Can You Ship Marijuana Seeds Through The Mail

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Under the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, the USPS can ship certain products, as long as specified conditions are met. Learn more about the consequences of ordering marijuana in the mail. If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact SMT Legal ASAP. Earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) acknowledged that cannabis seeds are in fact legal products under provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill as

U.S. Postal Service: Yes, Hemp and Hemp-Based Products Can Be Shipped by Mail

Under the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, the USPS can ship certain products, as long as specified conditions are met.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) updated its “Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail” policy June 6 to provide new mailing standards for products derived from cannabis and industrial hemp.

According to its website, the USPS has received numerous inquiries from both businesses and consumers looking to use its services to transport CBD products. In its recent bulletin, the USPS clarified that the 2014 Farm Bill, which authorized states to implement hemp cultivation programs, as well as the 2018 Farm Bill that federally legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp, allow the USPS to ship some products derived from industrial hemp, under specific conditions.

A business that wishes to ship those products must have a license from its state’s Department of Agriculture to produce industrial hemp, according to USPS policy, and the THC concentration of any product mailed must not exceed 0.3 percent. Once the 2018 Farm Bill is fully implemented and states begin to regulate hemp and hemp-derived products, the USPS will further amend its policy on the transport of hemp and hemp-based products, according to the bulletin.

Those businesses are responsible for complying with all laws and regulations that govern mailability, the USPS said. While they are not required to present documentation proving state licensure and THC content at the time of mailing, this documentation may be requested should there be doubt about the item’s mailability or the addressee’s ability to legally receive it.

High Falls Hemp, a New York-based hemp-derived product manufacturer, has been shipping with the USPS for over a year, according to Managing Director Sheila Doyle. The company only ran into an issue once, Doyle said, when a particular post office branch had a misunderstanding of hemp products.

“They questioned ‘how we knew it would not blow up on an airplane,’ so clearly they were assuming that all hemp-CBD products were vapes,” Doyle said. “This is not the case as we do not sell vapes. They also told us it needed to be packed in a special way, so at the time it was a little confusing.”

High Falls Hemp employees now carry the required documents to show the USPS that the company’s products are compliant, should a question arise, Doyle said. “Our products also have QR codes on them that lead to a web page containing the third-party lab reports on each product. That will also make it easier to show anyone what is in the product and the proper low-level of THC.”

Recently, High Falls Hemp shipped hemp seeds internationally, and although other carriers declined the shipments, the USPS accepted them after reviewing the required documentation.

“It is a big deal for the industry to be able to ship via USPS, and I also think it is a great move for the USPS to get in on the ground floor by accepting this industry,” Doyle said.

The USPS’s new guidelines for hemp and hemp-derived products are part of a larger industry trend that has been evolving over the past couple of months with the normalization of the market, according to Lex Pelger, director of education at CV Sciences, a producer of cannabis-based products.

“I think this is a big deal,” Pelger told Cannabis Business Times. “That’s really important, to have these kinds of clarifications, to have the USPS say, ‘This is completely legal.’ It does matter, and you see other agencies following suit in their various departments.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), for example, updated its policy last month to allow travelers to bring certain CBD products on flights.

“I think that the USPS stepping up to clearly lay out their policy was wise given the movement towards the acceptance and legalization of hemp in the U.S. post 2018 Farm Bill,” said Jason Mitchell, co-founder and president of Hemp Fusion, a provider of hemp-based products. “This move also provides additional support for this movement and thus helps to create a sense of acceptance by other organizations.”

Now that the USPS has updated its hemp and CBD policies, Pelger sees it as positive for not only hemp- and CBD-related businesses, but also shipping businesses, like the USPS, which will now have more packages to send around the country.

“It might be a drop in the bucket compared to all the packages shipped in the United States, but it’s one more category of product that’s going to be shipped a lot more,” Pelger said.

Although CV Sciences ships its products through UPS, Pelger has previously worked at companies that used the USPS, and he has never seen any major issues arise with either of these major carriers when transporting hemp and hemp-derived products.

“Because they’re such a normalized product and they just simply look like another plant extract, in general, it doesn’t seem like it’s raising red flags,” he said. “Often, I would suspect people don’t even know or care what’s in there. It doesn’t seem like they’re looking for it.”

Even so, businesses and consumers have historically been fearful of shipping these products through the mail due to the regulatory gray area, Pelger said. Now that the USPS has clarified its policy to definitively allow the shipment of these products, it will allow industry stakeholders to breathe a sigh of relief.

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“When I’m out on the road, I hear a lot of elderly folks, especially, being worried about this being shipped to their house, being worried about legality, being worried about their insurance companies,” Pelger said. “To have a statement like this to let them rest easy … means there are going to be a lot more grandmothers or parents around the country who are finally going to feel safe enough to buy a hemp extract online and have it shipped to their house. And that could be a really important thing for their health.”

For companies shipping hemp and hemp-based products, it should be business as usual, Pelger said, although businesses should read the USPS’s guidelines very carefully and be aware of some kinks that need to be worked out.

“They’re not simple,” he said. “It involves three different prongs: a self-certification statement, a license issued by that state’s Department of Agriculture, and then saying that [the hemp or hemp-derived product contains] less than 0.3-percent THC. What the USPS actually said is kind of confusing and doesn’t quite make sense with how some of the industry works because for some companies, like ours, we don’t have a license from any local department of agriculture because none of our hemp is grown in the United States. We’re using only Dutch hemp, and so we don’t need to deal with the USDA for growing hemp. So, we wouldn’t have a license from them, and it’s something that’s required.”

Companies in the space should also be mindful of local authorities who may not align with the USPS policy, or the USDA’s recent memo clarifying that hemp can be legally transported across state lines.

“Even though they’re saying this is true, there are still shipments being seized in the country, like in Idaho, for perfectly legal hemp shipments going through,” Pelger said. “The local cops don’t like it, and even though it’s legal under the federal law, it’s months and months of back and forth to try to get back their plants.”

Indeed, the case of Denis Palamarchuk, who was transporting hemp through Idaho on his way from one licensed company to another earlier this year when police officers asserted he was carrying illegal marijuana through the state, demonstrates federal and state tension that law enforcement authorities and agricultural regulators have been wrestling since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Even so, Pelger said the USPS memo offers some much-needed clarity that can be amended as more guidelines are handed down from other applicable federal agencies. “This new memo is a great step in the right direction, but as it says on the issuing statement, this is a memo subject to change. So, they’re still working out what exactly this needs to look like, but you can tell that they’re working hard to try to do their best to be on the right side of the 2018 Farm Bill and where all these laws are moving.”

Marijuana in the Mail: What You Should Know Before Mail Ordering

Marijuana laws in a lot of states are loosening up lately, which may lead consumers to believe they can do more with the drugs than they used to. However, sending marijuana in the mail remains illegal under federal law; and, the United States Postal Service (USPS) can and will intercept your package which could cause you to be arrested. In fact, every single year, thousands of mailed packages of pot are intercepted. During the fiscal year 2018, Postal Inspectors seized 96,668 pounds of mailed narcotics and other drugs and obtained 1,624 related drug crime convictions. While illegal under federal law, mailing marijuana is also illegal under many state laws. Although it varies according to the facts of each case, a violator can be charged in federal court, state court, or both.

Factors that influence the severity of the charges and resulting punishment include the amount of pot that was mailed, the amounts mailed by others if you are charged with conspiracy, the offender’s criminal history, how you choose to plead, and whether you cooperate with the authorities and how valuable that cooperation is to them, among other factors.

You cannot even mail marijuana in a state where it is decriminalized or “legal.” While federal law prohibits mailing it between states, even mailing the drug from one location to another in a legal state can subject you to arrest and prosecution.

Federal Law Prohibits Mailing Marijuana

United States federal law prohibits mailing controlled substances, of which marijuana is one – and, both the shipper and the recipient can be punished. The potential federal laws you violate when engaging in this behavior can include but are not limited to:

  • Marijuana trafficking
  • Misuse of the mail
  • Mailing of injurious articles
  • Conspiracy

As the law currently stands, the base charge for shipping less than 50 kilos of marijuana through the United States Postal Service can lead to up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. UPS and FedEx similarly prevent the shipping of materials that are prohibited by federal law. The biggest difference between the USPS and private couriers is that USPS has to obtain a warrant to search but FedEx and UPS (and others) do not – they can simply open your envelope, box, or other package as they wish. Since the federal government will indict these third-party carriers as co-conspirators in the distribution of controlled substances, they are likely to indict a shipper violating federal law. It doesn’t hurt that workers are offered up to $50,000 as a reward for finding and reporting those who ship marijuana.

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Mailing hemp, however, may be a different story under the Farm Bills which federally legalized hemp products containing a THC content of less than 0.3% (this includes most, if not all, CBD products). However, hemp products can only be mailed by a licensed industrial hemp producer.

Pennsylvania State Laws on Marijuana

Cannabis remains illegal for recreational use in Pennsylvania, but possession of small amounts is decriminalized in several large cities. Pittsburgh City Council voted to decriminalize up to 30 grams in December 2015. The medicinal use of marijuana was legalized in 2016.

Pennsylvania law breaks down the offenses and penalties related to marijuana into four main categories:

    : If you possess 30 grams or less of marijuana, it is charged as a misdemeanor and punishable by up to 30 days incarceration and a maximum fine of $500. If you possess more than 30g, while still a misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to up to one year of incarceration and a maximum fine of $5,000.
  1. Sale or Distribution: If you are alleged to have less than 30 grams for sale or distribution, the charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in prison and a maximum fine of $500. If the charge is for more than 30 grams, it is charged as a felony and punishable by two to five years of incarceration and up to $15,000 in fines. These penalties can be adjusted when the crime takes place near a school or recreational playground, when you involve a minor, and/or if you have a previous drug conviction.
  2. Cultivation: If you have any number of marijuana plants, you are charged with a felony punishable by two and a half to five years incarceration and up to $15,000 in fines. : The charge for the possession or sale of marijuana paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, punishable by six to 12 months incarceration and up to a $2,500 fine. When it involves a minor at least three years younger, the incarceration time increases to two years and the fines increase to $5,000.

Pittsburgh Drug Crimes Lawyers

Although half the United States has legalized weed, shipping marijuana through the postal system or via courier remains illegal. The increase in the number of states legalizing weed has caused the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to keep a close eye on packages being shipped now more than ever before. If you have been charged with a state or federal drug crime in Pittsburgh, our criminal defense lawyers can help, so contact us today to learn more.

Experts Warn Against Mailing Cannabis In Light of Recent DEA Ruling

While a recent DEA letter appeared to suggest that cannabis material containing less than 0.3% THC is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, legal experts still caution against sending seeds, clones, and other byproducts by mail.

Full story after the jump.

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Earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) acknowledged that cannabis seeds are in fact legal products under provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill as long as they contain less than the 0.3% THC legal threshold qualifying them as hemp. The attorney who sent the letter that sparked the review, Shane Pennington, who serves as counsel in Vicente Sederberg’s New York office, cautioned though that not much will change for the industry in the short term just because of the DEA’s letter.

“To everybody out there who is saying, ‘This is one simple trick to mail marijuana,’ please, please hear me – it is not. This is not what this is. Before you do anything consult your attorney – I would say consult your attorney and read the letter, because if the letter doesn’t say ‘You can mail it,’ I would not assume you can. I just want to be very clear about that.” – Pennington to Ganjapreneur

Pennington, who tries cannabis cases in federal court, sent the letter because it was obvious to him that the “governing principle” under the Farm Bill for distinguishing legal hemp from illegal cannabis under federal law was the 0.3% THC threshold, rather than the so-called “source rule” which dictates that anything derived from an illegal source, regardless of THC content, is illegal.

Under the source rule, seeds and clones sourced from outlawed cannabis are also considered controlled substances under federal law despite THC concentrations falling below the 0.3% threshold outlined in the Farm Bill.

Pennington said that many people in the cannabis industry argued that the source rule was the lay of the land and that the Farm Bill had no effect on the legal status of seeds and clones that could grow into THC-rich plants, prompting Pennington to ask the DEA for an official determination on the status of cannabis seeds.

“Of course, the DEA has been wrong about plenty of stuff,” Pennington said, “I sue them all the time. Nonetheless, they do speak with authority on the law and if I could get an official determination I could at least tell these people, ‘Look, we don’t have to argue anymore.’”

In the letter to Pennington, DEA Chief of the Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section Terrence L. Boos, concludes that “marihuana seed that has a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3[%] on a dry weight basis meets the definition of ‘hemp’ and thus is not controlled” under the Controlled Substances Act – and not just seed, but “tissue culture and any other genetic material” containing less than 0.3% THC.

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But, Pennington said, that letter didn’t end all arguments, which he said have evolved into claims that cannabis seeds, clones, and basically anything with less than 0.3% THC could now be mailed, brought across state lines, and shared between states that have legalized cannabis.

Nat Pennington, the founder and CEO of Humboldt Seed Company (and not related to Shane), pointed out that California’s adult-use law is very clear that seeds cannot be transferred in or out of the state regardless of current federal policies. Nat points out that in newly legal states there is often a baked-in “immaculate conception clause” which allows companies and cultivators to start growing for the program but turns a blind eye to exactly where that first batch of seed is sourced from. The DEA letter, in Nat’s view, takes some of the risk out of that first legal grow because the companies are definitely not violating the source rule by simply possessing the seeds, clones, or tissue culture as long as they don’t exceed federal THC limits for controlled substances.

While California’s rules on seeds are very strict, the rules in Oklahoma, another state where Humboldt Seed Company operates, are not.

“You don’t have to prove that they came from within the state’s system,” Nat said in an interview with Ganjapreneur. “And they also don’t keep track or want to regulate what happens to the seeds that are created within the system – they’re treated just like tomato seeds or anything else.”

Oklahoma does require all seeds in the state to be tested for invasive plants and germination rates, Nat said.

“As long as states don’t have a closed loop like California, there is more potential for seed sharing,” he said.

According to Nat, the big deal in the DEA’s response is that it likely opens the window for research and intellectual property and the ability to “follow normal seed laws.”

“There’s an opportunity to really have the states look at it differently – the industry could really benefit a lot from, for example, being able to bring cannabis seeds onto campus for genomic analysis. It’s silly to not be able to utilize that.” – Nat Pennington to Ganjapreneur

While many colleges and universities are offering cannabis-related certificates and degree programs, none of them have offerings that touch the plant (including seeds) because they receive federal funding.

In 2019, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) did release the following guidance about mailing hemp as defined under the farm bill:

“Hemp and hemp-based products, including cannabidiol (CBD) with the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of such hemp (or its derivatives) not exceeding a 0.3 percent limit are permitted to be mailed only when:

  1. The mailer complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws (such as the Agricultural Act of 2014 and the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018) pertaining to hemp production, processing, distribution, and sales; and
  2. The mailer retains records establishing compliance with such laws, including laboratory test results, licenses, or compliance reports, for no less than 2 years after the date of mailing.”

Shane said that the issue of whether cannabis seeds could be mailed likely needs clarification by USPS officials in light of the DEA letter.

“All that this letter says is what DEA thinks the [CSA] means at the time that they wrote that letter with respect to these particular substances,” he explained. “It’s not saying it’s legal to mail stuff under federal law or state law – it’s not saying anything about state law. … This letter doesn’t change California law on this stuff. It doesn’t change was USPS thinks are verboten cannabis products.”

The letter, Shane said, doesn’t legalize interstate commerce of clones, doesn’t change any rules on marketing or advertising, or the positions of any other federal agency.

The real significance, Shane said, is that it offers some clarification for “third-party regulators” such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state regulators, law enforcement agencies, because they “take their cues” from the DEA on controlled substances policy.

“If you read opinions from state courts about trying to draw lines under state law on hemp and marijuana, they will cite DEA regs and DEA guidance,” he said. “The point is that, while it’s not immediate, over time as these regulators and lawmakers realize that DEA’s views are more flexible than they realized, it is entirely reasonable to expect that they will loosen up some of their standards as well.”

Shane explained that what will really determine how quickly and dramatically those standards change is how quickly people use the letter to lobby state lawmakers, regulators, and other agencies.

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