Travelling With CBD In The UK
CBD has entered our lives and millions of people now take it for relaxation or to alleviate symptoms of inflammation, stress, anxiety, and pain.
As a result, travelling with CBD in the UK or abroad is something that is becoming increasingly frequent. People take planes, drive their cars, and travel by train. Naturally, they want to carry their CBD with them.
However, questions still abound about the legal status of travelling with CBD. Drivers are wondering about the regulations regarding driving while consuming CBD. And holiday takers want to know their CBD will not be impounded at their destination. Even worse, do they risk getting arrested at the airport?
Here is a guide about the regulations regarding our travels with CBD in our suitcases.
CBD and THC
CBD or Cannabidiol is particularly popular because it’s non-intoxicating, non-addictive, and well-tolerated by the human body. It does not produce a ‘high’ nor is it hallucinogenic.
However, CBD is but one of hundreds of cannabinoids found in hemp. Alongside CBD, hemp also includes THC, CBC, CBG, CBDA and CBN and plenty of other compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids. Hemp contains more than 400 natural compounds of which CBD is only one.
CBD is legally sold in the UK as a food supplement and does not require any prescription. Online and physical shops are selling CBD products including gummies, edibles, chocolates, oils, tinctures, vapes, and topical creams.
As a medication, patients can obtain medical CBD with a doctor’s prescription—although very few such prescriptions have been issued.
THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the other famous cannabinoid. It is well-known for its intoxicating and psychedelic feature and the ‘high’ it gives to users. THC is an illegal substance under UK law and cannot be used as it has been classified as a Class B drug.
All CBD products that are legally sold in the UK are required to contain less than 0.2% of THC, which means they may only have traces of THC.
Flying with CBD
If you want to take your CBD to your holiday or business trip abroad, you need to be careful and enquire about the laws pertaining to CBD at your destination.
You should ask your airline whether CBD is permitted at your destination. Check also with your destination airport authority to make sure your CBD product will not be confiscated.
Most European countries have similar CBD laws as the UK. Travelling to France, Greece, Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, or Ireland is easy as these countries have identical laws as the UK.
CBD is legal in the United States, across all 50 states. The THC threshold is 0.3%. However, before travelling with CBD to the US, it’s good to check both federal and the state laws where you will be travelling. Airport authorities are under federal law but states follow their own laws as well.
Some states have particular laws that apply to CBD consumption and you should be aware and follow both.
Africa, the Middle East, Asia
Most of the countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia do not allow the consumption of CBD. This means that travelling there with CBD in your suitcase could cause you trouble with the authorities. Even Dubai, which is often considered a more lenient and easy-going country, prohibits all cannabis products—including CBD.
China and Russia
In both these countries, CBD consumption is illegal. The same restrictions apply as when travelling to Africa or the Middle East.
Check the THC threshold in your destination country
You should be careful about THC content: the limit in the UK is 0.2% but other countries may have a different threshold. For instance, the THC limit in Italy is 0.6% but only 0.2% in Greece.
Check the THC threshold in each country you plan to visit. If it’s lower than in the UK, authorities may confiscate your CBD product as its THC content would be over the legal limit. In Sweden, all legal CBD products need to contain 0% of THC: Swedish authorities consider all CBD products with traces of THC illegal.
What if you have a changeover in a third country?
If you have a changeover between the UK and your country of destination, you need to check about the laws of this country as well, even if you are staying there for a few hours. Technically speaking, you will be subject to the local laws for the few hours you will be spending at the airport and you need to comply with any CBD restrictions.
How can I make my travels with CBD safer and easier?
Although CBD is technically legal, some authorities can be uneasy about passengers carrying CBD with them. In order to be fully prepared, it’s good to follow some useful advice.
Your CBD product should be clearly labelled as a food supplement. It’s best if your CBD container is unopened and full and placed in a clear plastic bag. The reason many airlines ask for the bottle to be unopened is that there is no risk of substituting the content with a more potent and THC-rich equivalent. The THC content should be clearly stated on the bottle.
A bit of constant advice for CBD is to purchase from reputable, dependable and trustworthy CBD producers who display their Certificate of Analysis (CoA). If travelling with CBD, have a copy of the CoA that shows the content of THC. It will be easy to prove to the local authorities that your CBD product is within the law.
If you want to place your CBD in your carry-on, you should follow the airline rules about the transportation of liquids on-board. Your CBD oil should contain less than 100 ml in total liquid.
Bringing CBD from abroad
If you have bought a CBD product abroad and are bringing it to the UK, it needs to follow the UK regulations to enter the country and contain less than 0.2% of THC. Again, it is best to keep your receipt and all relevant documentation regarding the CBD product in case you have to prove your case to the airport authorities.
What if I have a CBD prescription?
If you have been prescribed CBD as a medicine, you should carry with you the prescription as well as any other medical documentation verifying your condition. However, there’s no guarantee that the authorities abroad will let you keep it.
CBD for fear of travelling by plane
Some people fear travelling by plane and feel uneasy and stressed during the flight.
Aeroplane passengers could benefit from taking a little bit of CBD before the flying to relax and manage their anxiety. CBD may be effective in helping with flight anxiety and as it is non-intoxicating, it should not jeopardize your travels.
Likewise, CBD could assist with jetlag and sleep deprivation. CBD appears to be helpful against insomnia and may help regulate our sleep patterns, especially REM. Taking CBD may thus help our body recover from jetlag.
Flying with pets
If you are travelling with pets on the plane, they will probably not enjoy the experience. Most pets are transported in the cargo hold and find the whole experience stressful. The surroundings are strange to them, the noise is quite substantial and they are not with their loved ones.
There are indications that CBD may help alleviate stress in pets. In this case, CBD may make the plane trip a little bit less taxing on our four-legged friends.
What if my CBD is confiscated?
CBD consumption is a relatively novel habit. Even in European and American countries, authorities can be uncomfortable with people consuming CBD.
If your CBD product is confiscated by an officer, it is best not to argue. Even if the law is on your side, there can be technicalities which you could be unaware of. As CBD consumption expands and more research is done on CBD and its health potential, people and authorities will become more knowledgeable about CBD and more understanding about its transport.
Travelling with CBD on a train or by car
Since CBD is legal in the UK, travelling with CBD in the UK is easy. People can safely transport their CBD products and oils in their car or by train. If for any reason they are stopped and searched, they shouldn’t have a problem as long as their CBD product has a THC limit of less than 0.2%.
Driving and CBD
There is an ongoing conversation about driving and CBD consumption. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and non-hallucinogenic. Therefore, it is not illegal to drive after consuming CBD.
The law states that “it’s illegal to drive if either you’re unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs or you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they have not affected your driving).”
However, it is up to each and every driver to decide whether they are impaired or unfit to drive after taking CBD.
CBD’s side effects can include drowsiness and sleepiness, which are highly dangerous when driving as they impair our reaction times, reflexes, decision-making process, and speed. This makes it potentially dangerous for the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and other cars.
Drivers should be mindful about how their body reacts to CBD and they should make their personal and individual assessment regarding their ability to drive. If they feel they are not alert or have low reaction times, it is always best to leave the wheel to someone else or take a taxi, the bus, or the train.
What if I am stopped while driving?
If you are driving erratically, you could be stopped. A police officer might ask you to step outside your car and give you a field impairment test, like asking you to walk in a straight line. The officer will attempt to assess whether you are fit to drive and are no danger to yourself or others.
What if I have to be drug-tested during a routine test when driving?
When driving, and if there is probable cause like erratic driving, you may be asked to undergo a roadside drug screening test. This, however, is a test scanning for THC and cocaine and is done with saliva. If it turns up positive, you will be asked to follow the police officers to the police station for a full blood test, screening for more drugs.
Will CBD show on a drug test?
To be legal in the UK, CBD must have under 0.2% of THC. So, there may be traces of THC in your CBD, especially if you consume full-spectrum CBD products. Full-spectrum CBD products contain CBD and all the other cannabinoids, including THC (always up to the level of 0.2%), as well as flavonoids and terpenes.
Broad-spectrum CBD is identical to full-spectrum CBD but without any trace of THC. If you have been consuming broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate, which is 100% CBD, the drug test will come negative. The current UK law states that the legal limit of THC per litre of blood is 2 micrograms (µg).
To be sure about the purity and cleanliness of the CBD product you consume, always buy from reputable and trustworthy brands that display their CoA and clearly state the content of THC.
This is important, as there have been many cases of mislabelling in CBD products. Likewise, random research has shown that some CBD products contain more THC than is stated on the label while products that claimed they contained no THC had detectable traces of THC when analysed.
Since CBD is sold as a food supplement, it is an unregulated market and CBD manufacturers and producers rely on themselves to monitor the quality and purity of their products.
How long does THC show on blood drug tests?
THC can be detectable in your blood for up to 24 hours after ingestion. With frequent consumption of full-spectrum CBD, THC could build up in your blood and be detectable for up to three days. When it comes to regular use, THC could stay in your blood for up to a week.
If you buy trustworthy and quality CBD products, these will contain less than 0.2% of THC. Such low concentrations of THC are unlikely to show up on a drug test as they will be within the legal range. All drug tests have a cut-off limit.
Current drug tests do not screen for CBD. Consumption of pure CBD should not show up on drug tests. However, if for any reason, you are feeling unfit or impaired to drive after taking CBD, you should not be driving, even if you are legally allowed to.
Will CBD make me sleepy?
Many people are concerned about driving when taking CBD as they fear CBD will make them sleepy. Tiredness and sleepiness impair our reflexes and our reaction times when driving and can lead to accidents and injury.
Research is showing that CBD may support our sleep quality. Specifically, CBD may help with better and deeper REM sleep. When people sleep better at night, they feel more alert and energized during the day. This could also reduce their daytime sleepiness.
However, some people experience sleepiness after taking CBD. In this case, it’s obvious they should not drive.
The fact that CBD may be able to both energize us and subdue us has made researchers theorize that CBD may be biphasic: it has one effect at a low dose and its opposite at a high one. More research may confirm this possibility in the near future.
Is there research around CBD and driving?
Recent research showed that CBD had no impact on driving ability. The trial was done on 26 people. Those taking CBD and a placebo displayed similar driving behaviours while those on CBD with THC had mild impairment.
Interestingly, the latter group displayed driving impairment 40 minutes after consuming the CBD/THC combination but not after 4 hours when they were asked to drive again.
More research using a larger test group may help clarify the results.
Taking CBD before your driving test
If you are about to take your driving test, taking CBD the previous night may help you manage your anxiety and stress. With a good night’s sleep, the impending driving test may appear less daunting. As research suggests that CBD may help with anxiety, it may even help you make fewer mistakes during your test.
Travelling with CBD in the UK
CBD consumption is a relatively novel habit—but one with explosive growth and potential. As people consume CBD and also want to travel, new laws and regulations will inevitably emerge.
Currently, people travelling from the UK towards EU countries and the United States should not face any trouble as long as they abide by the local laws. Specifically, they need to ensure that their CBD product contains less than the THC threshold required by the law of each country. It is always good to check with your destination authorities before flying there, as well as the airport authorities.
Travelling to African, Asian, or other countries with CBD in your luggage is more problematic as most of these countries still consider CBD as an illegal substance.
CBD is not considered an illegal substance under UK law and driving while taking CBD is allowed. However, it is up to the driver to assess their driving ability. If they feel drowsy, dizzy or sleepy after taking CBD, then they should not drive. Being aware of our fitness to drive is crucial, irrespective of CBD consumption.
While travelling with CBD in the UK is perfectly legal, if a driver is stopped for probably cause by the police, they may be asked to do a field impairment test or a drug test. The aim is to ascertain the driver’s ability to drive and their alertness.
A drug test will not screen for CBD but it will screen for THC. All CBD products sold in the UK have to contain less than 0.2% of THC. This is a cut-off threshold that is accepted by drug tests. However, some CBD manufacturers do not run proper tests on their products. Studies have found that some CBD products contain more than the 0.2% of THC stated on the label. In these cases, THC might show up in a drug test.
CBD consumers should always buy from reputable, quality CBD producers who run regular tests on their products and publically share the results of these tests. This is the best way to be sure of the quality, purity, and potency of the CBD you are consuming.