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Mailing Hemp: Best Practices to Legally Mail Hemp to Testing Labs

ByTrichome Team

November 25, 2020

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hemp cultivators, processors and retailers know how important it is to have a holistic understanding of their hemp—from its cannabinoid potency and terpene profile to ensuring there’s no microbial contamination or pesticide residue.  

Testing for the purposes of R&D (think cannabinoid potency and terpene profiling) and quality assurance (microbial contamination, pesticide residue, residual solvents, heavy metals and the like) should always be carried out by a reputable lab with specific experience helping hemp industry professionals understand their product. 

Once you’ve identified a lab to carry out the tests you need, there’s another hurdle to leap over: Getting your hemp samples there legally. We’ll walk through guidelines set forth by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for mailing hemp, chain of custody forms, and hemp sample requirements based on the desired test. 

It’s important to note that private courier companies such as UPS, FedEx and others have varying policies about hemp. For the purposes of this blog, we are only addressing USPS directives.

The USPS Policy On Mailing Hemp

The USPS has outlined specific regulations for mailing hemp or “hemp-based products” such as CBD tinctures, topicals, etc., that align with potency standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—as long as the product is grown and handled legally, and contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight, it can be mailed. (In the case of pre-harvest potency compliance testing, samples must have required chain-of-custody documentation. More on that below.)

Here’s the specific language from the USPS: 

“Hemp and hemp-based products, including cannabidiol (CBD) with the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of such hemp (or its derivatives) not exceeding a 0.3 percent limit are permitted to be mailed only when:

a. The mailer complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws (such as the Agricultural Act of 2014 and the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018) pertaining to hemp production, processing, distribution, and sales; and

b. The mailer retains records establishing compliance with such laws, including laboratory test results, licenses, or compliance reports, for no less than 2 years after the date of mailing.”

While mailing hemp and CBD products that fit those specifications is legal, it’s important to make very clear that whatever you’re mailing falls within those guidelines. After all, there’s no way for a postal worker or enforcement officer to know just by looking at a package that it contains legal, compliant material—that’s why we recommend including a letter with your sample that includes information about the product, where it’s being sent and for what purposes. Trichome Analytical has an example of this type of letter here

Remember: Cannabis products that contain more than 0.3% THC or are not grown or produced under federally legal circumstances should never be mailed via the USPS. 

Mailing Hemp: Sample Size and Chain of Custody Forms

The amount of hemp to mail depends on the tests you require. At Trichome Analytical, we offer several individual tests and comprehensive panels

For example, for cannabinoid potency analysis, 10 grams of wet hemp (that is, freshly cut hemp) or 3 grams of dry (hemp that has been harvested and then dried) is required. 

We also test hemp extracts and infused products. We require 1 gram for potency analysis for extracts, 8 grams for solid infused products and 5 grams for liquid infused products. This table has more information regarding the required sample sizes for each test based on whether the sample is plant material, extract or infused product. 

Once you determine which analyses you require and the amount of product needed for each, fill out the chain of custody form your lab provides. On this form, you’ll designate which tests you want, what material you’re sending and your requested turnaround time. For post-harvest or quality control analysis, operators can submit samples directly to the lab. 

For pre-harvest USDA compliant hemp testing (that is, testing to ensure your hemp crop falls below the 0.3% threshold for THC potency), you’ll need a different chain of custody form from your designated lab—it requires a bit more information, like your state-provided license number. Note that samples for pre-harvest compliance must be collected by a registered federal, state or tribal sampling agent—not the cultivator themself. However, cultivators may designate their chosen lab for sample testing. The sampling agent and the cultivator fill out the pre-harvest analysis chain of custody form together, and the sampling agent ensures that the hemp sample is sent to the designated testing facility using priority or overnight mail. 

Pre-harvest hemp samples should be in paper bags, but post-harvest samples can be sent in jars or plastic bags. 

Dropping Off Hemp Samples

We can receive hemp product samples for post-harvest or QA analysis from any authorized cultivator, processor or retailer across the U.S. 

Because Trichome Analytical is registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and has received ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accreditation, we can accept pre-harvest samples for USDA-compliant hemp analysis.  

DEA registration also means we can receive hemp samples for drop-off for both pre-harvest compliance analysis and other hemp testing services. 

Follow the same process for collection of samples and chain of custody form as you would for mailing samples. Then, simply drop off your samples from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday at our laboratory: 

6000 Commerce Pkwy Suite I
Mt Laurel Township, NJ
08054

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