image of a vape pen

Months of delay on a U.S. ban on shipping vape components has marijuana and hemp operators wondering if they should prepare for seismic shocks to their business models or proceed as usual and hope the ban never takes effect.

The ban was supposed to kick in last spring, the result of a 2020 law that prohibits the U.S. Postal Service from shipping vaping products. The ban included products without nicotine and could eliminate direct-to-consumer vape shipping.

But in April, when the USPS said it planned to publish details on enforcing the ban, the agency said it needed more time to review public comments.

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“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 the April target date, spokesman David P. Coleman wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.

Three months later, the rule remains unpublished.

The delay is frustrating for marijuana operators who ship vape products. (Marijuana products can’t legally be shipped in the U.S., though empty cartridges and batteries are commonly mailed to businesses and consumers who then fill them with liquid THC.)

“We sell empty hardware. We’re not a cigarette. But we all got swept up in this,” said Dana E. Shoched, owner of O2Vape in Lambertville, Michigan.

Shoched and other vape manufacturers say they have pivoted to private delivery to continue business without using the mail.

Large private delivery services such FedEx and UPS have already stopped vape components shipments in response to the law, forcing vape manufacturers to find niche transport operators.

Earlier this month, roughly 400 vape companies appealed to FedEx to reverse its delivery ban, but to no avail.

“Without the option to order vaping products at wholesale or ship their products to consumers, vape stores have seen their shipping options skyrocket in cost or evaporate entirely,” the companies wrote in an appeal first reported by Filter, a New York news agency that covers global drug policy.

O2Vape’s Shoched told MJBizDaily that her suppliers face significant delays and higher costs.

“In the middle of a global pandemic, when shipping is absolutely through the roof, instead of having something get here in three to four days, it can take three to four weeks to get here,” she said.

A New York vape manufacturer, The Blinc Group, told MJBizDaily that it uses private delivery services to avoid delays.

“We have worked with our clients to get around the uncertainty by only using private shipping companies and by delivering in pallets, not individual products,” CEO Arnaud Dumas de Rauly said in a statement.

At Come Back Daily, a retailer selling hemp-derived products in New York City, co-founder Steven Phan says his shop is telling vape customers to prepare for hiccups.

“We’re just telling them that we’re watching this news and there’s a potential that we might not be able to have these things, or they’ll be harder to get or (have) delays in the supply chain,” Phan said.

Some vape operators who declined to speak on the record told MJBizDaily that they are proceeding as usual and hoping the rule never goes into effect.

The USPS had no update on when the final rule might be published.

“The comments we have received are still under review,” USPS spokesman Roy Betts told MJBizDaily via email. “No projected timeline for publishing the rule at this point.”

Kristen Nichols can be reached at kristen.nichols@hempindustrydaily.com.