Mailing CBD oil across state lines is a service fully expected of an online store mailing CBD across the nation. However, you’d be surprised to find that many shop owners have little to zero knowledge of how to ship CBD oil correctly.
In 2018, a federal bill known as the Farm Bill or Farming Act of 2018 was voted on and subsequently passed. This bill made mailing CBD (and its extracts) legal within the United States. However, some packages of CBD are being seized in transit. Why does CBD still get stopped and seized in the mail then?
What is Hemp CBD?
I won’t go into too much detail on what hemp vs. marijuana is in this article, but here are the basics.
Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis-sativa plants. The only difference in the plants is the way the USA government (or other governments) classifies them based on THC content. Does CBD get you high? No, but THC does and that’s why the government cares (so they say).
Hemp is any cannabis plant that contains 0.03% or less delta-9 THC, whereas marijuana is any plant containing more than 0.03% delta-9 THC. THC content can be easily measured by lab testing, which is usually done by a third-party before the sale.
USA Mail Carrier Guidelines
Now to the part you’ve been waiting for, to find out which USA mail carrier is mailing CBD safely. The answer might surprise you, but the United States Post Office (USPS) has the best CBD guidelines of all mail carriers in 2019. Why is that you might ask? Private carriers have policies allowing them to open mail during transit, while the USPS no longer allows for this, at least not concerning cannabis (find out why below).
USPS CBD Guidelines
USPS knows how to ship CBD oil. They officially opened up their mailing service to hemp CBD just months after the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Throughout 2019, the USPS has also made several positive updates regarding the same.
The first update (March 2019) to the USPS CBD guidelines that shipping CBD oil across state lines using their service is legal. The guidelines did stipulate that such packages must contain a signed document stating that the contents of the package are indeed hemp.
The next update (June 2019) did away with the requirement of any such signed documentation. Instead, the updated policy held that the shipper does not need to include a copy of the COA, but to keep it on file for two years.
Regardless of this new policy, we do recommend voluntarily including these when mailing CBD anyways. There is no quicker method to ensuring the fast-passage of a hemp CBD shipment than to have the documentation right there if a package gets stopped.
UPS Shipping CBD
I have used UPS for many shipments, both personal and for other businesses. However, I highly recommend staying away from using UPS for shipping CBD oil. UPS legal policies for CBD oil don’t leave me feeling confident enough to want to use them. Additionally, for regular retail shipments that typically weigh less than a few pounds, UPS is never the cheapest mailing service.
Here is the UPS position on opening packages, given by spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg in a Wall Street Journal interview in 2014:
“We’re vigilant to look out for what may be contraband… We do not open every package. We have the right to open and inspect if we choose.”
FedEx CBD Oil
FedEx historically had a great reputation because its FedEx Ground service was excellent. Since then, FedEx has implemented several odd legal policies (such as them not allowing shipments of kids hoverboards). Unfortunately, I suggest staying away from mailing CBD using FedEx CBD too until they decide whether “is CBD oil legal” or not.
Here is the FedEx position on opening packages:
“We have the right to open any package that we deem to be suspicious.”
DHL CBD Oil
DHL has not made any public announcements regarding shipping CBD oil. They have, however, held the position that they will not knowingly ship hemp or CBD products. Their lack of transparency on the topic leaves me thinking that DHL CBD oil shipments are a no-go. DHL is probably my least favorite way of how to ship CBD oil.
What’s In The Box?
To no surprise, situations involving the seizure of hemp CBD products typically follow a trend. First, a mail carrier picks up a hint of cannabis scent on the package. They then bring the parcel to a supervisor (as their internal policy says to do) for further review. The supervisor then opens up the box (which you allowed them to do upon signing their agreement) and confirms their suspicions.
Most people can’t decipher the difference between hemp and cannabis other than perhaps scientists in a lab, who happen to have their testing equipment with them (yeah right). Private carriers are also wary of anything that smells like marijuana. This fear includes CBD tincture bottles as sellers can intentionally mislabel anything, so it ships right.
CBD Lost in the Mail
Damages aren’t limited to the value of the lost package when a mailing service seizes a package. In some instances, those involved in the transaction can (incorrectly) face criminal charges. A seized package from shipping CBD oil across state lines could lead to many things.
- The customer has to wait for a replacement (not to mention having to wait to get their legal CBD order)
- The business has to hire a legal team to fight wrongful charges
- Law enforcement may unlawfully raid homes and company locations.
All of this could leave an unnecessary burden on both the shipper and receiver. Issues like these have cropped up in a few recent cases involving lawfully mailed hemp CBD. At the time of writing, No High CBD has not been subject to any such package seizures, which brings me to my next point.
Is Mailing CBD Legal?
The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L.115-334 (“2018 Farm Bill”) recently addressed the mailability of hemp. Among other things, this legislation:
- Defined “hemp,” which includes hemp plants and seeds, and other hemp-derived products;
- Removed hemp from regulation under the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq.;
- Created a process for states to propose their plans to regulate hemp production and distribution; and
- Clarified that interstate commerce of hemp is permitted (2018 Farm Bill, §§ 10113, 10114, 12619).
On June 6th, the USPS has made an official publication announcing its plans for continued implementation of the 2018 hemp bill into the USPS guidelines for mailing CBD. With this bill in place, you can expect to see more carriers jump on board with mailing hemp CBD products. We may even see a day where marijuana itself is legalized federally, by which we would expect a similar publication to arise.
What Happens to Seized CBD?
Local law enforcement will invariably seize your hemp CBD products and contend that it is indeed a marijuana product. These acts of law enforcement cause the shipper or receiver to prove otherwise. In some instances, especially those involving criminal charges, they will send the “marijuana” off to a state lab for further testing. Unfortunately, more often than we’d all like, that state lab might classify the hemp as marijuana. For an explanation of why this might be, check out our article about failing a drug test due to CBD.
Either way, don’t expect to be reunited with your CBD for quite some time, if ever.
What To Do If Charged
Firstly, call a lawyer. Why you’re even spending time reading this page is beyond me! There are some great hemp CBD lawyers out there. While we can’t legally recommend any specific lawyers, several firms stick out at the top of the pack. Here they are in no particular order:
- Rod Kight
- Hoban Law Group
- Horwitz & Armstrong
How to Avoid Being Charged
Use the USPS to handle all of your shipments. As a customer, inquire with the business where you buy CBD online and see which carrier they use. Also, remember that larger packages usually ship cheaper using UPS and FedEx than the USPS, so be sure to keep your order size in mind. The last thing you want is to have your package go missing and have to deal with everything I’ve mentioned above.
You might wonder why the USPS no longer opens packages that smell like cannabis. USPS is surprisingly not government-owned! However, it is an establishment of the executive branch of the United States government (39 U.S.C. § 201), and Presidential appointees and the Postmaster-General control it.
With that said, the USPS needs probable cause to open packages. With hemp being legal after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the smell of hemp is not enough to give a probable cause. The only difference between hemp and marijuana (both the cannabis sativa plant, remember?) is the THC content. Only formal lab testing can determine the amount of THC because it is an odorless substance.
Mailing CBD: Conclusion
If you’re buying hemp CBD products online, make sure that the company that has CBD for sale is shipping CBD oil across state lines using the USPS. Any other carrier is private and has the right to inspect packages mailed through them at their discretion. At least with the USPS, you will have much less to worry about now knowing the way they handle their packages.
Lastly, also make sure that the seller you’re buying from always includes a return address when mailing CBD. If they do not, that could act as further probable cause to open up and inspect a package that smells like cannabis (why else would a return address be missing, right?)