The USPS Vaping Ban: What It Means Going Forward
The Final Rule Puts a Stop on E-Cigarettes along with Cannabis and CBD Products.
It’s probably been a long time since you’ve managed to find a legitimate place to order vapes online — and newsflash: if you have, it may not have been legal. For back in late October, the United States Postal Service (USPS) put the final nail in such deliveries with the release of their Final Rule for all electronic nicotine delivery systems — or ENDS. While the rule itself focuses mainly on e-cigarettes, it also unfortunately covers cannabis/THC products as well as hemp-based CBD derivatives.
So why did they do this? Well, let’s take a look …
The EVALI Crisis
Before COVID, the respiratory epidemic that was all the rage in 2019 was EVALI, or E-Cigarette and Vaping-Associated Lung Injury. By August 2019, cases had peaked, and 68 deaths would later be tied to lung damage related to both nicotine e-cigs and cannabis vapes, most of them with the additive Vitamin E Acetate. That same year, Stanford researched the Impact of Tobacco Advertising and released a white paper accusing the San Francisco vaping giant Juul of gearing its advertising specifically to adolescents. The outcry over the epidemic nudged then-President Donald Trump at the end of his term to extend the Prevent All Cigarettes Trafficking Act to include all products within the e-cigarette and vaping market.
That proposed law, titled the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act”, or POSECA, received 15,700 comments during the public comment phase, several of them proposing to create carve-outs for cannabis or hemp CBD products. The USPS, in the final rule, refused to do either, thus mail delivery was restricted. For those who opposed enforcement of the restriction, arguing that the ban on delivery is contradicted by local or state laws legalizing cannabis products, the USPS responded that they wouldn’t deliver such products unless given the all-clear from the FDA:
The FDA likewise has not approved any ENDS product for therapeutic delivery of any non-nicotine substance, including, in particular, CBD or other substances derived from marijuana. Once again, except for hemp-derived CBD containing no more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight, cannabis and cannabis derivatives remain nonmailable under the Controlled Substances Act regardless of the POSECCA and notwithstanding any State or local laws on ‘medical’ marijuana
The USPS did acknowledge while hemp products may be legal under federal law, the law’s strict focus on vaping allowed them to deny delivery for such products, regardless of whether or not they contained hemp.
So What's Next?
The USPS did create certain exceptions within the final rule. If you’re in Alaska and Hawaii, you can still send vapes within the state to customers. In addition, businesses verified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms can send vapes to each other or to the government, and also for commercial testing and public health. And individuals can send 10 vapes to others for “non-commercial use.” But that’s basically where it ends. And Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association told Marijuana Moment that the ATF application process for businesses could take a while to work through, thanks to government bureaucracy.
While it may be hard to enforce, most small vape companies may not want to try it, since Conley mentioned the consequences would be “swift and severe” should they be caught. And since even private services such as FedEx and UPS appear unwilling to touch these products either, that leaves only expensive private courier services to fill the gap. So hard times have arrived for vape deliveries, no matter what’s in the smoke you’re blowing.