The CBD industry has gone mainstream, and business is, to put it bluntly, booming. As of this writing, marijuana products are legal under
the laws of 21 U.S. states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Canada. Cannabis is legal for medical use and/or decriminalized in almost all the remaining states.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, derived from the cannabis plant, is legal at the federal level. Federal law permits the sale of CBD products
subject to state regulation, and the logistics of eCommerce fulfillment for CBD oil and other CBD products continue to get easier. Now is a great time to grow a CBD business.
If you run an eCommerce business that sells CBD oil or other CBD products, your prospects are good as the CBD market keeps growing. The market was valued at $9.1 billion in 2021 and is predicted to expand to more than $59 billion by 2030. So selling CBD online will only get more lucrative.
This guide was originally written in 2021 and updated in April of 2023. Regulations governing the sale of CBD products are subject to change; check local laws before shipping CBD across state lines or internationally.
What is CBD?
CBD is present in both marijuana plants and hemp plants. Unlike THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD doesn’t have psychoactive properties. THC is the part of the marijuana plant that causes intoxication.
According to its supporters, CBD has many health benefits, including pain relief, reduced anxiety, and even curing acne. Because there were strict federal limits on the use of marijuana and hemp plants for scientific study until a few years ago, CBD use cases are still coming in. However, early studies have shown that CBD edibles can help combat insomnia and topical CBD oil can reduce inflammation.
The most successful pharmaceutical application of CBD is for the treatment of severe forms of childhood epilepsy. A cannabidiol-based anti-seizure medicine is the first cannabis medication to get FDA approval.
Can you mail CBD oil?
CBD oil has a broad range of applications beyond merely medicinal. Manufacturers produce everything from CBD-infused soda to CBD massage oil to CBD gummy bears.
Here’s what you need to know to ensure your CBD order fulfillment complies with federal law.
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018
Under the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, legal CBD is defined as cannabidiol derived from strains of hemp that have a THC concentration of less than 0.3%. CBD can be extracted from plants with higher THC content, such as cannabis plants. However, products using CBD made from cannabis rather than hemp can only be legally sold in selected places and aren’t legal at the federal level. If you want to ship CBD products across state lines, you’ll need to use only CBD refined from low-THC hemp.
HEMP.—The term ‘‘hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds there- of and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”– Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, Sec. 297A (1), as amended by the Hemp Farming Act of 2018
Which carriers are best for shipping CBD?
While federal law permits the sale of hemp-derived CBD in all 50 states, processing CBD orders from a fulfillment center and shipping them via the major shipping carriers requires strict adherence to federal rules governing CBD. You must comply with carrier requirements and federal rules or risk delayed or destroyed shipments.
For example, you can’t mail a marijuana-derived product from Boulder to Denver, even though cannabis is legal throughout Colorado, because it’s a controlled substance that can’t be sent through the mail or one of the major carriers. You definitely can’t ship that product from Boulder to Boston. Sending CBD via one of the major carriers is highly regulated, and even intrastate shipments are subject to carrier rules.
USPS CBD Mailing
In June 2019, USPS revised its Publication 52 to add guidance on shipping CBD products through the mail. The Post Office requires eCommerce businesses shipping CBD to follow all applicable federal, state, and local laws, including but not limited to the THC caps and the licensed grower requirements. Your business must keep paperwork showing this compliance.
UPS and Shipping CBD
UPS guidelines clearly state that the carrier will not ship any marijuana products or even pick up CBD products from a business that sells marijuana products. However, UPS will accept CBD and other hemp products as long as you comply with federal law. If you send other marijuana products via UPS, the carrier may throw out your shipment.
If you run a business that sells marijuana products and federally sanctioned CBD items, you can still ship your CBD products via UPS. Simply use a third-party logistics company. That way, UPS will pick up from the warehouse rather than your business location.
FedEx CBD restrictions
FedEx recently started to accept shipments of hemp-derived CBD products. However, it won’t ship raw hemp plants or other types of CBD products.
Is it illegal to ship CBD across state lines?
In the past, shipping CBD across state lines was hazardous, especially when shipments traveled through states where it wasn’t legal. For instance, the Canna Law blog reported on a shipment of industrial hemp seized in Idaho in 2019. The shipment originated in Oregon, where cannabis is legal, and it met the federal definition of legal industrial hemp. It was on its way to a Colorado company that makes CBD products but, because Idaho had not legalized cannabis (and still hasn’t), state authorities refused to let the shipment pass.
That incident happened before the USDA issued federal regulations to detail how to implement the law Congress passed in 2018. The new rules, which became official on March 22, 2021, should make the safe passage of 0.3% CBD products in interstate commerce easier.
Can cannabis dispensaries ship CBD?
One type of business that might have a problem shipping edibles, tinctures, or other CBD products at the present time is, ironically, marijuana dispensaries. As noted above, UPS won’t pick up even federally legal CBD products from any business location that sells cannabis products that don’t meet federal guidelines. Dispensaries that want to expand into eCommerce should work with fulfillment centers to make it easier to ship orders.
Tips for eCommerce businesses to ship CBD products
A movement to make cannabis legal at the federal level is gaining steam, but it may take a while before cannabis legalization goes national. Until then, figuring out how to stay on the right side of the laws around shipping CBD can be tricky.
Here are ways to protect your business while participating in the booming market for CBD products:
- Know your suppliers. Make sure your suppliers have all relevant licenses for industrial hemp production. Obtain copies of their certifications and keep them in your files.
- Get your CBD products tested. Periodic lab tests will ensure that the THC content in your CBD products remains within legal limits.
- “If you’re considering selling food, drink, or supplements containing CBD, pay special attention to FDA, FTC, USDA, and DEA rules, regulations, and guidance.
- Understand state regulations. Do your research on the front end to understand where shipping CBD products is permitted.
- Include certification paperwork with large shipments. While the new rules didn’t create paperwork requirements for transporting CBD, including copies of certification paperwork for your products with wholesale or industrial shipments is a good idea. This should not be an issue when you ship an order of CBD products to consumers.
Arm yourself with knowledge about cannabis law as it evolves, and don’t let worries about shipping CBD slow the growth of your business.
Third-party logistics can solve even the toughest eCommerce shipping challenges
The right fulfillment company can boost your online CBD products business, helping you stay in compliance with local regulations while expanding your brand and serving more customers. When you sell a regulated product, you need to work with a warehouse that can store and ship your merchandise in compliance with local and federal laws.
Red Stag Fulfillment has expertise in dealing with hard-to-ship products. If you have questions about shipping CBD products, hazardous materials, or other controlled substances, talk to the pros.
More about how to ship hard-to-ship products:
- Do You Meet Shipping Hazardous Materials Requirements?
- How to Ship a Car
- How to Ship an Electric Bike
- Do You Meet Shipping Hazardous Materials Requirements?
- How to Ship Fragile Items
- How to Ship Plants in the Mail: The Ultimate Guide
Can you ship CBD internationally?
Cannabis is legal in Canada, but it doesn’t allow cross-border shipments, and many countries have even stricter regulations. And, even if a country allows CBD imports, you may run into issues with federal regulations if you ship cannabis products that aren’t legal in all U.S. states. Consult with a customs expert if you plan to export CBD products.
Can you ship CBD to Canada?
No. Cannabis is legal at the federal level in Canada, but it bans cross-border shipments to or from the country. You cannot ship even CBD products that are legal in the U.S. to Canada.
What states can you not ship CBD to?
The 2018 farm bill made hemp-based products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. You can ship CBD products in that category to any state without restrictions. However, if your CBD oil exceeds 0.3% THC content, even if it’s made from hemp, many states restrict its use. If you want to ship to all 50 states, you’ll need to keep tabs on each state’s regulations to ensure you’re in compliance.
Can you ship CBD to other states?
The District of Columbia and 21 states have fully legalized cannabis products, so you don’t have to worry about shipping CBD oil to their residents.
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
How do I legally ship CBD?
It is legal to ship hemp-based CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC, and USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL accept CBD shipments. You and your suppliers must test your products for THC content and be able to provide proof that your CBD items are legal for shipping under federal law.
The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice or professional opinions. This article was originally published in May 2021 and updated in April 2023. If you are considering manufacturing, buying, shipping, storing, or selling CBD products, you should not rely on the above information but instead must make your own judgments regarding the legality of your proposed actions. Red Stag Fulfillment, LLC disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this article. Contact a reputable attorney to obtain legal advice.