Despite the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill over a year ago, hemp cultivators and distributors are still waiting in the driver’s seat – literally. Waiting to move loads, that is.

While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the growth and transportation of hemp federally, it did little to prevent drivers from getting pulled over and arrested while out for delivery. When a driver is pulled over, it’s not obvious if the plant being transported is hemp or cannabis. With an identical look, smell and feel, hemp doesn’t always register as such to the poor testing equipment that authorities have on hand. Often times it’s mistaken for its more potent cousin, cannabis, containing .3% THC or more.

For this reason, hemp farmers and distributors are still struggling to find qualified drivers and transportation carriers willing to transport the plant. Even when they do, confrontation with law enforcement still looms large.

New interim regulations put out by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in October 2019 seek to set this conflict straight by ruling that states cannot prohibit the interstate transport of hemp material. The jury is still out on its effectiveness.

Doing hemp transportation right

Hemp was farmed on 511,000 acres last year by the more than 12,000 active hemp licensed farmers currently held across the U.S. As the active ingredient in CBD products, an industry now valued at $2.1 billion, hemp is a sought-after plant. Here’s how hemp businesses can capitalize on the industry boom and move product smoother from the farm to home.

  1. Provide drivers with appropriate documentation and assurances. Make sure each driver has the right paperwork to support their transport should they be pulled over or arrested in error. This includes registrations for all parties involved in the shipping as well as testing certificates of analysis (COAs) for the hemp they’re transporting. Make sure the driver is versed or holds general information on the legality of transporting hemp, including the USDA new interim hemp regulations.
  2. Transport hemp in a sealed plastic packaging. Live plants do not have the distinctive smell that easily draws unwanted attention when pulled over by authorities or when parked at a rest stop. Make sure the product is contained in a sealed plastic bag or mylar to both protect it from elements and contain its smell.
  3. Recruit knowledgeable drivers and train them. Recruit and train drivers to understand the ways your organization is combating their risk out on the road. Drivers versed in the appropriate response will have an easier time when face to face with authorities on the road and will be less likely to be arrested.
  4. Retain the right hemp transportation insurance. Be sure to retain policies only from carriers that specialize in hemp. Because hemp coverage is not a form policy, it will only cover perils that are specifically negotiated into the policy. Make sure you engage a broker knowledgeable in the issues.

Contact your HUB Cannabis and Transportation experts to find out how we can help you hire and maintain a quality fleet of drivers.