Guide for Shipping Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Products
By Michelle Bodian, Catie Wightman
Under the 2014 and 2018 USDA Farm Bills, certain hemp and hemp-derived CBD products can be shipped via USPS, FedEx and UPS— but only if certain conditions are met. Below is summarized guidance from those companies.
USPS Hemp Guidance
In June 2019, the United States Postal Service issued external guidance through its Postal Bulletin that overrode internal guidance issued in March 2019 for the mailing of hemp-derived CBD products. Hemp and hemp-based products, including CBD with the THC concentration of such hemp (or its derivatives) not exceeding a 0.3 percent limit are permitted to be mailed only when the mailers:
Comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws (including, but not limited to, the 2014 Farm Bill and the 2018 Farm Bill) pertaining to hemp production, processing, distribution, and sales; and
Retain records establishing compliance with such laws, including laboratory test results, licenses, or compliance reports, for no less than two years after the date of mailing.
Unlike under the internal guidance, this documentation no longer needs to be presented at the time of mailing, but may be requested either at the time of mailing or on a later date if there is doubt as to the hemp-derived CBD product’s mailability or the intended recipient’s ability to legally receive it.
This guidance was revised in August 2021 and the record retention period was increased from two to three years. The new guidance also prohibits shipments of hemp and hemp-based products from being mailed internationally.
FedEx Hemp Guidance
On January 20, 2020, FedEx updated its terms and conditions to allow the shipment of hemp-derived CBD products that contain no more than 0.3% THC. It continues to ban the shipment of the following:
Marijuana, as defined by U.S. federal law, 21 U.S.C. 802(16), including marijuana intended for recreational or medicinal use and marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD); any product with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, except as set out in 21 CFR 1308.35; and synthetic cannabinoids.
Raw or unrefined hemp plants, or their subparts (including, but not limited to, hemp stalks, hemp leaves, hemp flowers and hemp seeds), except as set out in 21 CFR 1308.35
The FedEx terms and conditions were revised on October 14, 2021, but no changes were made to the hemp policy.
UPS Hemp Guidance
UPS does not permit the shipping of hemp in plant form. It does accept products made from hemp (including CBD) for shipment, only as permitted by all applicable state and federal laws. “It is the responsibility of the Shipper to ensure compliance with all such laws, including the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. §321, et seq.”
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Shipping CBD Oil With USPS: Is CBD Shipping Legal?
The CBD industry is an industry on the rise. With increasing legalization, both local dispensaries and online sellers have been scrambling to grab a portion of the profits. In fact, Forbes anticipates that the CBD market could reach $20 billion by 2024.
Before you jump on the bandwagon of selling CBD online, you need to thoroughly understand the legalities and safety protocol behind selling and shipping CBD.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to handle shipping CBD oil in a way that’s safe and legal for you and your customers.
Note: This article is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.
What is CBD?
You may have heard CBD referred to as “cannabis without THC.” The truth is that CBD (otherwise known as “Cannabidiol”) is simply one active component of Cannabis.
Cannabis as a whole contains many different ingredients; Cannabidiol is one of them. CBD’s growth in popularity is a result of its ability to alleviate an array of symptoms without the psychoactive effects that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) provides.
THC is the ingredient that is still illegal in several countries and in many US states. CBD, on the other hand, simply acts as natural medicine, and has been touted to ease pain, soothe anxiety, prevent epileptic seizures, and more.
Because of this, CBD is more widely accepted and legalized than its sister strain, THC. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still closely monitored and regulated.
Is CBD legal?
The short answer is that, yes, CBD is legal nationwide in the United States. But legality can differ from state to state in different ways. When it comes to selling CBD oil and products, you’ll want to check with your state to see what your state-specific laws are around CBD.
CBD, like alcohol, has certain “limits” on it in terms of how much THC can be found in the oil. For some states, the limit is zero. They only allow CBD oil sourced through industrial hemp, which doesn’t contain any THC.
In other states, you’re allowed to use marijuana-sourced CBD, but that means your legal limit of THC allowed in your product is 0.3%. Any more than that, and the authorities could get involved and you could find yourself in trouble.
How can I know my supplier’s CBD is legal to ship?
Now that you understand selling CBD can be a little complicated, you’re left with an important first step. It’s time to discover if your supplier’s CBD is actually legal to ship.
There are three criteria you’ll want to look for:
1. Their CBD’s THC levels are under 0.3%
Check your supplier’s CBD levels by going to their website, reading their product info, or contacting them directly. It’s important that wherever you get the CBD from doesn’t have THC levels above the legal limit of 0.3%.
For CBD to be considered legal, the THC level has to be under 0.3%. If your supplier uses industrial hemp for their CBD, you’re safe from crossing this boundary. If they don’t, you’ll want to make sure you keep a close eye on making sure your supplier consistently hits this standard.
2. They are licensed
You also want to make sure your supplier is actually licensed to grow and produce CBD. If they’re not licensed, you’ll face the risk of your supplier getting shut down and some legal troubles of our own.
If your supplier gets shut down, it renders you helpless on revenue and order fulfillment. You will either get backed up on orders or be forced to shut your business down, at least temporarily.
If they’re not hitting the legal standards for THC and you were to get audited for any reason, you could be held accountable for selling product that’s in fact illegal, even if you didn’t know it.
If you go through a licensed supplier, this greatly decreases the risk. The government has already approved of the production and facility among other factors, so you can rest assured that the product will meet standard and the supply will be more consistent.
3. They have third-party testing
Your supplier is allowed to test in-house to make sure the CBD:THC ratio is on par. But there are also third-party options your supplier can go to for testing.
While third-party testing isn’t required, it is highly recommended to source from a supplier that goes the extra mile to get it anyway. It often helps to have an outside, unbiased party to make sure your product is meeting quality standards.
Can you mail CBD oil?
Mailing CBD oil is a complicated issue. While it is legal, there are regulations by the state on what type of CBD oil you can sell. And shippers are releasing their own regulations for how CBD travels through their systems.
You can mail CBD oil if it is legal, sent to the places that allow it, and conforms to the regulations of the following shipping carriers:
USPS is one of the best options you can go through for shipping CBD.
To mail CBD through the appropriate USPS mail type or service, you need to have a signed self-certification statement verifying that you are selling legal CBD. This is the statement:
“I certify that all information contained in this letter and supporting documents are accurate, truthful, and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information or omits information relating to this certification may be subject to criminal and/or civil penalties, including fines and imprisonment.”
You also need to verify that your CBD supplier uses industrial hemp. They need to possess a license from the Department of Agriculture of the state from which you are shipping. Finally, you’ll want to verify that the CBD you sell is made from industrial hemp with a THC concentration of no more than 0.3%.
If you can do these things, USPS will have no issue shipping your orders for you.
The criteria for shipping CBD through UPS is a little different.
First, you must be able to state where your raw materials (hemp plants or cannabis plants) grew. You’ll have to answer for how they were processed in the manufacturing of the end-product. Lastly, you’ll need to verify who shipped the product to the supplier and how that supplier got it to the customer after the fact.
DHL eCommerce Solutions allows the shipment through its network of hemp, and hemp-based products, including CBD, as long as the shipper complies with all of the following:
- The shipment contains hemp or hemp based products that contain 0.3% or less of THC on a dry
- The shipper complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
- The shipper retains records establishing compliance with such laws, including laboratory test
results, licenses, or compliance reports.
- Packaging does not contain any branding, or labeling that indicates the content of the item.
Compliance with these restrictions is the shipper’s responsibility. A shipper is not required to present documentation at the time of shipping, but such documentation, including certificates, or any other required document, may be requested at any time. DHL eCommerce Solutions reserves the right to hold shipments that are not compliant with law, or any other DHL eCommerce Solutions policy.
Generally speaking, FedEx has kept their language around CBD pretty vague, and there is a long list of products in its 2019 Service Guide that it disallows, which included hemp plants, hemp leaves, oil, seed oil, and CBD derived from hemp.
However, ShipBob had to fill out an application and was approved by FedEx to ship CBD products with under 0.3% THC in them.
3 considerations when shipping CBD
Now that you have the basics down for shipping CBD legally, there are some other things to consider to make sure you’re dotting your Is and crossing your Ts.
1. Have a lawyer run through your statements
Before you send your statements to UPS and USPS, have a lawyer run through them to make sure they’re not missing anything important or have incorrect verbiage. You don’t want to waste any time with faulty legal documents that could land you in trouble or delay retail fulfillment.
2. Double check your international shipping
If you’re going to have CBD shipped internationally, make sure you fully understand where you’re allowed to ship CBD products to legally. For example, it’s illegal to ship CBD to Russia, China, and a handful of European countries where it’s not legal to consume CBD yet.
Even if CBD is legal in a certain country, you may have trouble shipping items to that country. If you are located in the US, for example, it is a best practice to ship within the states before expanding anywhere else.
As CBD is a newer product that’s gained a lot of traction really quickly, there is still a lot of ambiguity across countries. Consult your lawyer before you ship anywhere internationally.
3. Stay up-to-date on CBD regulations
As your business grows, it’s going to be one of your top responsibilities to stay on top of CBD regulations. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, so will the rules around the products — whether that’s the shipping carriers’ rules, or state and federal laws.
Two places you can keep up-to-date on ongoing CBD trends are Hemp Industry Daily and Infinite CBD.
Let ShipBob handle your CBD fulfillment
Now that you know the legal concerns to ship CBD, you need to decide how you will actually fulfill orders. You can try going at it alone, or you can let ShipBob handle your ecommerce fulfillment for you.
“We were managing shipping and logistics ourselves via USPS, but we didn’t understand just how massive and difficult fulfillment was, which prevents us from focusing on our core products. Now that we’re working with ShipBob, we can easily ship to all 50 US states with ease.”
Andrew Hardy, COO of Nature’s Ultra
As a third-party logistics (3PL) company, ShipBob stores inventory, packs each order, and ships it out for you. We negotiate rates with carriers and pass those savings along to you. ShipBob has fulfillment centers all over the United States and can ship CBD products to every single US state.
“Our fulfillment is on autopilot. ShipBob saves us so much effort, and the opportunity cost savings has been substantial. Today, our health and wellness brand sells three CBD products in the United States.”
Yannick Crespo, Co-Founder & President of Pot d’Huile
The CBD industry is exploding, and any well-built business stands a chance at having a long, prosperous future. But in order to make that happen, it’s important that you have a streamlined system for CBD fulfillment that is mindful of the laws and regulations around shipping and mailing CBD oil.
To learn more about how ShipBob can do this for your CBD company, request a pricing quote below.