The longstanding PACT Act was amended in 2020 to include all vaporization products, creating havoc for cannabis brands and ancillary suppliers.
Vaporization first hit the smoking scene as a supposedly healthier response to nicotine and cannabis combustion. Instead of lighting up to ingest tar and ash-producing byproducts, vaporizers are activated at a lower temperature, sparing users the toxic mess created by inhaling smoke.
Over the years, e-cigarettes, ground flower vapes, and eventually, interchangeable pre-filled vape cartridges quickly took over huge sections of the smoking market. As the vaping market grew though, the vape revolution quickly saw its own share of controversy, concern, and heavy-handed regulation. Now, after a short-lived public uproar about the effects of nicotine vapes like Juul being sold to underage users paired with the black-market THC cartridge-fueled rash of lung illness, a new federally-imposed restriction on how USPS ships vaporizers and accessories is shaking up the entire vape industry.
In December 2020, then-president Donald Trump signed a massive COVID-19 relief bill that included direct payments to the American public, expanded unemployment benefits, and much, much more. Tucked deep into the 5,000 page document – yup, 5,000 pages – was the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act. The legislation served to amend a longstanding law meant to prevent the untaxed sale of tobacco products, the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, to include any and all vaping products and accessories.
Under the new regulations, any company or person who “sells, transfers, or ships for profit” any – and they do mean any – vaporization product must register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and must track and keep records of every single sale they make, reporting that data to state-level tax officials who will assure proper taxation, as well.
The most notable aspect of the PACT Act’s vaping update, though, is all about shipping. In addition to the tighter regulations on taxation and sales, the new federal oversight restricts the United States Postal Service from shipping any vape products directly to consumers. So if you are used to buying CBD vape cartridges or the latest vape pens online and having them dropped at your doorstep by your local mailman, that is no longer an option.
Ahead of implementing the rules, USPS officials released a statement reminding cannabis companies that even business-to-business sales of fully legal CBD hemp products would now require significantly more paperwork and red tape.
“For hemp-based products containing CBD with a THC concentration not exceeding 0.3 percent, mailers must retain, and prepare to make available upon request, records establishing compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws pertaining to hemp production, processing, distribution, and sales, including the Agricultural Act of 2014 and the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018,” USPS said. “Such records may include laboratory test results, licenses, and compliance reports.”
As soon as USPS announced its new anti-vape distribution rule in March 2021, the nation’s other major delivery companies, UPS, FedEx, and DHL, issued their own updated regulations putting the kibosh on direct-to-consumer vape transport.
“Effective April 5, 2021, UPS will not transport vaping products to, from, or within the United States due to the increased complexity to ship those products,” a company spokesperson told Vaping360.
Cannabis brands looking to source cartridge or battery hardware for their products and accessory companies distributing vaporizers directly are all feeling the effects.
PuffCo, the makers of the incredibly popular Peak digital dab rig and other hi-tech vaporizers, issued a statement on Instagram urging the brand’s supporters to contact lawmakers about rescinding the ban, and said that they are now working with new shipping partners, potentially adding delays to customer deliveries.
“Our new shipping partners are working to deliver your products as quickly as possible, but they simply don’t have the capacity to deliver with the same efficiency as our former carriers.” the PuffCo Instagram post reads. “We ask for your patience if you are currently waiting for your order as our shipping partners work to process them.”
At Greenlane, a major cannabis accessories producer and distributor, the company’s most recent financial report included a warning that the new law could have a disastrous effect on future business.
“Substantial uncertainty exists regarding which products may not be shipped pursuant to the PACT Act and the policies of FedEx and UPS,” the company wrote in its latest financial filing. “In the event USPS, FedEx, or UPS determine that their bans apply broadly to all or almost all vaporizers, our shipping costs will be adversely and materially impacted, and we could lose our ability to deliver products to customers in a timely and economical manner. We are unable to determine the extent of the impact to the business until further guidance and clarification is issued.”
It is still not clear what kind of enforcement measures will be taken against manufacturers and distributors who try to flaunt the new vape restrictions, either by skipping ATF check-ins or attempting to discreetly ship banned vapes. On the heels of the vape cartridge illness outbreak and persistent concerns about youth nicotine vape consumption, it doesn’t seem that vape companies of any sort will be catching any breaks from government regulators anytime soon.