At this point we’re all aware of the recent vape ban legislation that got squeezed into last year’s Omnibus bill for corona relief. And we’re all aware that main carriers like UPS, USPS, FedEx, and DHL will not be able to legally deliver vape products. But maybe not everyone is aware of how to get around these restrictions. Fear not, there are alternate options to get around the vape mail ban.
Is it the end of an era? As of April, USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL will no longer deliver vape products like delta-8 THC through the mail. Luckily, many companies are already working on new ways to get you your products, but until the kinks are worked out, best to stock up now. So, check out our awesome Delta-8 THC deals and let us send them out to you before the ban begins.
What is this vape mail ban?
Weirdly, it starts with the coronavirus, or rather, the coronavirus relief package called the ‘The December 2020 COVID Relief & Omnibus Spending Bill’. Though it sounds like this means the legislation would be purely related to the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, an ‘omnibus’ bill can include provisions that range many different topics. Because of the large field of coverage, these bills are not debated in congress, but voted on once and passed. For this reason, and because such random things can be stuck in, these bills have often been used to hide unpopular legislation from the public, or rush through laws under the cover of night.
As part of this omnibus bill is the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, aka the Vape Mail Ban, which technically had already passed both sides of congress by July 2020, though in a different form. Not too many businesses seemed flustered by it at the time, but that’s probably because then-president Trump had not been for it, though he later signed the omnibus bill, making it a law.
There are two main provisions of this new law. The first is an instruction to USPS (US postal service) to create regulations that ban the shipment of any and all vape products to any US residential address. The second provision puts ‘vaping products’ into the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT). This new Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act works outside of the FDA’s standard tobacco and vaping regulations, and broadens the definition of vape product to include everything including: e-juices, vapes, CBD vapes, delta-8 THC, vape replacement parts, paraphernalia, and literally any device that can be used to vape anything, and everything it could possibly vape. This bill did not come from the FDA, but from the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
What does the ban cover?
After the law passed, the three major private shipping companies: FedEx, DHL, and UPS also stated they would comply with this new ban, and stop shipping vape products like e-juice or delta-8 THC vapes through the mail to either residential homes or businesses. DHL had already banned the shipment of such items, and both UPS and FedEx claimed they’d be done with it by April 5th.
USPS published a proposed rule to cover its requirement, called the ‘Treatment of E-Cigarettes in the Mail’ to the Federal Register, and left a 31-day window for public comment, with a final rule expected to take effect by March 27th. As part of the proposed regulation, USPS would add vape products to its already existing set of rules related to mailing tobacco products, however with small changes so that vape purchasers won’t be affected. The law would ban shipments from companies to residences, and make it difficult to ship from company to company.
Weirdly enough, the existing laws already have an exception in place that allows regular residents the ability to send up to 10 packages a month through the mail containing tobacco or smokeless tobacco products to other residents or businesses. The intention is for sending gifts or returning defective products to manufacturers. It’s stipulated that the packages must be under 10 ounces, and senders must follow very specific rules. It is assumed that this exception will also apply to vaping products, although this is not known yet.
The previously mentioned PACT Act was actually an amendment in 2009 to the already existent 1949 Jenkins Act. The main reason for passage of PACT was to diminish online sales of untaxed tobacco products. The law already prohibits sending cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products through US mail services, apart from online sellers who are fully registered with the ATF and local taxing agencies.
As part of PACT, online sellers are mandated to report earnings to state and federal authorities and pay taxes, and private delivery services are required to follow standards for tobacco delivery. The PACT Act’s main goal was to close tax loopholes, and enforce compliance of tax payments. This time around, with the inclusion of vaping products, the stated intention is to prevent minors from purchasing products online, though it sounds like more of the same as PACT.
Wait, it gets even worse
Not only does the vape ban make it nearly impossible for vape products to get shipped to residential addresses, it makes it just as difficult for brick-and-mortar retailers. The private shipping companies FedEx, UPS, and DHL will also not deliver packages to companies, and there is no USPS exception for companies as of yet, although the final rule could involve one. Even if it does, the other restrictions and requirements mean a likely more expensive and time-consuming shipping process.
To give an idea of the restrictions put on companies in order to make shipments, they need to give the address and name of every business they will send to, and update it for any new additions before anything can be delivered. All customer licenses must be given, specific post offices must be named for shipping and only those branches used, all packages must be carried into the post office physically, and processed in person. There are tons of other little requirements that must be attended to. Think about what this means for a large supplier who makes many shipments. Manufacturers and suppliers are getting screwed by this too.
Is this really a ban?
No, not even close. In fact, it sounds to be an extension of PACT in terms of closing tax loopholes and collecting untapped tax revenue. An actual ban wouldn’t passive-aggressively block the consumer from the product, it would make the product, production of it, and its sale and use, illegal. None of this happened. To get more into it, this ban doesn’t even ban shipment of any of the products mentioned, so long as the company checks the following boxes:
- Verify the age of customers
- Use only private shipping services that collect a signature from an adult only, at the point of delivery
- Register with the US Attorney General, and the ATF
- Register with all state and local tax administration offices, in all places business is conducted
- Collect and pay taxes, with required tax stamps attached to products sold
- Send a list of transactions monthly to state tax administrators with the names and addresses of consumers, what they bought and in what quantity, as well as the name, address, and telephone number of whoever delivers the package
If it hasn’t sunk in yet, the only vape products that will be available through the mail, will require you to have all your information – both private about yourself, and about what you’re purchasing – sent to the government. So no, it’s not a ban. A ban wouldn’t allow for legal sales. And just so you know what the company you want to buy from is dealing with, PACT comes with strict standards and penalties for those who break the law. This can include large fines as well as federal prison time.
Plus, each state will have its own requirements for companies that do business within it, meaning that business owners must follow the differing protocols for every state they deal with. This can even mean forcing business owners to collect sales or excise taxes in some places, which would raise the price of products. These tax collection requirements may be a large reason for many small enterprises to fail once the ban begins. It’s analogous to a large company bleeding out a smaller company in court by burying them in motions until they don’t have the time/money/people to get the job done.
Get around the vape mail ban to get your delta-8 THC vapes and other smoking items
New laws tend to create new trends, and that’s what’s happening now as companies look for ways to get around the vape mail ban. Whether you’re trying to get nicotine cartridges, delta-8 THC, or a new vape, there are ways to do it through the mail. For one thing, large tax compliance companies are already creating software to aid online vape product enterprises. So far, only one exists, but the ban hasn’t even gone into effect yet.
IGEN, a Wisconsin-based tax compliance firm provides a software for companies that exist in fields with heavy regulation like tobacco, firearms, oil, etc. IGEN provides a service that integrates tons of different tax and legal information for all locations, but might not be cost-effective for smaller companies. I expect within a year, plenty more options will be available with lots of different price points. This service doesn’t so much get a company around the ban, but helps them integrate with it.
Another possible option for how to get around the vape mail ban is a new partnership between a private company and a national and residential shipping agency known simply as X. The company is in the process of building a vape product delivery network that can service residential customers. What areas will be covered, and what companies are involved are still unknown, but chances are, if X thought to do it, so will other companies.
This will also add an extra fee, on top of the tax collection that will invariably raise prices. Once again, just like IGEN, this doesn’t get around the ban, so much as provide a way for companies to more easily work with it’s regulations. While companies of this nature might start small in scale, the end goal is to reach as many customers in general, with expansion intended over time. Building a network like this is not easy. Larger locations with more people and more orders will be the first to be served, just like bigger companies with more purchases will be the first onboard.
Then there’s the freight industry, which is a conglomeration of national, regional, and local carriers. Vaping companies can build networks within this industry depending on willingness by particular companies to be involved, and institute logistical systems to keep track of shipping and tax information. It takes time, of course, but once established, this could provide a strong backing for the industry that can’t be broken as easily. It’s even possible for a national freight system to be established as a result of this. The company VapeFreight is described by owner Michael Wittenberg as being a “complete B2B shipping solution for the vape industry.” 5,000 carriers are already involved in the service, and Wittenberg said that while they currently ship LTL and freight, that they’ll be adding parcel very soon.
Another possible option to get around the vape mail ban are all those other smaller shipping companies that have been popping up in the last few years. Take uShip for example, which seems to really want to take this business. uShip doesn’t seem to have an issue with the requirements, and is using the new law to attract business to themselves, offering parcel and LTL delivery services. Here, the company is already setting itself up to be a new delivery method for tobacco and vape products, and represents one of the best ways to get around the vape mail ban.
Last but not least is ShipStation, another smaller shipping company like uShip which is looking to put together something to provide merchants with different options. They are asking merchants to contact them here to hear individual issues, so they can provide individualized solutions. It seems like they are working on a bigger answer to the problem, but are currently collecting information and trying to help businesses one-by-one.
If you want to get around the vape mail ban, it won’t be easy. And simply getting around it doesn’t mean not having to pay exorbitant fees, and raise product prices. When I look at the landscape, though, it’s actually very promising. Before the ban has even gone into effect, companies have started to look for workarounds, and find other ways. In fact, smaller shipping services might be the biggest winners, as well as a tech industry that’s always ready to find a new solution. Plus, once supply issues are figured out (and they likely will be soon), there is always the dispensary option for those who have one available.
And then of course, there’s the going DIY method. When cannabis became illegal, what did people do? They grew it themselves. Perhaps this is the start of a population of people who will learn how to process their own marijuana, create their own cannabis oil, and delta-8 THC, and perhaps not rely as much on government-run delivery services and regulation programs to get them their products. Maybe in the end, the vape mail ban will result in something good.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a medical professional, I have no formal legal education, and I’ve never been to business school. All information in my articles is sourced from other places, which are always referenced, and all opinions stated are mine, and are made clear to be mine. I am not giving anyone advise of any kind, in any capacity. I am more than happy to discuss topics, but should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a professional in the relevant field for more information.