Cannabis has gone mainstream, and business is, to put it bluntly, booming. As of this writing, marijuana products are fully legal in 16 U.S. states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Canada. Cannabis is legal for medical use and/or decriminalized in another 24 states. Marijuana remains illegal in only six U.S. states.
Cannabidiol or CBD, which is derived from the cannabis plant, is legal at the federal level. CBD products that comply with federal regulations can be sold in the vast majority of U.S. states. 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.
Shipping CBD lets you reach consumers who live in states where CBD products are hard to find in stores. If you run an eCommerce business that sells CBD oil or other CBD products, your growth prospects are good. The industry is predicted to hit $22 billion in sales by 2022.
However, a few states continue to prohibit CBD sales, and a patchwork of other regulations and carrier restrictions across the US can make shipping CBD a challenge. Red Stag Fulfillment is constantly monitoring the legal landscape and always evaluating whether to serve this growing and exciting industry. Here is a summary of what we’ve learned so far.
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 a long list of health benefits, including pain relief, reduced anxiety, and even curing acne. However, because there were strict federal limits on the use of marijuana and hemp plants for scientific study until a few years ago, the evidence for uses of CBD is still coming in. However, early studies have shown that it can help combat insomnia and reduce inflammation in a topical ointment.
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 are producing everything from CBD-infused soda to CBD massage oil to CBD gummy bears.
Here’s what you need to know to make sure that 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 less than 0.3% THC.
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
CBD can be extracted from plants that contain higher levels of THC. However, products using CBD made from marijuana rather than hemp can only be legally sold in some places. In states where medical or recreational cannabis is legal, CBD products are less regulated. If you are interested in shipping CBD products across state lines, you’ll need to use only CBD refined from low-THC hemp.
One exception to the rule against shipping cannabis that contains significant levels of THC is farm feed made from the stalks or other parts of the plant. So, federal law allows cows to get high, just not humans.
Which Carriers Are Best for Shipping CBD?
In the states where marijuana is legal, you can sell a wide variety of CBD products in brick-and-mortar retail settings and cannabis delivery businesses deliver both CBD and THC products locally. This includes products that contain THC as well as CBD. However, if you are selling CBD online and shipping via carriers, you need to comply with carrier requirements and federal rules. You can’t mail a marijuana-derived product from Boulder to Denver, even though cannabis is legal throughout Colorado. 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 issued a revision to its Publication 52 to provide guidance on shipping CBD products through the mail. Federal regulations to implement the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 were released in March 2021, so look for a possible update to USPS policies to incorporate the federal rules.
For now, the USPS 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. Contrary to earlier guidance, you don’t have to include a statement of compliance inside each package you ship.
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 does ship CBD and other hemp products, as long as you comply with federal law. If you send any other marijuana products via UPS, the carrier may throw out your shipment.
If you run a business that sells marijuana products as well as 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 is the only major carrier that still won’t ship CBD products and includes CBD on its list of prohibited items. However, it makes two exceptions: farm feed that contains cannabis plant materials and synthetic cannabinoids.
Rules for Shipping CBD Across State Lines
In the past, shipping CBD across state lines, especially when shipments traveled through states where it’s not legal, was hazardous. The Canna Law blog reported on a shipment of industrial hemp that was seized in Idaho in 2019. The shipment originated in Oregon, where cannabis is legal, it met the federal definition of legal industrial hemp, and was on its way to a Colorado company that makes CBD products. 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.
Tips for ECommerce Businesses to Ship CBD Products
Lawmakers have repeatedly introduced bills to make cannabis legal at the federal level. However, it may take a while before cannabis legalization goes national. Until then, it can be tricky to figure out how to stay on the right side of the laws around shipping CBD.
Here are some things you can do 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 level in your CBD products is within legal limits.
- If you’re considering selling food, drink, or supplements containing CBD, pay special attention to the FDA’s rules and regulations.
- Understand state regulations. Do your research on the front end to understand where it is permissible to ship your particular CBD products.
- Include certification paperwork with large shipments. While the new rules didn’t create paperwork requirements for transporting CBD, it’s a good idea to include copies of certification paperwork for your products with wholesale or industrial shipments. 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. Don’t let worries about shipping CBD slow the growth of your business.
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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. 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.