Do you realize how important the postal system is in your daily life? All of those Amazon packages, bills, and postcards sent to us would be lost without the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and its workers. This International Postal Workers Day, we are grateful for another privilege granted by the postal system: the ability to ship CBDMEDIC™ products in the mail.
Let’s take a look at the laws and regulations for mailing CBD and how it pertains to our products.
A Little History
Since 1990, forms of cannabis has been classified as Schedule I drugs and had been illegal to grow, distribute, and use in the United States. But things changed drastically. The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill (which removed Cannabis sativa L. from the Controlled Substances Act list), has prompted The USPS to reconsider the legality of mailing products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived ingredients. However, cannabis production remains illegal if grown without a USDA license issued under a USDA plan or in a state that does not have a USDA approved cannabis production plan.
The 2018 Farm Bill expands on the previous Farm Bill of 2014 by allowing state agriculture departments and institutions of higher education to grow cannabis under a research pilot program as long as the research center’s state law grants permission. Because of this new law, many different pilot programs were established across the country to study the various uses of cannabis. The success of these programs gave the agricultural community the leverage it needed to push for change.
What you need to know about mailing CBD
On June 6, 2019, the U.S. Postal Service confirmed an expansion of the mailing regulations related to cannabis and cannabis-derived products (Publication 52, part 212). This change came about due to numerous requests for information about mailing guidelines from individuals and commercial entities. Upon review, the USPS determined that under specific circumstances, cannabis and cannabis-based products, including CBD, can be sent through the USPS without any violation of federal law. These regulations include the following:
Conditions of Expansion
The requirements stated by these new regulations emphasize that all cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including CBD, must contain less than a 0.3 percent (dry weight) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration.
Quality CBD products are typically classified as either full-spectrum or isolates. The two are different in that cannabis-derived isolates contain the CBD cannabinoid only, and full-spectrum products contain other cannabinoids (e.g., CBG and CBN) as well as terpenes and other active compounds. Either one of these forms of cannabis-derived products can now be shipped through USPS.
The FDA currently does not regulate any cannabis or cannabis-derived products, nor has this government agency conducted any research to determine the effects or benefits of help-derived products.
Because of this, the FDA had not made claims to support or deny the health benefits related to the use of CBD products. It is critical to not over-state the benefits or state false claims when labeling products because it has the potential to cause consumers to neglect seeking medical attention by relying solely on the product. All products must also have correct information about the contents of the product, including the amount of CBD it contains.
In addition to proper/accurate labeling, it is the responsibility of the producers and distributors of CBD product to retain records that establish compliance with all of the current regulations established within the 2018 Farm Bill, State regulations, and the recent USPS regulations. These should include (at minimum) laboratory test results, licenses, or compliance reports, for no less than two years after the date of each mailing.
Under the new USPS regulations, it is the responsibility of the mailer to research and follow the regulations set by their own state, along with the states to which their products will be shipped.
All companies mailing cannabis-derived products are responsible for their own compliance with every law and regulation governing mailability and retain documentation. This demonstrates their agreement with all federal and state laws.
Companies using the USPS to ship cannabis-derived products are not required to present this documentation at the time of any mailing. However, they may be asked to present this documentation either at the time of mailing or on a later date. This is particularly important if there are questions about the item’s mailability or the addressee’s ability to legally receive it.
Company representatives and individuals need to be aware of the consequences of abusing the laws established under the Farm Bill of 2018, the USPS regulations, as well as those that have been established by each state. Even though CBD products can be legally sold and mailed to all 50 states, if you are caught breaking the new USPS regulations (by trying to mail products with a higher concentration of THC than 0.3%), each act is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
What does the future look like?
Recently the FDA held a public hearing to gain more scientific information about products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds. At this hearing, over 100 speakers participated, and more than 1,000 people registered to join the discussion. The testimony was presented by representatives of academia, agriculture, public safety, and retail, as well as consumers, patients, and healthcare advocates and professionals.
There was a general consensus among those that presented information and attended the hearing, that the FDA should have some type of regulation over the CBD industry, but there was no clear answer to the extent. Many of the speakers conveyed their personal opinion (or that of a group) as to how the FDA should regulate this industry. Some of these speakers demanded strict oversight, while others lobbied for looser regulation.
To date, most of the safety concerns related to the use of CBD revolve around the lack of published scientific data. The FDA has stated that CBD products have not been cleared by their organization like other substances. It is their belief that the consumer needs to know that CBD products are safe to use, as well as the potential for side effects and drug interactions.
Following the presentations by the various speakers, the FDA representatives asked specific questions about the production and use of CBD and encouraged all attendees to submit additional, detailed information (particularly data) through the FDA official portal by July 16, 2019 — an extension from the original July 2 deadline.
The submissions received through the portal will be added to the information gathered through the public hearing, for review by the FDA. This will likely be a long and thorough review process and how long the FDA will need to determine how CBD is to be regulated remains unclear. It is also unclear how and if the FDA will choose to regulate cannabis and cannabis-derived products.