The PACT Act Final Rule Has Been Released Prohibiting the Mailing of Cannabis/Hemp Vaporization Products. Is Your Business Ready?

By Rachel Kurtz-McAlaine, NCIA’s Deputy Director of Public Policy 

After months of delay, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has released its FINAL rule enforcing the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, effective October 21, 2021, and unfortunately, they are indeed applying it to cannabis/hemp vaporization products. The PACT Act has now made it extremely difficult for anything related to vaporization to be mailed, either business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C). Your business could be affected even if you are not mailing out products. Although this is a massive burden on the cannabis/hemp vape industry, there are ways to deal with it. NCIA remains vigilant in making sure the federal government understands this unnecessary hardship to the industry, and making sure our members are fully educated on this issue.

What is the PACT Act?

The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act went into effect June 29, 2010, applying strict regulations to the mailing and taxation of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, effectively banning the mailing of cigarettes unless authorized by an exception. With the rise of e-cigarettes, especially their popularity among youth, Congress decided that vaporization products should be included in those provisions. On December 27, 2020, Congress modified the definition of “cigarettes” to include Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), broadly defining ENDS to include nearly all vaporization products, regardless if they contain nicotine or are used for nicotine. Specifically:

“(1) any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device; and (2) any component, liquid, part, or accessory of an ENDS, regardless of whether sold separately from the device.”

When the USPS issued their notice of proposed rulemaking, they received more than 15,700 comments, with many expressing frustration with the broad interpretation of ENDS, so the USPS delayed issuing FINAL rules while it considered the practical application to the unique cannabis and hemp industries. NCIA was proud to submit comments with a broad coalition and to issue an action alert to get our members to express their concerns. 

In the meantime, the USPS issued a guidance document (“April 2021 Guidance”) (86 FR 20287) to help prepare businesses for the final rule and what documentation will be needed to apply for an exception. The exceptions include:

  • Intra-Alaska and Intra-Hawaii Mailings: Intrastate shipments within Alaska or Hawaii;
  • Business/Regulatory Purposes: Shipments between verified and authorized tobacco-industry businesses for business purposes, or between such businesses and federal or state agencies for regulatory purposes;
  • Certain Individuals: Lightweight, non-commercial shipments by adult individuals, limited to 10 shipments per 30-day period;
  • Consumer Testing: Limited shipments of cigarettes sent by verified and authorized manufacturers to adult smokers for consumer testing purposes; and
  • Public Health: Limited shipments of cigarettes by federal agencies for public health purposes under similar rules applied to manufacturers conducting consumer testing.

18 U.S.C. 1716E(b)(2)-(6). These exceptions are the ONLY way to mail these products moving forward. Unfortunately, the USPS was not accepting applications for exceptions until the final rule was published, but now that it has been published, it is time to apply for an exception.

FedEx and UPS have already banned delivering these products, so they are out as an alternative.

How can it affect me?

If you manufacture, sell, or buy vapor products, you will be affected. Manufacturers and distributors who use the mail to get their products to stores for resale (B2B) will have to apply for an exception through the USPS Pricing and Classification Service Center. If you are a business receiving these products, you will have to work with the business that mails it to you to be included in their exception as a recipient. If you are a retailer who delivers vaporization products to consumers via the mail, such as online retailers (B2C), you will also need to apply for an exception. If you buy the end products as a consumer, expect an increase in price because of the extra costs placed on the suppliers.

What should I do?

If your business has ANYTHING to do with the manufacture, delivery by mail, or retail of cannabis/hemp vaporization products, including liquids, batteries, empty cartridges, etc., you should get familiar with this final rule that is in effect as of October 21, 2021. The USPS spends the time addressing potential issues or suggestions from the comments it received, so any questions of why they did something are probably answered there.

You will also want to read the guidance document the USPS issued in the Spring that details if you qualify for an exception and how to apply for it. This will require cooperation between the mailer and the recipient, so make sure you are working with your supplier/retailer to get all the necessary information.

What is NCIA doing?

NCIA remains committed to making sure our members understand all of the legal ramifications and how to continue operations despite this rule. We continue to work with our coalition partners to better understand the effects and best practices, and will share with you as much information as possible to ease the transition via blog posts and webinars.

I will be participating in a webinar on November 9, 2021, that will be diving deeper into the PACT Act, how your business can operate with it, and how, if any, the tax considerations of the PACT act apply to cannabis/hemp businesses: PACT Act Leaves Vaping & CBD Industries in a Fog: The Latest Tax and Legal Considerations.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.


D.C. UPDATE: The November Election, What Comes Next, and Welcoming a New Staffer

By Michael Correia, NCIA Director of Government Affairs

As we come up on Halloween, I can’t think of a more fitting holiday to give a DC update (as most things coming out of Congress tends to scare us all!)

The election is just around the corner and, in addition to determining the make-up of Congress, there are four very important marijuana ballot initiatives voters will be deciding on. Voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. will be voting on some form of an adult-use, tax-and-regulate structure (similar to Colorado), and Florida voters will decide on legalizing medicinal marijuana. The passage of all four, in addition to being positive developments in the states, would certainly help our work in D.C. Members of Congress are self-interested and they care about their states and their districts. When more states legalize marijuana, it makes my job easier, as it forces more members of Congress to address the issue.

After the election, Congress will come back for a very short (two week) “lame-duck” session. In that time, they will vote on party leadership posts and determine committee chairs, in addition to funding the government. Because the two issues NCIA members care most about are 280E tax reform and resolving the banking issue, the committees of jurisdiction in the House are the Ways and Means Committee and the Financial Services Committee. In the House, it’s a near certainty Republicans will stay in control; so for Ways and Means, it’s looking like Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will be Chair, and for Financial Services, it’s looking like Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas will be Chair (although both will be challenged by other members). Neither of them have been supporters of marijuana policy reform in the past and have voted in opposition to our amendments when they were on the House Floor earlier this year.

Control of the Senate is still up in the air, and it will come down to 3 competitive seats. The results should be known soon after polling places close, but in Louisiana, if no candidate receives over 50%, then a run off election is held in December. So it is conceivable that control of the Senate may not be determined until December 7. Exciting times indeed! The committees of jurisdiction in the Senate are the Banking Committee and the Finance Committee, and Senate Chairmen are picked based on Committee seniority.

Halloween also happens to be my one-year anniversary with NCIA! And what a year it’s been. I feel as if so much has been done in the past year, but there is so much more to do. I look forward to the upcoming year and am even happier to say that our DC operation is expanding. NCIA has hired Michelle Rutter as our new government affairs coordinator. Having her on board will make me more efficient and effective in my job and will allow me to focus more on strategy, fundraising, advocacy, and taking NCIA to new levels.

Prior to working for NCIA, Michelle was a Research Analyst at a government affairs firm in Washington, DC, where she analyzed and tracked legislation on numerous issues. Michelle graduated from James Madison University in 2012, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in History. During her studies, she held a year-long internship with Virginia House of Delegates member Tony Wilt. There, she communicated with constituents, businesses, and government officials alike, facilitating meaningful conversations. Michelle was also a member of a pre-law fraternity where she planned events and hosted social functions that sought to encourage long-lasting professional and personal relationships with members. A native Virginian, Michelle currently resides in the Washington, DC, suburb of Alexandria, VA.

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