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U.S. Import and Export of Marijuana, Hemp and Paraphernalia: Webinar Recap



In case you missed our webinar this week, “U.S. Import and Export of Marijuana, Hemp and Paraphernalia”, the replay video is just above. And if you don’t have an hour to spare, below are highlights of what our cannabis and international trade lawyers had to say about the status and pitfalls of the international marijuana trade. 

U.S. companies are moving into international cannabis trade

Despite the current financial struggles for many U.S.-based cannabis companies, the international cannabis trade is growing. In particular, there’s a renewed demand internationally for hemp and hemp-derived products. Hemp seeds are seeing more traction on the international trade stage; and following on a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) letter last year, some companies have even begun to export seeds that will ultimately germinated into high-THC plants. Furthermore, otherwise illegal drug paraphernalia (under federal law) has been allowed to enter U.S. borders in certain cases

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and its derivatives, removing hemp from the definition of “marijuana” pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act. As a result, hemp and hemp-derived products, such as CBD, are no longer illegal controlled substances (so long as they contain no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC) and, therefore, now legal to import and export (see here and here for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidance on the topic). Don’t forget though that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes major issue with CBD in the food, beverage and supplements space, especially  regarding health and bodily claims under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.

How to import/export cannabis products to and from the U.S.

Know the international trade and cannabis laws and regulations at home and abroad, and don’t bother “port shopping”

In order to import/export cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia, you must know the applicable laws and regulations for the countries of origin and destination, including the specific requirements of customs and border agencies. Of course, in all countries, only specific types of cannabis products are going to be lawful: generally, hemp and hemp derivatives. Some countries dictate that hemp products cannot contain more than .1% THC (rather than the .3% we see here in the states). Others ban synthetic cannabinoids.

Be mindful that, for both import and export analysis, certain U.S. states restrict products that the federal government hasn’t banned, which could make even getting to a port challenging. Finally, As far as the U.S. goes, the concept of port-shopping for a friendlier point of entry (even in states that legalized medical or adult-use marijuana) won’t matter since customs/trade enforcement is centralized and state marijuana laws won’t be a priority anyway.

Pick a marijuana-friendly country for marijuana imports or exports

Medical marijuana import and export is exceedingly difficult in the U.S. and can only be done pursuant to DEA licenses. Companies able to pull import/export permits for medical marijuana in the U.S. are true unicorns, and much choose countries that are progressive when it comes to medical marijuana imports/exports. That list has considerably expanded over the years, and now includes at least Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Uruguay, Colombia, Israel, Jamaica, South Africa, Lesotho or Australia.

The U.S. has enhanced standards of operation for importers of record

Additionally in the U.S., among the myriad federal trade laws and regulations you must know, in addition to the hemp laws, U.S. trade laws place a legal burden on the importer of record to exercise “reasonable care” to make sure that imported products are accurately declared to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

CBP is the federal agency responsible for ensuring that imported goods are allowed to enter only if they are in compliance with all applicable U.S. laws and regulations. CBP coordinates with a wide range of partner government agencies (e.g., FDA, EPA, DOT, ATF, CPSC, etc.) that have expertise in the laws and regulations applicable to particular products. CBP coordinates with the DEA to implement and enforce the relevant provisions of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act which makes it a crime to bring controlled substances into the country without a proper license.

An indicator of an importer exercising reasonable care is when they seek assistance from a qualified expert who can assist this evaluation. We tell our clients that the gold standard for exercising reasonable care is when importers submit to CBP a formal ruling request for the product in question. Typically CBP ruling requests usually involve determining the appropriate tariff classification, valuation, or country of origin. CBP has issued plenty of rulings on whether products such as tobacco leaf wraps, water pipes, or grinders are drug paraphernalia. CBP has also issued tariff classification rulings on CBD oil and distillates and hemp biomass.

Hire knowledgeable people to help you get through the cannabis import and export process

A cannabis lawyer should not be dabbling in international trade law and vice versa. If you already have your knowledgeable cannabis lawyer, great. But you’re going to need an international trade expert, too.

Importing or exporting cannabis is a complex process to navigate. First, you must determine the permissibility of the import or export under existing controls. Such an endeavor generally requires working with an attorney experienced in international trade laws. When the product doesn’t appear on the Commerce Control List (CCL) — a set of standards determining whether an item can be shipped and where — a knowledgeable professional can help you move forward.

Articles on the CCL will have an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN)  based on their characteristics, which determines whether exporting them requires a license. In the absence of an ECCN, items may be designated as EAR99, which means exporting them does not call for specific licensure.

Items assigned an ECCN generally fall into categories such as electronics or technology, but it is still worthwhile to have an experienced legal expert review your product to ensure an ECCN does not apply. At that point, you can have your professional obtain a Commodity Classification Automated Tracking System (CCATS) number from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to give the product a formal classification.

Although not every circumstance requires it, a CCATS may provide assurances to finance partners, customs brokers and receiving entities by demonstrating that you went through the proper channels to export your product. That means it may be easier to find a suitable consignee in your destination and get the necessary permits.

Diligence your international cannabis trade partners

After obtaining a CCATS, exporters should conduct due diligence on any partner in the transaction and the ultimate product destination. Due to embargoes, export to Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran are impermissible except by explicit licensing from appropriate U.S. agencies. All parties to the transaction — including entities and their majority stakeholders — should also clear the restricted-parties lists with the BIS and the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The future of cannabis and marijuana paraphernalia imports/exports

Obviously, marijuana products (i.e., containing more than .3% delta-9 THC) are still federally illegal in the U.S. There is no lawful market for their import/export (with the exceptions blessed by the DEA mentioned above). However, hemp (including “marijuana” seeds) and hemp derived products are picking up speed in the international marijuana trade.

Overall, the process is complex and fraught with legal pitfalls. The international cannabis trade is nonetheless an opportunity for businesses to diversify and expand their reach across the globe. If you’re contemplating the import or export of cannabis or paraphernalia, you’re definitely onto something. Know the game and proceed with caution given the compliance obligations and everchanging dynamics of the international cannabis trade.

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Does Cannabis Cure Postpartum Depression? One Mom Swears It Did the Trick for Her!




cannabis for postpartum depression

Early pregnancy is rife with postpartum depression and other mood problems. We realize it’s an overstatement, but those first few days, weeks, and months are HARD. Sleep deprivation, aching, leaking, or engorged breasts… throw in mental health difficulties, and you have a recipe for total exhaustion.


Fortunately, there is less stigma associated with postpartum depression (PPD) than formerly. PPD is being discussed more frequently, and there is a better awareness of new parents’ symptoms and many remedies. Many moms are finding success with prioritizing rest, exercise, Vitamin D, and even using CBD to assist control anxiety when diagnosed and addressed early.

The Rise of CBD as a Postpartum Mood Disorder Remedy

Over the past few years, CBD has gained remarkable popularity as a remedy for addressing symptoms linked to postpartum mood disorders, such as anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Additionally, it has shown promise in supporting the physical recovery process following childbirth.


Georgeana Ortiz, the founder of the CBD company Cerena, emphasizes, “CBD serves as an excellent gateway, beckoning you to step away from the turmoil within your mind and transition into a composed and collected state of being. Ultimately, CBD is a pivotal component in facilitating your journey to move beyond self-imposed barriers and return to a state of thriving rather than merely surviving.”


While both THC and CBD are cannabinoids, CBD has no hallucinogenic effects. In other words, it won’t get you high. When selecting a CBD product, search for a high-quality, full-spectrum oil tailored to your needs or symptoms. Cerena, for example, makes a full-spectrum, certified organic CBD oil called “Calma” that’s expressly intended to relieve stress and anxiety.


Natasha’s Journey: From Postpartum Depression to CBD Advocate

In a noteworthy case, a woman claims to have treated her postpartum depression using cannabis oil. Natasha Doran, 33, began dealing with her mental health issues after giving birth to her son, Isaac, now four, in May 2019.


Despite attempting therapy and medication, she experienced “no improvement” in her severe daily panic attacks. After contacting her general practitioner, engaging in online therapy, and commencing antidepressant treatment, she felt “worse than ever.”


By June 2020, her ability to leave the house had deteriorated, and she was grappling with debilitating insomnia. At the suggestion of a friend, Natasha decided to give CBD oil a chance and made her initial online purchase of a 10ml bottle for £60.


Cannabidiol, a chemical compound in cannabis with purported medical benefits, became her solution. She started by taking a daily drop under her tongue, and soon, she noted a significant alleviation of her anxiety and depression symptoms.


Just six months after incorporating CBD into her routine, Natasha found herself back at the gym, enjoying restful nights and free from panic attacks. She was so impressed by the positive impact of the hemp product that she decided to start her own company, which she named Hemp-Aid Limited, in November 2022, leading her to leave her previous role at a nursery.


In Moreton on the Wirral, Natasha reflected, “She couldn’t sleep, and leaving the house was daunting. There were moments when she felt utterly hopeless. Initially skeptical, she conducted thorough research on CBD before giving it a try, despite initial reservations from her family.”


“After several months of incorporating CBD into her daily routine, she felt a renewed sense of purpose. She eagerly reconnected with friends, resumed gym visits, and arranged playdates for her son. In essence, CBD gave her life back.”


Despite a smooth pregnancy, Natasha had a “traumatic” childbirth experience with her first son at Whiston Hospital in Prescot, Lancashire. Isaac was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, and the resulting C-section led to severe pain due to blood clots. Reflecting on this period, Natasha, a former nursery manager, confessed that she lost herself after the birth.


She reflected that the surgery left her in considerable pain, which wasn’t the most auspicious start to her journey into motherhood. Following a hospital stay that lasted a week, Natasha soon found herself in profound depression after returning home with her newborn.


In her own words, Natasha explained that she initially thought her feelings were typical for a new mother. However, when she lost all motivation to venture outside, she recognized something was amiss. She felt compelled to act when concerned about her son Isaac’s social development due to her isolation.


After enduring four years of disappointment with traditional treatments, she confided in her partner, who suggested experimenting with CBD oil. Describing her experience, Natasha recounted that the impact was immediate.

She felt an incredible sense of relaxation and tranquility. She regained control over her heart rate and thought patterns, which was one of the best periods of sleep she had experienced in a long time.

She abstained from alcohol, which significantly contributed to her relief from depression. She now enjoys a profound sense of health and fitness. “I’ve never been this committed to a healthy lifestyle. After several months of incorporating CBD into her daily routine, she extensively researched improving her overall well-being.”


She continues incorporating CBD oil into her daily regimen and has taken it further by establishing her own company, Hemp Aid Limited. Natasha expressed her motivation, saying, “The health benefits are remarkable. CBD cured her post-natal depression when she felt utterly hopeless, and now she aspires to provide the same relief to others.


According to the NHS website, “some products claiming to be medical cannabis, such as CBD oil or hemp oil, are legally available to buy as food supplements from health stores.” However, there is no guarantee that products are of high quality or give any health benefits.”


“There is insufficient scientific evidence to support the claim that CBD is an effective treatment for depression or anxiety,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That isn’t to say it wouldn’t help, but there haven’t been enough well-controlled clinical research to support CBD as a treatment for anxiety or depression.Much more research is needed to assess CBD as a potential therapy for anxiety and depression.”


While CBD has shown promise in addressing various health issues, including postpartum depression, it is important to approach its use cautiously. The quality and effectiveness of CBD products can vary, and there is still a need for more comprehensive scientific research and clinical trials to establish its efficacy as a treatment for these conditions. Individuals considering CBD for mental health concerns should consult with healthcare professionals and make informed decisions regarding its use.





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Can You Mix Two Different Cannabis Strains Together and Smoke It? What Happens to Your High?




combining cannabis strains

While you’ve likely experienced smoking from a pipe or bowl with traces of a different weed strain, combining two strains isn’t typically the first choice for most people. The question is, can you deliberately craft distinct highs by combining different cannabis strains and experimenting like a scientist? Some individuals believe it’s possible, while others remain skeptical.


Blending different strains can enhance the renowned entourage effect of cannabis. This effect occurs when various components of cannabis synergize to create a potent high, surpassing the effects of consuming a single cannabinoid in isolation. The entourage effect leads many to argue that using just one cannabinoid for relaxation or therapeutic? What happens when you combine two cannabis strains isn’t as effective as consuming the entire plant, including its terpenes.


If you’re pursuing truly unique effects, mixing two strains can deliver just that, for better or worse. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that combining strains isn’t overly complex. While the outcome might range from a powerful high to one that tucks you in for the night, especially when you’ve acquired high-quality cannabis, there’s generally no reason to anticipate adverse consequences.

The Entourage Effect

While further research is essential, the existing knowledge suggests that when you blend specific cannabinoids and terpenes tailored to your body’s needs, it can result in a synergistic phenomenon known as the Entourage Effect. This effect can offer a more complete cannabis experience compared to consuming isolated cannabinoids such as THC or CBD.

This phenomenon is rooted in the fact that each of us possesses our internal endocannabinoid system (ECS), with the prefix “endo” indicating its presence within the body.


By blending two or more varieties of cannabis, you expand your body’s and endocannabinoid system’s exposure to a broader array of cannabinoids and terpenes. In doing so, you potentially unlock the health benefits associated with these additional compounds.

The advantages of mixing strains extend beyond simply enhancing potential medicinal benefits. Even recreational users can employ the concept of strain mixing to regulate the potency and effects of their cannabis consumption.


As an example, suppose a potent strain yields unwanted effects when consumed. Blending it with a strain featuring lower THC levels and elevated cannabidiol (CBD) content can alleviate some of these undesirable outcomes. CBD achieves this by diminishing THC’s tendency to bind strongly to cannabinoid receptors within our endocannabinoid system (ECS), thereby assisting in reducing any adverse consequences that might arise from high-THC cannabis.


This is just one example of how the interplay between cannabinoids and terpenes with our ECS significantly influences the potency and effects of various cannabis strains. Consequently, this variation is why two individuals consuming the same strain may encounter distinctly divergent effects.

Mixing Strains of Weed

To create a mix of weed strains, often called a “weed salad,” the simplest approach is to grind your cannabis flowers and combine the two chosen strains. From there, various options open, including smoking, vaping, or crafting your cannabutter.


Now, let’s explore the more intricate aspect: determining the ideal blend for your needs. Should you combine an Indica with a Sativa? Is it acceptable to mix two Indicas or two Sativas? If you decide to mix Sativa and Indica strains, how should you balance the proportions of each? Can you blend older cannabis with fresher batches? What about combining high-THC cannabis with low-THC cannabis or CBD strains?


Given the many variables involved, here are some tips to note when mixing different cannabis strains;

Tip 1: Mix Weed with Similar Scents

You’re likely aware that the distinctive aroma of each cannabis strain is attributed to its terpenes. Additionally, you recognize that the fragrance of a cannabis flower can play a pivotal role in gauging whether its effects align with your body and endocannabinoid system. If a strain’s aroma doesn’t resonate with you, it might indicate that it’s not a suitable match for your system, and your overall experience may be less enjoyable.


Therefore, our initial advice is to combine strains with comparable, pleasant scents or scents that you believe would harmonize well. Conversely, a strain with an appealing aroma could indicate that it will likely complement your system.


If you are uncertain, you can begin by grinding and blending a small quantity. Afterward, taste it and decide if you wish to proceed with mixing a larger batch.

Tip 2: Mix Complement Flavours

For instance, consider combining a strain with a tea-like flavor with another boasting a lemon haze profile. This combination could deliver a refreshing and enjoyable session.

Alternatively, if you have a penchant for cheese strains, you might experiment by mixing cheesecake with strawberry cookies OG for a unique taste experience.


Keep in mind that the ideal cannabis blend varies from person to person. What provides an exceptional experience for you might be less enjoyable for someone else. Therefore, don’t hesitate to let your creativity run wild and concoct various strains with flavors that pique your interest. We recommend starting with a small blend to ensure it aligns with your preferences before proceeding with a larger mix.


Tip 3: Mix Strains With Similar Effects

This tip may well be the most important of all. A practical approach to blending cannabis strains is considering how each strain influences your mood and sensations.

For instance, if you acquire a strain that imparts an invigorating and mentally uplifting high but induces a slight sense of anxiety, you could mitigate any adverse effects by combining it with a more soothing strain.


Conversely, come across a strain that delivers a relaxing, full-body effect but tends to induce couch lock. Mix it with a strain that offers a gentle, uplifting sensation to counteract the couch lock effect.


A helpful guideline to remember is to refrain from mixing strains at opposite ends of the spectrum. A highly energizing and euphoric strain may not harmonize well with one that provides intense, full-bodied relaxation.


Before embarking on your strain mixing journey, consider this vital question: Are you aiming for an indica-like relaxation without an instant knockout? If so, consider pairing an Indica strain with a hybrid that can elevate your high into an enjoyable yet tranquil experience.


Lastly, exercise caution when combining two potent strains. Mixing two strains introduces you to an entirely novel experience, one that has the potential to yield a new, albeit unfavorable, high—the kind where you feel both hyperactive and simultaneously inclined to sleep for extended periods.


Begin with a measured approach, and don’t hesitate to seek guidance at your dispensary. Ultimately, the goal is to have an enjoyable time and explore new horizons.





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More New York Cannabis Program Litigation: First Amendment Challenge to Third-Party Website Rules




On September 18, 2023, a new lawsuit was filed by, inter alia, Leafly Holdings, Inc. (“Leafly”) against the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) and New York State Cannabis Control Board (the “Cannabis Control Board”).

The lawsuit

This legal proceeding involves a First Amendment and other challenges to certain regulations adopted by the Cannabis Control Board. The regulations, known as Resolution 2023-32, introduce new rules under Parts 123 and 124 of the Revised Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations, which significantly restrict the ability of New York dispensaries and consumers to use third-party websites that aggregate information about cannabis products. The petitioners, including Leafly, Stage One Cannabis, LLC (“Stage One Dispensary”), and Rosanna St. John, are seeking to have these regulations invalidated on the grounds that they are arbitrary, capricious, and in violation of both the United States Constitution and the New York Constitution. They are also requesting a temporary halt to the enforcement of these regulations until the legal proceedings are resolved.

The specific provisions being challenged are:

  1. The Third-Party Marketing Ban (9 N.Y.C.R.R. §§ 123.10(g)(21) and 124.5(a)), which restricts certain types of marketing by third-party websites.
  2. The Pricing Ban (9 N.Y.C.R.R. § 124.1(b)(5)(ii)), which imposes limitations on pricing information.
  3. The Third-Party Order Ban (9 N.Y.C.R.R. § 123.10(g)(23)), which restricts the ability to place orders through third-party websites.
  4. The Third-Party All-Licensee Listing Mandate (9 N.Y.C.R.R. § 124.1(b)(2)), which requires third-party websites to list all cannabis licensees.
  5. The Third-Party Distributor Listing Mandate (9 N.Y.C.R.R. § 124.1(c)(1)-(2)), which mandates the listing of third-party distributors.

The arguments

The petitioners argue that the Third-Party Marketing Ban and the Pricing Ban infringe upon free speech rights protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, § 8 of the New York Constitution by limiting lawful commercial speech. They also claim that all the challenged regulations are arbitrary and capricious because they either conflict with New York’s Cannabis Law, lack a rational basis, or exceed the authority of the Cannabis Control Board.

What the plaintiffs want

Furthermore, the petitioners are requesting a temporary stay on the enforcement of these regulations, asserting that they are likely to succeed in their legal challenge and that they are facing irreparable harm due to the violation of their constitutional rights and potential business losses. They argue that maintaining the status quo is in the best interest of justice, and they urge the court to invalidate these regulations on the grounds of being arbitrary, capricious, irrational, and unconstitutional.


This First Amendment challenge is just the latest litigation, unfortunately, in a program that has seen a number of misfires and delays. We will continue to monitor this lawsuit, while awaiting answers on fundamental issues that the Cannabis Control Board has inexplicably failed to address. Stay tuned to our New York coverage for more.

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