Thanks to technology, you can now order and ship an item faster and cheaper than ever before all around the world. A single click on a website starts a process that eventually delivers the item to your doorstep. That is, if it can go across the border.
Most countries use extensive policing to guard their borders from illegal and dangerous items, but sometimes an item is in a legal gray area and you’d rather know in advance if it’s going to arrive at your doorstep or not. So, would purchasing CBD oil in the USA and shipping it nationally or internationally make the shipment liable to seizure? What are the regulations on shipping CBD products nationally and internationally from the USA? Check out which countries sell CBD online here.
In this post, we’ll tackle these questions.
Hemp and marijuana both belong to the Cannabis family but have different chemical compositions and uses. Some governments have yet to recognize the distinction between the two, lumping them together and prosecuting the growers of both plants equally. While hemp is grown for industrial purposes and has low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, marijuana has a high THC content that leads to psychoactive effects.
Many governments have banned the growing and distribution of all cannabis plants and their extracts, save for some government-regulated growers. Only in Canada are all cannabis plants legal to grow, sell and consume, with some minor restrictions on consumer age. In Uruguay and South Africa, cannabis plants are legal for natives but still illegal to sell to foreigners. Most of the rest of the world bans all cannabis plants unless they are grown by government-regulated growers in a tightly controlled process.
In the USA, each state has different regulations on hemp and cannabinoids such as CBD, but overall these items were considered controlled substances for over 70 years due to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. In that act, section 297A governs hemp production, providing strict regulations concerning the growing of hemp. This section introduced restrictions for states that wanted to allow hemp growing by mandating them to:
● perform random inspections of hemp growers and their crops
● furnish law enforcement with growers’ information such as legal description of the land
● certify that their hemp growers can test for THC presence in cannabis and dispose of plants and products that contain more than 0.3% THC
The trace amounts of THC in hemp were deemed so problematic that the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 took thorough steps to criminalize hemp, which barely contains any THC, in an effort to dissuade states from allowing hemp farming. Thanks to the tireless lobbying of hemp grower organizations, 2018 saw the introduction of H.R.5485 - Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which amended the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to make hemp a cash crop just like tobacco.
For the farmers in the USA, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was a boon that came as a part of the 2018 Farm Bill, as it helped them reduce tobacco growing and diversify their crops. Signed by President Donald Trump, the 2018 Farm Bill slates hemp growing as a way to stimulate and diversify state economies while also reducing hemp product imports from the rest of the world, namely China. So far, farmers are happy with the change because hemp has proven highly resilient to pests, droughts, and frost, and requires no pesticide or GMO use.
H.R.5485 labels hemp as an “agricultural commodity” and strikes out all three above restrictions related to states overseeing hemp growers. H.R.5485 no longer requires states to have detailed procedures for the disposal of hemp plants, “whether growing or not”, meaning each state can simply inspect the final product for the presence of THC. Finally, H.R.5485 concludes with, “Nothing in this Act authorizes interference with the interstate commerce of hemp”, meaning that states can try to ban CBD and other hemp products, but they can’t prevent their shipping.
Federal regulations now consider hemp, which is a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC, as a regular plant, but states may still have holdover laws that punish hemp and its products as if they were rich in THC. It will take some time before state regulations on shipping CBD in the USA become synchronized with H.R.5485 so that all USA-based buyers of CBD products can enjoy the same privilege of unrestrained CBD shipping. In the meantime, as long as the THC content of any given product is less than 0.3%, there shouldn’t be a problem.
In the EU, an administrative system similar to the federal one in the USA exists. Countries with different laws are overseen by EU bodies. These bodies attempt to “harmonize the internal market” while leaving enough autonomy for member states to enact the overarching regulation without having to rewrite the entire legal system. In this way, the EU bodies intend to instill consumer confidence, promote the “Made in EU” brand and provide a solid legal framework for companies without having to lord over each state. When it comes to EU regulations on shipping CBD, advisory committees report to the EU bodies, which then issue harmonization directives. In the case of CBD, only a single repealed EU Council Directive exists, so only advisory committee reports and individual state legislation remain.
In July 2000, the EU Council issued Directive 32000R1672, which aimed to establish a support system for hemp growers. This directive states that, “For hemp grown for fibre, the area payment shall also be made only where the varieties used have a tetrahydrocannabinol content not exceeding 0,2%”. Across other EU bodies’ directives, we see the same requirement for hemp to contain no more that 0.2% THC. Otherwise, each member state can introduce its own hemp control system.
The Summary Record of Meeting of 30 April 2012 from the Standing Committee on Food noted that “such foods are regulated by the (EU) General Food Law, health legislation and drug law. [The vast majority of Member States] allow the use of cannabis extracts in foods provided that their active substances cannot be detected or their Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level is insignificant”.
Finally, the EU Novel Food Catalogue lists all foods that weren’t consumed in the EU before May 15, 1997, meaning they warrant a safety investigation before being sold on the EU market. If you search for “cannabidiol” or “cannabinoids” in the catalog, you’ll see a paragraph stating that “before it may be placed on the market in the EU as a food or food ingredient, a safety assessment under the Novel Food Regulation is required.”
In short, there are no overarching EU regulations governing the shipping of CBD products, but each EU state may decide to prosecute CBD product purchasers depending on how zealously it enforces marijuana laws and how rigidly it bundles hemp and marijuana together. For example, marijuana is illegal in Germany, but prosecution is often dropped for small amounts intended for personal use.
Nearly every country in the world has strict rules governing the growth, sale and use of Cannabis plants and their extracts. Cannabinoids are subject to extensive policing, mainly due to the psychoactive effects of THC. However, there is a ray of hope, especially since the USA removed numerous restrictions related to hemp growing, which means other countries around the world will likely follow suit.
In the EU, products containing more than 0.2% THC aren’t allowed on the market, but the law is unclear with regards to buying and shipping CBD products from other countries for personal use. Almost all EU countries lump hemp and marijuana together, banning them and their extracts without any consideration to potential benefits, but might allow exceptions for personal use. EU purchasers of CBD products are in legal uncharted waters, which can open them to policing and scrutiny until such time as CBD is decriminalized.
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