Having Vape Products Shipped by USPS, FedEx, UPS, and other popular couriers
Whether you're a retailer or consumer, online operations offer a highly convenient way of doing business, not least in the post-coronavirus era. The vape industry isn't any different, but it is a sector where the practical logistics of choosing a courier or delivery service is only a part of the equation. Given the nature of the materials in question, the legalities need to be considered too.
Recent regulation changes have caused a little confusion. Here’s all you need to know about the legality of having vape and CBD products shipped via UPS, FedEx, and more.
The New PACT Act Regulations
It should not be forgotten that the widespread legalization and growing popularity of vaping and CBD products are still in their relative infancy. As such, the industry's landscape is continually evolving. While the proposed medicinal and recreational benefits of vaping are
The Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act came into effect in 2019, signaling a conscious effort to protect youngsters from gaining unlawful access to vaping products. However, preventing potential dangers for kids isn't the only issue on the government's plan. While online shopping does provide convenience for consumers, it also poses ways to circumnavigate dosage limits, which is another possible threat for the industry.
In late December 2020, another bill was passed to update the regulations, meaning that the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act now extends to cover vaping products, including non-combustible liquid or gel. Despite being primarily targeted towards nicotine products, the blanket coverage means that the legislation also restricts non-nicotine items.
Most notable, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) now prohibits shipping all vaping products to residential addresses. As such, retailers and online CBD dispensaries are forced to find alternatives. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as it once was.
What It Means For Retailers
While enterprise or business to business (B2B) sales and distribution through the Post Service and other couriers should not pose too many difficulties, retailers who facilitate online enterprise sales face several challenges.
For starters, retailers must now register with the U.S. Attorney General while also implementing age-verification systems to satisfy the prevention of sales to children regulations. In addition to being forced to use a third-party private courier, retailers can only partner with companies that require a signature upon delivery.
As was already the case, retailers must also respect the differentiating regulations from state to state, making interstate sales more challenging to facilitate.
The fact that the legislation focuses on nicotine vaping rather than CBD vaping shows that the government is open to accepting the latter's popularity and safety. Nevertheless, it does mean that most vape companies and retailers find themselves needing to revisit their order fulfillment protocols - not least because some of the biggest couriers have moved the goalposts even further.
Both UPS And FedEx Stop Vaping Services
Following the rule changes that officially come into effect at the end of March, the USPS has 120 days to verify its new rulings. However, some private companies have already made their moves by confirming that they will no longer offer vape mail and delivery services.
UPS has already confirmed that effective April 5, it will prohibit all shipments of vape products. This is a significant change to the previous protocols that compliant retailers' loads as per its Tobacco Product Shipments protocols.
The UPS prohibition completes a trio of major private couriers that no longer accept vape products after FedEx introduced a new policy on March 1. DHL had already banned shipments of vape products from China as early as 2014 while excluding all domestic retail shipments of e-cigarettes and nicotine-containing products before the latest legislation changes were announced.
Consequently, the opportunities to ship vaping products, including CBD e-liquids and e-cigarette accessories, have been significantly compromised for online retailers and dispensaries of all sizes from coast to coast.
Should It Be A Surprise?
In truth, the clampdown is something that has been brewing for some time. While the 2019 Act regarding sales to children didn’t worry many retailers at the time, it was a clear indication of things to come. Tellingly, as already touched upon, it is somewhat reflective of the tobacco industry.
For example, UPS has not allowed shipments of cigarettes or little cigars to consumers in any state for some time. Similarly, the 18 U.S. Code § 1716E puts a significant restriction on tobacco delivery through the USPS and private couriers alike. The Jenkins Act was agreed to in 1949. While it has since been replaced by the laws mentioned above, it highlights the government's approach to responsible selling and delivery of cigarettes.
Consequently, there should be little surprise that E-cigarettes are following suit.
Is It Game Over?
While the online vape sector has been dealt a massive blow, it shouldn’t spell the end for retailers. For starters, they still have the opportunity to sell products to in-store visitors. Nonetheless, it can be accepted that some companies won’t survive. After all, retailers face the threat of a three-year jail sentence and company closure. It means that navigating the regulations in a compliant manner is the only option.
However, on a brighter note, that does naturally mean that the remaining dispensaries may stand to see even quicker growth than once anticipated. After all, the CBD vape industry continues to grow at a rapid rate of around 6.44% year-on-year. When combined with a reduced level of competition, both generally and explicitly concerning online sales delivered by couriers, the opportunities to thrive are tremendous.
Retailers are actively uniting to find ways to retain the ability to sell to a substantial online client base, particularly given the impact of Covid-19 on consumer shopping habits. The next few months could be difficult, but retailers should know that the possibility of online selling exists. And for consumers, using professional outlets ensures legal deliveries and certified CBD goods time and time again.