No Update on When USPS Expects to Publish Vape Rules

The industry is still in flux. Many businesses closed or found more expensive shipping options. Some companies stopped shipping and then started again knowing that it could all end at any minute. As of this writing, however, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has yet to publish its final rule for mailing vaping products.

Credit: Tomasz Zajda

On April 19, the USPS issued guidance for exemptions to the requirements for mailing all vapor products, including cannabis. This was in response to the U.S. Congress placing electronic nicotine-delivery systems (ENDS) under the stringent mailing requirements of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act. That guidance only references that a rule could be published at any time and the ban on mailing vaping products to consumers would take effect immediately after the rule is published.

“A forthcoming final rule will determine whether electronic nicotine-delivery systems (ENDS) may continue to be mailed pursuant to certain statutory exceptions that are currently administered through an application process,” the guidance states. “Until the final rule is issued, ENDS are not subject to the PACT Act …”

Many businesses ended shipping to consumers on or before April 26, a day before the assumed effective date of the USPS rules. The comment period closed March 22 and the USPS stated that it had received “numerous comments” pertaining to its proposed ENDS mailing rules. An e-mail to USPS media relations did not receive a response by this writing.

The USPS is required to use a definition of ENDS so broadly that it can be interpreted to include and inhalable electronic delivery system for any product. These means restrictions also apply to ENDS products such as: “an e-cigarette; an e-hookah; an e-cigar; a vape pen; an advanced refillable personal vaporizer; an electronic pipe; and any component, liquid, part, or accessory of a device described [ENDS], without regard to whether the component, liquid, part, or accessory is sold separately from the device,” according to the law.

Many in the industry think Congress overreacted placing ENDS under the PACT Act requirements. The PACT Act was intended to stop manufacturers from avoiding taxes on combustible tobacco products, not keep them out of the hands of youth. Congress said it amended the PACT Act to protect kids from vaping. There has been no evidence that youth can easily purchase vaping products online.

This USPS says its just following the orders of Congress. It’s also turning out to be more complicated than just ending all vape mail. The USPS was inundated with exemption applications, none of which will be addressed until the final rule is published, according to the USPS.

“Despite our best efforts, in order to ensure thorough and thoughtful consideration of the complex issues and voluminous comments by industry, individual, and governmental stakeholders, the Postal Service is unable to publish a final rule by today’s target date,” said David P. Coleman, a USPS spokesperson, in an email to Marijuana Business Daily, adding that his agency would “finalize the rule as soon as possible” and “mailers should be prepared for implementation upon publication anytime.”