The explosion of CBD products in the marketplace and the growth of industrial hemp materials is attracting entrepreneurs and retailers. Yet, since legalization, hemp industry operators consistently run into new problems. One such problem is hemp transportation from business to business.

Compliance in the hemp industry is driven by a patchwork of regulations set by various federal agencies and state organizations. The hemp industry’s nature of rapid changes and regulatory complexity may pose challenges for businesses trying to keep up with new compliance standards. Moreover, federal and state laws don’t always agree on what is considered “legal” concerning hemp.

For hemp farmers, there is perhaps no worse scenario than having a harvest confiscated during transport. The cost and expense of growing wiped out by seizure and destruction of your harvest due to transport to a customer, crossing state lines and hemp legality boundaries.

Legal Status of Hemp

Hemp was federally legalized in the U.S. with the 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation states any cannabis sativa plant which contains less than 0.3% THC is legally considered “hemp.” Under this federal guidance, farmers can grow crops for CBD flowers as well as the stalks of industrial hemp.

At this stage, industrial hemp has more clarity in the state and federal legislation than hemp grown for CBD. This is largely due to waiting on new CBD product regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Hemp businesses must carefully navigate and adhere to both the federal regulations of the industry and the laws required by specific states. These state laws are rarely in agreement with one another and don’t always align with federal guidance. To illustrate, many U.S. states consider hemp to be legal with less than 0.3% THC (like the federal government), while others require a 0% THC content.

As confusing as the legal hemp industry is, there are some safeguards as long as the grower is operating within the state’s legal restrictions and federal regulations.

Is Hemp Legal to Transport Across State Lines?

According to the federal government, it is legal to ship hemp across state lines, as long as the hemp, or hemp products, contain less than 0.3% THC. This applies to both shipping CBD hemp and transporting industrial hemp.

However, Federal law sometimes is overridden by state laws. Not only do different U.S. states have unique laws regarding CBD and THC, but some also have specific regulations on hemp shipping.

One of the primary dangers for shipping hemp is the hemp flowers closely resemble marijuana flowers. Hemp and marijuana flowers have similar structures, crystals, trichomes, and scents making it nearly impossible for police officers to tell the difference between legal hemp and illegal cannabis.

Some police departments may consider it to be easier to just confiscate a load of hemp rather than spend the resources testing the whole batch for THC content.

Non-hemp-friendly states pose their own threats to hemp companies looking to ship products. For instance, Idaho has unique laws concerning hemp. Namely, the state only considers CBD products legal if they are made from the stalks or seeds of plants – not the flowers. Additionally, Idaho is notorious for being quite strict on companies transporting hemp throughout the state. There have been some high-profile confiscations where entire hemp harvests have been confiscated.

Do You Need a Permit to Transport Hemp?

While the federal government does not issue a formal hemp transport permit, there are guidelines to follow to ensure shipments are federally compliant. Certain states do require hemp companies to acquire permits before shipping on their roads.

To remain compliant with federal law, hemp companies always include the following documentation with a hemp shipment:

  • Manifest that explains the details of the load
  • Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a 3rd party lab
  • Business licenses for all parties involved in the transaction
  • Contact information for important parties
  • Bill of Lading for the shipment
  • Phytosanitary Report — some states require this report to certify that the hemp shipment has been inspected in accordance to proper procedure.

It is also strongly recommended that drivers have a clean criminal background and an impeccable driving record. Having the right driver can help lessen police suspicion.

In addition to ensuring your hemp shipment meets federal compliance standards, also research states specific permitting process for those states you will be shipping through. These processes range from declaring your load at the state border, to attaining a hemp license. States that require additional permits are:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • New Mexico
  • Utah

Make your business as legitimate as possible when shipping hemp.

Remember, the hemp industry is always evolving, and doing consistent, diligent research on the changing state and federal laws is the most surefire way to remain compliant.

If your shipping route runs across a questionable state like Idaho, we recommend you avoid it entirely. In the end, it is worth an extra six to ten hours on the road to protect your hard work, investment, and drivers.

Aspen Cannabis Insurance is a family run business in Denver, CO servicing clients nationwide. We work with multiple insurance carriers to offer our customers a wide variety of risk reduction coverage at the lowest possible cost. We offer a wide range of personal, auto insurance, commercial and professional insurance to residential and commercial insurance customers enabling the cheapest rates available. Call to speak to one of our insurance advisors and see how painless insurance shopping can be.