challenges of hemp transportation

The new national hemp industry has brought with it a wave of excitement for business owners. Whether it be with CBD products or industrial hemp materials, entrepreneurs are flocking to this business with big dreams and high hopes.
Yet, as the hemp industry has taken shape since legalization, operators consistently run into new problems. A significant “growing pain” includes hemp transportation from business to business, which has posed notable issues for certain operators.

Compliance in the hemp industry is driven by a patchwork of regulations set forth 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 your prized harvest confiscated during transport. To help ensure the safety of your harvest, we’re here to walk you through the ins and outs of hemp shipping.

The Current 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 the fact we are still waiting on regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning CBD products.

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 only can be, there is hope that comes with a bit of research and education. So long as you are operating within your state’s legal restrictions and federal regulations, transporting industrial hemp can be a streamlined and stress-free endeavor.

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 your hemp, or hemp products, contain less than 0.3% THC, they are considered legal on a federal level. This notion applies to shipping CBD hemp and transporting industrial hemp.

Regardless of a clear stance by the federal government, there remains a good deal of confusion for shipping hemp across state lines. This uncertainty comes from the confusing patchwork of hemp laws set forth by different U.S. states. 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 reasons that shipping hemp is risky is that hemp flowers closely resemble marijuana flowers. Hemp and marijuana flowers have similar structures, crystals, trichomes, and scents. Therefore, it is nearly impossible for police officers to tell the difference between legal hemp and illegal cannabis. For some police, it might be easier to confiscate a load of hemp than spend the resources in 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. To this end, there have been some high-profile confiscations where entire hemp harvests have been lost.


Do You Need a Permit to Transport Hemp?

While the federal government does not issue a formal hemp transport permit, there are guidelines you must follow to ensure that your shipment is federally compliant. Moreover, certain states require hemp companies to acquire permits before shipping on their roads.

To remain compliant with federal law, hemp companies should take careful steps when transporting their products. You should 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.

We also recommend that your driver has a clean criminal background and an impeccable driving record. By hiring the right driver, you can help lessen the suspicion of police officers in the event of an incident.

Beyond ensuring your hemp shipment meets federal compliance standards, you should also research which states your shipment will be traveling through as certain states have their own permitting processes for shipping hemp. These processes range from declaring your load at the state border, to attaining a hemp license. States that require additional permits are as follows:

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

To best ensure the safety of your hemp shipment, you should research the above states and follow their permitting protocol. In the end, you want to make your business as legitimate as possible when shipping hemp.

Make Successful Hemp Shipping a Reality

At High Grade Hemp Seed, we strongly recommend that you do your homework before shipping a harvest. This process involves taking the appropriate steps for federal compliance, such as sending a COA and Bill of Lading with your driver. These steps also include researching individual state markets. 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.