Recent court rulings make it clear that it’s fully legal to send hemp by mail.
History has been made in recent weeks. With industrial hemp becoming federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, new rules and regulations surrounding the industry will begin to appear. Another important change? New rulings from the Judicial Officer and the Federal Court for the U.S. Postal Service now allow shipments of industrial hemp — specifically, hemp-derived CBD derived products — through USPS.
Courtney N. Moran, founding principal of EARTH Law, LLC, has vigorously fought multiple battles for these rights. Still, as can be expected, there remain problems and misunderstandings about legal hemp. And Moran will have to continue her battle until these issues are fully solved.
We recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Moran in which we sought to learn more about these battles, their resolutions, and what people can expect when attempting to ship hemp in the future.
THE LEGAL BATTLE OVER SENDING HEMP BY MAIL
After Moran received complaints from clients entailing how their hemp products weren’t being shipped to their respected destinations, she filed multiple cases. The goal of these cases was to establish a federal judicial precedent which:
- Defines laws surrounding transportation of industrial hemp.
- Clarifies the intent of Congress.
- Halts misinformation and misinterpretations by the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Cases like the recent “KaB, LLC v. USPS” established these necessary precedents. In this case, USPS seized a package of CBD derived from a hemp agriculture pilot program with the excuse, “the parcel [was] emitting an odor of a controlled substance.”
When this case was brought to court, the question arose whether or not “CBD grown or cultivated from industrial hemp pursuant to a pilot program established by Congress under the Agriculture Act of 2014 is nonmailable as a Schedule I controlled substance.”
Moran’s argument was that the hemp was grown in compliance with an agricultural pilot program established under the 2014 Farm Bill. This hemp is exempt from control under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Therefore, the hemp is not a controlled substance and is allowed to be mailed.
There was a lot of legal back and forth. For though it’s confirmed legal to ship hemp in accordance with agriculture programs, there remains much confusion in postal service policy. At the end of the day, the entire country hasn’t woken up from decades of hemp prohibition. Solving this confusion ultimately lies in separating hemp from psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”).
A WIN FOR THE INDUSTRY
Ultimately, the court agreed with Moran’s argument about sending hemp by mail. She won a great leap forward for this industry with this important ruling. Here’s how she described her success:
“I’ve covered 16 cases with the Postal Service,” Moran explained. “All of them had been decided in our favor. And all of those folks either received their packages back already or they’ve gone on their way to be received from the recipient.”
Most recently, on December 11th, Moran won another case which added a new twist to this story. Up until that point, most of the cases she fought for were in regards to hemp-products or hemp-derived CBD. However, this particular case was focused around hemp seeds.
“That’s what’s really thrilling about these cases. For the very first time, [we] have a judge upholding the intent of Congress versus the guidance that was put out by federal agencies and clearly reiterating agricultural hemp is exempted and not scheduled.”
PROBLEMS TO CONTINUE
Still, even though these cases establish a precedent for sending hemp by mail, people shouldn’t expect all problems with the postal service to simply vanish. As mentioned, there’s still plenty of confusion in the public’s perspective. Until more people understand hemp’s legal status and its difference from psychoactive cannabis, cases such as these will continue to appear.
“The US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has law enforcement authority and capability,” Moran tells us. And the truth of the matter is, there are still plenty of people trying to ship illegal marijuana and hemp through the postal service.
With that in mind, Moran informs, “Only this agricultural pilot program hemp is lawful. So, let’s say somebody grew industrial hemp domestically but was not part of a pilot program and did not have their proper registration or license through their state’s authorizing agency — that would not be legal and not be compliant.”
And even for those who are legally growing and shipping it, the problems stem from those who continue to abuse the U.S. Postal Service in an illegal manner. Moran says that people attempting to send illegal products through the mail are causing harm to the people trying to do it right.
YOUR RIGHT TO SHIP HEMP IS DEFENDABLE IN COURT
Luckily, the postal service is developing a standard operating procedure which gives people the authority to legally ship hemp in advance. The goal is to prevent continuous court cases over hemp.
Furthermore, with the legalization of hemp just hitting the entire country, new rules and regulations are bound to arise. Just as with psychoactive cannabis legalization in various states, lawmakers are still figuring out how to make this all work. Back in July, California saw a complete shelving of CBD products due to new cannabis labeling regulations. This same uncertainty is almost certain to hit the hemp industry.
However, with people such as Moran defending hemp farmers and distributor alike, we can trust the fight for these rules and regulations will go in the right direction. In terms of this recent win, she proclaimed:
“We’re not intimidated and really look to the letter of the law. And made a very clear determination based on what the letter of the law says and the intent of Congress.”