Cannabis has gone mainstream and business is, to put it bluntly, booming. As of this writing, marijuana products are fully legal in 10 US states and Canada. Marijuana is completely illegal in only 10 US states. Cannabidiol or CBD is now legal at the federal level. CBD products can be grown and sold in the vast majority of US states. The logistics of shipping CBD oil and other CBD products shouldn’t hold you back from starting or growing a business.
Shipping CBD allows access to these products for people 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. For these reasons, as of this writing, Red Stag Fulfillment doesn’t accept CBD products, but we are 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. There were strict federal limits on the use of marijuana and hemp plants for scientific study until a few years ago. Because of this, the evidence for uses of CBD is still coming in. However, early studies have shown that it can help combat insomnia and, in a topical ointment, relieve pain. CBD is also used to treat anxiety and inflammation.
To date, 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.
What CBD Products Are Legal to Ship Under Federal Law?
CBD oil has a broad range of applications beyond the 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 shipments comply 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, 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 that have legalized marijuana, you can sell a wide variety of CBD products in brick-and-mortar retail. Plus, 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, the rules change. You can’t mail a marijuana-derived product from Boulder to Denver, even though it’s legal in Colorado. You definitely can’t mail that product from Boulder to Berkeley. Shipping CBD via one of the major carriers is highly regulated. Even intrastate shipments are subject to carrier rules.
In June 2019, the US Postal Service issued a revision to its Publication 52. This provides guidance on shipping CBD products through the mail. The Post Office noted that it’s guidelines will be updated again in the future. When the federal regulations to implement the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 are in place, USPS will update its 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
If you’re shipping CBD products from a cannabis dispensary, UPS won’t pick up from you. UPS guidelines are firm on the fact that the carrier will not ship any marijuana products. The delivery service won’t even make pickups at a marijuana business. However, shipping CBD and other hemp products through UPS is allowed, as long as you comply with federal law.
You can still ship CBD products via UPS if your cannabis business also makes products that contain THC. 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 specifically includes CBD on its list of prohibited items. However, it makes two exceptions. Farm feed that contains cannabis plant materials and synthetic cannabinoids are acceptable. It won’t be surprising if FedEx begins shipping CBD products in the near future, though. Look for updates as the law around shipping CBD continues to evolve.
Challenges of Shipping CBD Across State Lines
Just because the 2018 Farm Bill lifted some restrictions on shipping CBD doesn’t mean that CBD eCommerce is a breeze. First of all, the Farm Bill requires that all CBD be derived from hemp grown by licensed growers. If your CBD doesn’t come from hemp cultivated by a licensed grower, then federal law still considers that CBD a narcotic, which obviously isn’t something you want to mess with.
Additionally, in the Farm Bill, our federal government included a specific provision allowing state and local governments to regulate CBD as they see fit. Accordingly, CBD companies must still pay very close attention to state and local laws. For nationwide CBD eCommerce retailers, this can be a significant lift.
For example, the Canna Law blog reported on a shipment of industrial hemp that was seized in Idaho. The shipment originated in Oregon, where cannabis is legal. The hemp met the federal definition of legal industrial hemp. It was on its way to a Colorado company that makes CBD products.
The shipment met the legal requirements of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. However, all forms of cannabis, including CBD, are still illegal under Idaho state law. The same is true in Nebraska and South Dakota. Other states like Georgia and Iowa (to name a couple) continue to have some restrictions surrounding CBD, like requiring buyers to have a prescription.
So, for now, maintaining compliance with nationwide CBD shipments can be tricky. Plus, CBD regulation is still in its infancy, with federal, state, and local authorities still trying to figure out how best to approach CBD. As the CBD market continues to grow, hopefully all regulators can get on the same page and simplify interstate shipping.
Tips for ECommerce Businesses to Ship CBD Products
Both houses of Congress have recently introduced bills to federally legalize marijuana. It may take a while before cannabis legalization goes national, however. Until then, it can be tricky to figure out how to stay on the right side of the laws around shipping CBD. There are some things you can do to protect your business while shipping CBD.
- Know your suppliers: Make sure your suppliers have all relevant licenses for industrial hemp production. Get copies of their certification and keep it in your files.
- Get your CBD products tested: Get periodic lab tests to make sure the THC level in your CBD products are within the 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.
Arm yourself with knowledge about cannabis law as it evolves. Don’t let worries about shipping CBD slow the growth of your business.
The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only, and 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.