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USPS Bans Nicotine and Cannabis Devices from Being Shipped Through Mail

The details of the final USPS rule regarding the shipment of nicotine products, including cannabis vapes, were released by the US Postal Service (USPS). They prohibit them from being sent through USPS mail services.

On October 20, the USPS declared that it would no longer permit vaping pens containing nicotine. This applies also to vape pen pens containing hemp, CBD, or cannabis. Although this final verdict is not yet in place, it has been an ongoing process since early 2018. USPS declared in April 2021 it would seek to amend its rules for preventing vape pens from being shipped, as part of a Congress bill provision that was passed in December 2020. The Preventing Online Sales E-Cigarettes to Children Act, also known as the POSECCA (Preventing Online Sales E-Cigarettes to Children Act), aims to stop minors from possessing vaping devices and to reduce the lung damage that vaping can cause. The bill’s language includes cannabis.

In a Federal Register article entitled “Treatment of E-Cigarettes in the Mail” published on October 21, the agency points out that the word “substances” applies to more than nicotine. “As discussed further in section III.D.1.i, notwithstanding Congress’s use of ‘nicotine’ in the term ‘electronic nicotine delivery systems,’ the plain language of the POSECCA definition makes clear that nonmailable ENDS products include those containing or used with not only nicotine, but also ‘flavor[ ] or any other substance,’” the article states. “It goes without saying that marijuana, hemp, and their derivatives are substances. Hence, to the extent that they may be delivered to an inhaling user through an aerosolized solution, they and the related delivery systems, parts, components, liquids, and accessories clearly fall within the POSECCA’s scope.”

USPS asked the public for comments on the topic. The article says that 15700 of these were received. There were many arguments presented that the final rule should not restrict cannabis products, however the agency directly addresses these concerns regarding why its inclusion of cannabis as an electronic nicotine delivery systems, or “ENDS product,” is necessary. “Thus, ENDS products containing or used with THC (e.g., THC-containing liquids, cannabis waxes, dry cannabis herbal matter) are already nonmailable under the CSA. Congress’s decision to keep such items out of the Federal postal network does not bear on whether their use or exchange violates State or local law. Nor does it alter whether the Department of Justice—a Federal entity independent of the Postal Service—may use its appropriated funds to interfere with the operation of State or local laws.”

USPS has noted that there is federal law that allows hemp to be shipped with less than 0.3% THC. However, it must not be included in vaping products. This new rule is not applicable to all cases.

  • Intra-Alaska and Intra-Hawaii Mailings: Intrastate shipments within Alaska or Hawaii;
  • Business/Regulatory Purposes: Shipments between verified and authorized tobacco-industry businesses for business purposes, or between such businesses and federal or state agencies for regulatory purposes;
  • Certain Individuals: Lightweight, noncommercial shipments by adult individuals, limited to 10 shipments per 30-day period;
  • Consumer Testing: Limited shipments of cigarettes sent by verified and authorized manufacturers to adult smokers for consumer testing purposes; and
  • Public Health: Limited shipments of cigarettes by federal agencies for public health purposes under similar rules applied to manufacturers conducting consumer testing.

Commenter 1 questioned whether the new rule was enforceable. He suggested that vendors could send goods below the threshold weight to avoid detection. USPS replied that the commenter’s assumptions on this matter were false. “First, there is no weight threshold for Postal Service enforcement of mailability; the Postal Service can and does enforce mailability laws regardless of weight, shape, or other mailpiece characteristics,” the article states. “Second, a vendor that does not advertise its sales is unlikely to remain a vendor for long. Third, the presence of identifying markings is not a prerequisite for detection of nonmailable matter; indeed, few shippers of the substantial quantities of nonmailable contraband detected by the Postal Inspection Service and its Federal law-enforcement partners transparently indicate the illicit contents that they are shipping.”