably leave it out of your carry-on.