The legalities of traveling and shipping cannabis or products made from it can be overwhelmingly confusing. There are many things to consider, and these are important to know especially for medical patients who rely on cannabis for managing diseases, have trouble getting to a dispensary near you, or need to dispose of marijuana after traveling to a cannabis-friendly state.
The short answer is: no, it’s illegal to ship marijuana products and edibles within the United States. At the time of writing, marijuana is still a federally illegal substance which means that it is illegal in the eyes of the federal government. The United States Postal Service (USPS), as well as other private postage companies, are managed and controlled by the government. If there is any criminal activity that has been discovered, coursed through the mail, it can lead to federal criminal offenses, which are discussed in the United States Code 1716.
Individuals who are caught shipping marijuana even from one legal state to another can be prosecuted by the federal government. This can also lead to state charges based on the quantity of illegal drugs. However, if you are caught mailing cannabis within a state where cannabis is already legal, the best course of action would be to seek the help of a drug defense attorney.
The current law states that shipping 50 kilos of marijuana through the UPS can lead to as much as 5 years in prison with a fine of up to $250,000. Both FedEx and UPS don’t allow shipping products that are not federally legal, though the USPS has to get a search warrant while FedEx, UPS, and other private couriers don’t. That means that they can open your package if they think that it’s necessary to do so. Keep in mind that postage workers are also given a reward, sometimes to the tune of $50,000, if they are able to identify packages that contain marijuana and report the people behind it.
Since many people have been able to get away with traveling internationally with edibles in their suitcase, you may think that it’s okay to mail it. However, the answer is still no.
Edibles with THC is still federally illegal, and since the US postal service is an agency of the federal government, anyone caught can be subject to hefty fines and may even risk jail time. Both the recipient and the shipper can be punished.
Hemp and CBD
Mailing raw hemp plants can only be done legally for pre-approved individuals or companies within the United States. The UPS can already accept any product made from hemp as well as CBD, based on state and federal laws. However, the responsibility of ensuring compliance is all in the hands of the shipper, so it’s best to research the current Food, Drugs, & Cosmetics Act.
According to the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, CBD is legally considered as any product made from hemp which contains under 0.3% THC. Even though CBD can be produced from other plants that have a higher THC content, only a few places can legally sell CBD made from marijuana as opposed to hemp. But CBD products aren’t as tightly regulated in areas where recreational or medical marijuana has already been legalized.
One also has to keep in mind that CBD must be legal in the place of origin as well as its destination. There are still some states that unfortunately prohibit the sales of CBD products while complex restrictions in various locations can make shipping more confusing than it should be.
Currently, the USPS requires businesses that ship CBD to make sure that all state, federal, and local laws have been complied with though this isn’t limited to the THC content in each product. The proper documentation is also critical for compliance. This is why it’s become easy for online cannabis businesses to ship out raw hemp or other hemp-based products.
It’s also important to note that marijuana businesses are treated differently compared to individuals who may want to ship marijuana, hemp, or edibles for personal reasons. Again, while many people have gotten away with doing so in the past, remember that this could be a matter of luck. You would have to ask if getting caught would be worth it. After all, if you are traveling to a destination where it’s legal for recreational use, you’re better off just buying it there.
Since the laws regarding the transportation of marijuana is constantly changing, the best thing to do would be to consult a lawyer before you try to do so yourself. This can save you the headaches and legal trouble that could arise out of doing it incorrectly or illegally.
Buying marijuana and THC products online is easy to do so in states where it’s legal. Heck, you could even have it delivered straight to your door with no questions asked except that you do have to prove you are at least 21 years of age to do so. Additionally, city and state laws may vary especially when it comes to the amount that you can buy, own at home, and where you can smoke cannabis.
Many licensed dispensaries provide safe and secure options for purchasing marijuana online and having it delivered. Just be sure that you are buying from a company that is reputable. As always, research the current laws in your area.