Hemp Shipping and the Legalities Behind It
Is is legal to ship hemp interstate? The simple answer is, yes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture published the interim final rule on Oct. 31, 2019, as authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. The rule outlines provisions for USDA to approve plans submitted by states and Indian tribes for the domestic production of hemp. Within this ruling, it lays out regulations that will prevent states and Indian tribes from restricting the shipment of hemp across their states or territories even if they prohibit its production.
Caution should still be taken when shipping hemp, regulations around the total THC levels and testing measures must be taken to ensure those THC levels are under 0.3%. The 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp as the “plant species Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.”
Hemp Shipping Documents Needed for Every Load
Having the below documents in place will ensure us that no matter when/where the driver gets pulled over by authorities, they will be complying with federal law.
- Manifest: Detailed copy of what is being transported
- COA: COA stands for Certificate of Analysis and the term is an official document that is required under federal law to verify regulatory compliance for THC levels. The COA is used to show that the actual cannabinoid content of the crop, and subsequently grants the authorization to harvest, transport and sell the flower or biomass as hemp. Each COA has several standard components with some labs offering more detailed analysis. There are two reasons you will need a COA; to prove compliance and to show potential potency.
- BOL: BOL stands for Bill of Lading and the term stands for a detailed list of a shipment of goods in the form of a receipt given by the carrier to the person consigning the goods.
- Licenses: Licenses and/or registration from both the Shipper and Receiver.
- Details: Typical contacts, locations, and other important information about the load.
Hemp Transport Permits
In some states, they recommend obtaining special permits to travel legally through their area. These permits and special instructions are all “recommended.” To be safe, ALWAYS carry a COA, BOL, and proper licensing for the driver, shipper and consignee.
- Alabama recommends that a release from their state department is obtained prior to transporting through it.
- Florida requires that all hemp and hemp related products be transported in an enclosed truck.
- Georgia recommends that a permit from their state department is obtained prior to transporting through it.
- Idaho is very strict in that they require ANY truck transporting hemp make a stop at the very first point of entry for inspection. The driver will have to wait as long as it takes – per the discretion of the state.
- New Mexico recommends providing the following information on the BOL:
- Truck #
- License Plate #
- Utah would like you to get a permit (free of charge) before traveling through it. This permit could take up to five days to be approved and issued.
States To Avoid
Most states are pretty lenient on their requirements, but Idaho has become a completely MUST AVOID state for the following reasons:
A few years ago, Idaho law enforcement arrested three truck drivers hauling legal hemp through their state. Charges were reduced once the drivers pled guilty to misdemeanors in return for suspended jail sentences and fines. Despite going easy on the drivers, the plea agreements make clear that despite a federal law making the interstate transport of hemp legal, even the federally legal substance remains illegal in Idaho. As time went on, Idaho has shown improvement on their strict laws, passing an executive order in Nov. 2019, to allow hemp transportation.
However, they created so many stipulations that there is a high chance that your product could be confiscated or held up for an extended period of time while they test it.
In March of 2020, the Idaho House committee voted against the Senate-passed legislation to legalize hemp farming and transportation in Idaho. The bill, SB 1345, sponsored by Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland, would, for the first time, create a distinction between hemp and marijuana under Idaho law. A bill fine-tuning the regulation of transportation of industrial hemp in Idaho and charging the state with developing a hemp-growing plan cleared the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee Thursday morning with a do-pass recommendation, according to the Idaho Press.
In Nov of 2021, U.S. officials have approved Idaho’s plan for growing and transporting hemp with up to 0.3% THC, the cannabis compound that gives marijuana its high.
Even with all of the more recent events, we still would prefer to avoid traveling through Idaho due to its fluctuating laws and regulations.
UPS, USPS, and FedEx: Which Ones Allow Hemp Products?
2020 made nearly every company pivot to offer online stores and at-home delivery, including CBD companies. But with laws in every state differing and seemingly changing every day, it can be confusing for consumers to know if buying CBD online is legal.
The first step is to know your state’s CBD laws. The state department that regulates the hemp program for your state should have that information available for consumers. The company that you are considering purchasing from should also be up to date on the laws for your state as well. With the USDA’s Hemp Production Plan being implemented in each state, laws should begin to stabilize, but if you are unsure, verifying is always a safe bet.
The next step is shipping. USPS, FedEx, and UPS all have regulations governing the shipping of hemp-derived products.
According to USPS’s website “some products derived from industrial hemp are mailable under specific conditions, which include”
A license issued by the state’s Agricultural Department authorizing the sender to produce hemp products
The hemp product does not contain more than the .3% THC threshold.
A business providing a current COA for a purchased product should cover the necessities. If you speak to customer service regarding your package, request that a COA be sent along with your products.
UPS relies on the state and federal guidelines for guidance on Hemp products. According to UPS’s website, “UPS accepts products made from Hemp (including Cannabidiol – CBD) for shipment only as permitted by all applicable state and federal laws.”
UPS also stresses that it is the shipper’s responsibility to ensure compliance. They go on to stress that under no circumstances will they accept packages of hemp related products from a store that also sells Marijuana and other THC related products.
To help avoid miscommunication, businesses should consider shipping a current copy of their product’s COA with the customer’s order.
FedEx has a long list of prohibited content, which unfortunately includes hemp and hemp related products. Item 25 reads, “Marijuana, including marijuana intended for recreational or medicinal use and cannabidiol (“CBD”), any product that contains any amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) and synthetic cannabinoids”.
Directly under that, Item 26 prohibits, “Raw or unrefined hemp plants, or their subparts and derivatives”.
Taking no chances, FedEx may be the last delivery service to join the list of those who deliver CBD products.