The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) wants to help businesses that mail hemp and CBD vaporizers prepare for a forthcoming rule change that could impact the mailability of their products.
In a notice published in the Federal Register on Monday, the agency discussed how congressional legislation passed last year will generally restrict the ability of companies to utilize its services to mail vapes. But depending on the outcome of rulemaking, there may be exemptions for certain types of devices.
USPS said it’s still in the process of finalizing its rule and deciding whether to extend an exception to certain vaping products including those that contain legal hemp-derived CBD. However, because the mailing restriction will take effect immediately after the regulations are finalized, the agency is providing guidance ahead of time on how to prepare to submit an application for an exemption if it in fact chooses to offer one.
The Postal Service also reiterated in the new notice that mailing marijuana products remains prohibited because, unlike hemp and its derivatives, it is still a federally controlled substance subject to its own statutory restrictions.
While the Federal Register filing doesn’t touch on any regulations for vaporizer devices that are intended for marijuana use but don’t actually contain any controlled substances, industry stakeholders have expressed concerns about language of the congressional law that extends the mailing ban to “any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device” (with italicized emphasis added).
By preventing vape manufacturers and retailers from utilizing USPS to ship their goods, the bill will effectively force them to use more expensive private courier services.
When it comes potential exemptions for hemp and CBD products, the traditional application process involves submitting documentation showing that a given mailer is legally operating. USPS also said that a separate spreadsheet should be prepared that shows whether the products a company is shipping contain CBD or THC.
For products with THC, the quantity and concentration should be noted. And for CBD products containing no more than 0.3 percent THC, the business should state “whether the CBD derives from hemp.”
“For hemp-based products containing CBD with a THC concentration not exceeding 0.3 percent, mailers must retain, and prepare to make available upon request, records establishing compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws pertaining to hemp production, processing, distribution, and sales, including the Agricultural Act of 2014 and the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018,” USPS said. “Such records may include laboratory test results, licenses, and compliance reports.”
“All other substances that contain THC are Schedule I controlled substances for purposes of federal law…and are therefore nonmailable in most instances,” it continues. “This federal mailing prohibition is unaffected by whether the mailing of THC-containing substances violates state or local law and by the restriction of Department of Justice appropriations relating to medical marijuana.”
That last line is in reference to an appropriations amendment that has been annually renewed to prevent the Department of Justice from using its funds to interfere in state-legal medical cannabis programs. But its restrictions only apply to the Justice Department and do not impact Postal Service operations in any way.
Also in the new notice, USPS stipulated that it “is unlawful to mail advertisements for, or to advertise the mailing of, federally controlled substances or drug paraphernalia”—a policy that the agency has used in the past to justify refusing to mail newspapers that contain advertisements for state-legal cannabis businesses.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Kevin Payravi.