One of the main reasons we started WayofLeaf was to ensure people had access to up to date, accurate information about the globe’s hemp and cannabis markets. It is a challenging endeavor! The laws surrounding marijuana and industrial hemp in the U.S. alone seem to change with astounding regularity, and little of the legislation is particularly evident.
The fact that marijuana is federally illegal in the United States is one of the few things we can all agree on! It is legal for recreational use in 11 states and D.C., and there are medical marijuana programs in 22 other states at the time of writing. For the time being, at least, the government has shown no inclination to interfere in state’s rights regarding weed. The removal of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General helped alleviate a great deal of concern.
While marijuana and THC laws seem fairly clear (for now), confusion riddles the CBD industry over the legality of the substance. Several websites erroneously claim that CBD is entirely legal in all 50 states. The truth is less rosy for the industry, although there is basically no implementation of these laws!
When it comes to transporting hemp oil across state lines, especially in mail form, an increasing number of prospective consumers are nervous. “Will I get caught?” “What are the punishments for using CBD oils in a state where it is apparently illegal?” Such concerns prevent people from trying cannabidiol. Let’s try to set the record straight in this article.
CBD Laws – Noise & Confusion
Technically, CBD is not legal in all 50 states. If you go to Nebraska, South Dakota, or Idaho, the law suggests that the non-intoxicating compound in weed and hemp is illegal. In states such as Georgia, CBD oil must have 0.0% THC – less than the Federal guideline of 0.3%.
As such, one could say it is illegal to mail or use CBD in one of these states. However, it seems as if federal law supersedes the obscure rules of individual states, in this instance. Yes, you could end up in jail for using cannabidiol, but enforcement of the law is practically non-existent.
In South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem says the compound must remain illegal in spite of federal law. The state’s Attorney General then released a statement in March 2019 that said hemp and CBD are unlawful. Nebraska classifies the compound as marijuana. Even so, the state has a number of CBD stores in operation.
In May 2019, a security officer at Disney World Orlando found a small bottle of CBD in Hester Burkhalter’s purse. He alerted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies arrested Burkhalter, and she spent 12 hours in prison. Fortunately, prosecutors dropped the charges. There are a few other arrests for CBD-related ‘crimes’:
- North Carolina police took a 16-year old girl to jail for having medicinal CBD in her backpack.
- Louisiana police arrested the owner of a Lafayette CBD store for drug trafficking.
- Nebraska cops arrested a mother and son team after they opened a CBD store in Scottsbluff.
- The Ohio authorities charged Robert Faulkner with a felony for possession of half an ounce of CBD oil.
Should I Be Worried About Mailing CBD?
In theory, there is cause for concern. While CBD is as legal as soda in most places, there is a tiny percentage of areas where the substance is treated as an illegal one. However, an incredibly small number of cases make it to court. As with the fiasco in Orlando, those on the receiving end usually escape with no punishment. Authorities in states such as Nebraska talk a good game, but in reality, there are CBD stores all over the place!
Therefore, when companies claim that CBD is “legal in all 50 states,” they do so because of the lack of follow-through when it comes to cannabidiol arrests. Proponents of transporting CBD across state lines have more than one leg to stand on. The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and commercial sale of hemp and hemp extract (including CBD oil). At that time, however, you had to grow it as part of a government pilot program for academic or research purposes.
Even at that point, there were hundreds of companies selling CBD who were not operating as part of such a program. They shipped their products nationwide to all 50 states with practically no consequences.
Effects of the 2018 Farm Bill
The Farm Bill 2018 went much further. It legalized the cultivation of hemp and declassified it as a Schedule I controlled substance. It defined ‘hemp’ as the Cannabis sativa L. plant and any part of the plant with a THC concentration of no more than 0.3%. Interestingly, the FDA confirmed that it is illegal to add CBD to food products or dietary supplements. This is because cannabidiol is an active ingredient in an FDA-approved drug. As such, it is not allowed a nutritional supplement or food supply designation.
The FDA also stated that any product marketed with a therapeutic claim must have the Administration’s approval before its introduction into interstate commerce. If we read between the lines, it suggests that mailing CBD oil is perfectly legal, as long as you don’t make any claims about its ability to heal. In other words, companies that sell CBD oil across the United States are shielded from legal issues if they stick to the facts and continue to educate prospective customers.
What About the DEA?
Even before the 2018 Farm Bill became law, the DEA admitted that it wasn’t trying to crack down on CBD sales. Back in July 2018, a spokesperson for the agency, Rusty Payne, attempted to clarify its stance. Payne said that “hemp was a made-up word,” and products coming from the plant, including CBD, were illegal. Of course, the recent Farm Bill legislation made this a moot point.
What was more interesting was the DEA’s general attitude. Payne said that the nation was in the middle of an opioid epidemic and that the agency had “bigger fish to fry.” More tellingly, he said the following:
“I think people think [CBD] is high on [the DEA’s] priority list right now. It is not.”
Even at that stage, the DEA realized that CBD was not killing people. Since the Farm Bill became law, cannabidiol is even lower down on the DEA’s list. The fact is: Hundreds of CBD companies sell the compound and transport it across state lines every single day. Aside from the occasional anomaly, you don’t hear stories of online stores, in particular, closing down due to law enforcement interference.
The USPS Speaks Out About Mailing CBD
The United States Postal Service (USPS) tried to clear up some of the confusion in March 2019. It confirmed that hemp products are legal to mail under certain circumstances because the plant isn’t a federally controlled substance. On its Postal Bulletin, the USPS said it had received many inquiries from companies and individuals about mailing CBD.
The new USPS policy states that you can mail hemp and hemp-based products like CBD, with a maximum THC content of 0.3% in the following circumstances:
- You comply with all applicable local, state, and federal laws regarding the production, processing, distribution, and sale of hemp.
- You retain a record that establishes your compliance with the laws. This record includes lab test reports or compliance reports for at least two years after the mailing date.
You don’t need to present the documentation when you mail the CBD. However, the agency can request it at that time or any date in the future.
This update comes several months after the USPS was embroiled in a legal battle for improperly seizing hemp-derived CBD. The case in question was KAB, LLC v. United States Postal Service. In September 2018, the administrative judge found that
“Congress currently permits the interstate sale, transportation, and distribution of exempt industrial hemp pursuant to the most recent appropriations act; I find that exempt industrial hemp and products derived from exempt industrial hemp are mailable.”
The USPS update acknowledges that the 2018 Farm Bill is law. The agency says once the Federal Government implements the code correctly, it will “modify the mailability criteria for CBD and cannabis products.” What the USPS is saying is that the Farm Bill’s regulatory framework is not yet established and provides “temporary” instructions. In essence, the USPS says it will loosen its guidelines when the Farm Bill becomes clearer.
When Mailing CBD Oil, Know That There’s a BIG Difference Between CBD and Other Cannabis Products
If the laws surrounding mailing CBD across state lines are murky at best, there is no such ambivalence when it comes to marijuana. Cannabis oils containing more than 0.3% THC are undeniably illegal. While there is a slight chance of a CBD package seizure, be sure that the authorities will take action for high-THC products.
Ultimately, you should be on safe ground if purchasing CBD derived from industrial hemp. If it is legal to grow the plant, there seems little reason why the cops would arrest any person using a substance derived from a legitimate crop.
Is It Legal to Mail CBD Oil?: Final Thoughts
The 2014 and 2018 Farm Acts seem to suggest that mailing lawful hemp and CBD is legal. It doesn’t matter whether they have the documentation specified by the USPS. On the plus side, the postal service is developing a method of ensuring that it seizes fewer packages. If nothing else, the guidelines are pragmatic.
Ultimately, the gap between federal and state law makes everything more confusing than necessary. We can’t say that you can definitely send bottles of hemp CBD oil across state lines to your friend. Equally, we wouldn’t know it is illegal either unless, of course, it contains more than 0.3% THC or is derived from cannabis.
The fact is, the authorities are not especially interested in confiscating your CBD package. This is why the industry is booming in the United States. If reputable brands such as PureKana knew it was illegal, do you think they would continue shipping products to all 50 states? At some point, their packages would get seized and ruin their businesses. Law enforcement would have to do the same thing with the hundreds of CBD companies operating in the United States.
For the most part, the authorities in most states exercise common sense. The time and expenses of enforcing such an absurd law are enormous, and most agencies are content to use their resources elsewhere. If you live in a state where CBD is technically illegal, you may need to exercise a degree of caution. Even so, you’ll find that most CBD sellers ship to Nebraska, Idaho, and South Dakota. Why? Because they are confident of avoiding legal consequences.