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Can Marijuana or Edibles Be Legally Sent Through the Mail?

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CBD is now legal in much of the United States, but just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s available. If you can’t find delta-8 products near you, you may be wondering if marijuana, edibles, and other CBD products, such as CBD edibles Canada can be sent through the mail. 

The short answer is no 

The short answer is, no, you cannot send anything cannabis-related through the USPS mail service. Drugs of all kinds are prohibited in USPS packages. Cannabis is not an exception. 

Marijuana, regardless of form, is always illegal to send through the mail. It is a federal crime to possess marijuana, and it is a felony to send or receive it through the mail. Possession of 50 grammes or less can toss someone into federal prison. More weed leads to more jail time.

So, how do people get edibles when there aren’t any dispensaries around? There’s something of a legal loophole for hemp and CBD products, but not for marijuana. 

Hemp and marijuana are different; here’s why

US law distinguishes between hemp and marijuana; one is legal while the other isn’t. But anyone who Googles them will quickly learn they are the same plant. What’s going on? Why does the law make this distinction while science doesn’t?

The answer lies purely in the plant’s THC content. In 1979, Dr Ernest Small proposed the 0.3% THC content as the main distinguishing factor between harmless hemp and drug-grade marijuana. Small admitted that this was a somewhat arbitrary number, but the government picked it up and ran with it, so here we are. 

Putting it another way, imagine that you live in an apartment complex that allows dogs. Imagine that the landlord doesn’t allow dogs above a certain height or weight. That is the line between hemp and marijuana: they’ll allow some selectively bred varieties of the cannabis plant, but not others. 

The takeaway from this is that hemp is legal and marijuana isn’t, due to the difference in THC content.  Since most delta-8 comes from hemp, where does this leave delta-8-THC? 

THC limbo 

As of this writing (September 2022), delta-8-THC is not quite legal. It is federally legal because most delta-8 comes from hemp, not marijuana. But on a local level, there may be laws about making delta-8-THC. It is unregulated and has never been approved by the FDA. Any seller who tells you their delta-8 is FDA-approved is lying.

But what does this mean when it comes to sending delta-8 through the mail? The main deciding factor in legality is THC content, right? And yet most states will allow it to be shipped because it is hemp-based and not marijuana-based. That said, delta-8 is still only half-legal and should be treated that way when you are considering buying it. 

What about other services? 

With all the risk that comes with sending CBD products through the mail, some readers are probably wondering if UPS, FedEx, or DHL are safer. And we will be blunt with you: they are not. The USPS is ironically better for shipping drugs because it is a federal service.

Your mail is semi-protected at the post office thanks to the Fourth Amendment, which prevents the post office from searching your mail without probable cause. The moment you leave your package with a third-party service, you lose that Fourth Amendment protection. That means you could lose your weed and face criminal charges if someone at FedEx suspects your mail. 

UPS and FedEx also have explicit rules against shipping hemp or cannabis-derived products. They have been accused of collaborating with illegal drug trafficking in the past and will be on high alert for anything involving hemp. 

This is not to say that the post office is 100% safe. They will still open your package if it looks suspicious. The USPS offers rewards of around $50,000 to people who catch packages containing illegal drugs.

Takeaway

Even though cannabis is illegal to send through the mail in all forms, some CBD can slip by due to government regulations around THC. Marijuana and products containing a high amount of THC are almost certainly illegal and could lead to jail time. And even though delta-8 is quasi-legal due to coming from hemp, its THC content means that it is not legal to send through the mail. Anyone who wants cannabis products shipped to their doorstep must weigh the risks.

  • Your CBD gummies are fine if they meet government standards. 
  • Your marijuana is illegal. 
  • Your delta-8-THC is in a legal grey area.
  • The USPS is your safest route.  

A lot of this depends on the 0.3% listed earlier. If your delta-8 gummies are beneath that 0.3%, you are probably safe. But vapes, smokes, and even topicals with high THC content could lead to legal consequences if your package gets caught. Make sure the risk is worth the reward.


Zuella Montemayor did her degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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