Before quietly and quickly stepping down on January 20, one of the last acts of former President Donald Trumps in office was to threaten the business models of the nicotine and marijuana vaporization industries.
And it is highly likely that neither Trump nor most members of Congress knew what they were doing.
WASHINGTON, DC: Former US President Donald Trump listens during a listening session on young people … [+] e-cigarette vaping on November 22, 2019 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC. One of Trump’s last acts was to sign a law that drastically restricts the ability of vaporizer companies to ship directly to consumers.
On December 27, 2020, just over a week before the deadly January 6 riots on the U.S. Capitol, Trump enacted the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
In addition to money for COVID-19 relief and to avoid government shutdown during the pandemic, the 5,000-page, $ 2.3 trillion spending bill included an update to the law on the prevention of cigarette trafficking (or PACT).
A ten-year-old law that makes shipping tobacco products via US couriers or private carriers like FedEx or DHL more expensive and more difficult, the PACT Act was drafted before the vaping craze, before JUUL with fresh mint and mango only became popular in high schools, and before the moral panics that accompanied it.
Several lawmakers, including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), have been trying for years to apply PACT Act restrictions to vaporizers.
The spending bill notoriously included many provisions unrelated to government spending or COVID-19 relief. As the National Law Review noted, this included most of the amendments to the PACT law that Feinstein and Cornyn had advocated. (One of their cosponsors: Former California Senator Kamala Harris, now Vice President.)
WASHINGTON, DC – March 18: US Vice President Kamala Harris, leading a recent virtual job … [+] Meet. As a California senator, Harris sponsored legislation that restricts the sending of vaporizers by mail, including private carriers.
Worse, after the law was passed, it was interpreted to include all vaping products. As of this spring, the previous rules and bans for sending cigarettes by mail now also apply to nicotine, hemp and cannabis vaporizers as well as their components: batteries, tanks and anything else you can think of.
It is important to note that it is still legal to ship tobacco products and vaporizers by courier. Businesses must verify the age of customers, register with law enforcement, and send state authorities a detailed list of all transactions and penalties that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) can impose on offenders are severe.
Most carriers have therefore chosen not to bother.
As of this month, the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, and other carriers are refusing to ship vaping devices, products, and accessories.
The last day to order JUUL pods directly from this company is April 21. (A company spokesperson declined to comment for this article.)
JUUL, a massive company with a significant footprint in physical retailers, is likely to be fine.
But many small companies that do direct sales to consumers, including, in the vast tent of the cannabis industry, the suppliers of legal hemp vaporizers as well as generic vaporizer components are now struggling to find a reliable way. and affordable to reach consumers.
Those who can’t downsize staff, downsize operations, raise prices or prepare for bankruptcy, industry officials said.
That’s not what Congress set out to do, said Shawn Hauser, Denver-based partner at Vicente Sederberg LLP and chairman of the cannabis law firm. The potential impact is really serious.
A Pax Era vaporizer used for cartridges containing marijuana concentrates. Owning legal in all 50 states, … [+] Shipping companies like UPS and FedEx are now refusing to process these products thanks to a new federal law signed by former President Donald Trump.
Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images
The irony is that when applied to cannabis and hemp vaporizers, the PACT Act directly contradicts other areas of law, including the Farm Bill of 2018, which largely legalized both cannabis derivatives. hemp and their shipment by courier.
The US Postal Service will apparently continue to mail some hemp products, such as smokable hemp flowers. But suppliers of hemp-based vaporizer products, including cannabis products containing delta-8 THC, are all subject to new PACT bans.
Again, this does not mean that all of this is prohibited. It’s just trickier and more expensive. At the very least, it means a disruption of existing business models.
At least a quarter of retail vaporizer sales are currently made online, with products shipped direct to consumers, experts said.
The good news is that you should never underestimate American ingenuity, said Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a trade group that lobbies against rule changes. For some small logistics companies, this represents a profitable business opportunity.
The bad news is that if you are a small manufacturer or a retailer that does business in hundreds of packages a day you will have to work extremely hard to figure out how to stay in business, if you want to do things the legal way it is. added.
Some companies experienced in shipping sensitive or restricted goods, including firearms and ammunition, have already quietly integrated into the vaporizer industry, Conley said. He refused to name names.
Lobbyists and advocates for vaporizer companies affected by the expansion of the PACT Act are trying to get the attention of lawmakers as well as the U.S. Postal Service, which was accepting public comment on the rule changes until Monday.
It is hoped that the law will be amended or clarified to at least allow some use of US couriers to ship certain products.
But Conley noted a disturbing and depressing parallel: Some of the promoters of the laws, including Cornyn and Feinstein, were also longtime advocates of the war on drugs.
And now the war on drugs is coming for nicotine, he said. Since we wanted to somehow remove the chains of the worst offenses in the war on drugs, we were looking to start a new one with nicotine.
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