WooCommerce.com Clarifies Its Policy on Selling CBD Products

Last week, a member of the WooCommerce Help and Share Facebook group who sells Cannabidiol or CBD products submitted a post that included an email exchange with WooCommerce support.

In the exchange, the support rep explained to the store owner that when their WooCommerce.com account was connected to a WordPress.com login, it then fell under the WordPress.com store guidelines.

According to the guidelines, controlled substances (including marijuana, cannabidiol or CBD, and other cannabis-derived products) are not allowed to be sold.

The support rep goes on to say that this included but was not limited to sites using WordPress.com, the Jetpack plugin, and any extensions from WooCommerce.com.”

The store owner is then informed that their store will be disconnected from Automattic hosted services if they continue to sell CBD products.

Legal Document Becomes a Source of Confusion

The support rep provided the store owner with a link to the most frequently asked questions on selling CBD products using WooCommerce.

The wording of the document made it seem as though there was a difference between downloading the plugin from the WordPress plugin directory or WooCommerce.com. It also appeared to apply limits on how the GPL licensed software could be used. Here is a cached version of the original document.

Can WooCommerce be used to sell cannabis-derived products such as CBD oil?

Yes, if you download the WooCommerce plugin directly from WordPress.org or install the WooCommerce plugin via the Plugins page of your site from WordPress.org.

No, if you download and install the WooCommerce plugin directly from WooCommerce.com.

It is the same WooCommerce plugin, but the location of download makes a difference?
What’s the difference?

The difference is ownership.

WooCommerce from WordPress.org is open-source software and is hosted through a third-party company.

WooCommerce from WooCommerce.com and WordPress.com is hosted through Automattic. Sites cannot sell cannabis-derived products if they are connected to Automattic servers, which includes and is not limited to WordPress.com, the Jetpack plugin, and any plugin or extension downloaded directly from WooCommerce.com.

Can I use WooCommerce software from  (x company)  to sell cannabis-derived products?
If you use open-source WooCommerce software from a third-party company, note that there may be additional limitations and regulations imposed by shipping and payment companies.

Can I get support for a WooCommerce store selling CBD products?
No, not from us at WooCommerce.com or WordPress.com.

Many of our store owners and customers reside in countries where CBD products and other cannabis-derived products are fully legalized, but the production and sale of cannabis-derived products in the US – where our company is registered – is highly regulated.

As a result, we are currently unable to offer support for any WooCommerce site that sells CBD oil or other cannabis-derived products, whether the CBD oil is over or under 0.3% THC and whether it is derived from hemp or cannabis.

Original WooCommerce and CBD Products FAQ

Taking note of the confusion, Paul Maiorana, Acting General Manager of WooCommerce, responded to the discussion and admitted in the Facebook thread that the policy was not as clear as it could be.

Earlier this week, the WooCommerce team revised the policy and made it much clearer on what is and is not allowed.

Can WooCommerce be used to sell cannabis-derived products such as CBD oil?

Yes, you can use WooCommerce for your site. As our software is open source, we do not limit its use.

However, while you can use the code of our WooCommerce plugin to sell products derived from cannabis and hemp, you cannot use services offered directly by Automattic to support those stores. This is the case whether the products are over or under 0.3% THC, and whether they are derived from hemp or cannabis. Automattic’s direct services include, but are not limited to, WordPress.com, WooCommerce.com, and the Jetpack plugin.

This means that you can use the open source WooCommerce plugin to sell cannabis-derived products, but you cannot:

Connect your site to Automattic’s servers in WooCommerce > Extensions > WooCommerce.com Subscriptions for automatic extension updates or at WordPress.com.

Use WooCommerce services that depend on a Jetpack connection, such as WooCommerce Shipping or WooCommerce Tax.

Host your site on WordPress.com.

Can I get help for my WooCommerce store?
Yes. Our WooCommerce.com help desk can assist you with your site if you would normally qualify to receive support. You might also receive help from others in the WordPress.org forums or the WooCommerce community.

Revised WooCommerce and CBD Products FAQ

In the last two years, WooCommerce has increasingly relied on Jetpack and its connection to WordPress.com’s infrastructure to provide services. These include WooCommerce Shipping, the WooCommerce app, and Automated Tax Calculations. In 2017, Todd Wilkens made it clear that WooCommerce would continue to make extensive use of Jetpack to provide cloud services.

While the policy makes things clearer, CBD store owners will need to determine if they can live without the conveniences provided by Jetpack, WooCommerce.com, and WordPress.com. This situation is also a reminder to all store owners to double check a service’s policies before connecting any sites.

Updated on June 25th, 2019.

WooCommerce has updated its policy to allow automatic updates from WooCommerce.com

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8 Comments


  1. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/12/21/hemp-cbd-farm-bill-signing-trump-delaware-agriculture/2387656002/

    CBD is federally legal in the US.

    Why is Automattic forcing a policy that’s no longer relevant to the law?

    THC / cannabis I can understand, that’s still federally illegal, and regulated. CBD however, especially from hemp is federally legal.

    Automattic needs to talk to a cannabis lawyer. They’re getting inaccurate legal advice on this one.

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    1. Automattic has to take a legally correct stance since they have global services and provide resources all across the globe.

      Yeah, they could have been more clear on their policy. Nonetheless, their stance has to be one which keeps consistency across the world.

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    2. While the Farm Bill relaxes a number of the federal regulations around hemp and CBD, it does not mean there are *no* regulations at all. This explainer from the FDA adds some really helpful context I think:

      https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-voices-perspectives-fda-leadership-and-experts/fda-committed-sound-science-based-policy-cbd

      Food, including dietary supplements, is regulated differently, but with the same overarching goal of protecting consumers. Among other things, it is currently illegal to put into interstate commerce a food to which CBD has been added, or to market CBD as, or in, a dietary supplement.

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  2. The support rep goes on to say that this included but was not limited to sites using WordPress.com, the Jetpack plugin, and any extensions from WooCommerce.com

    Does Automattic really have the ability to prevent those selling CBD products from using Jetpack on their store? I’m not sure how that works, but it’s certainly concerning.

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  3. And how does Gravatar fit in to this?

    Gravatar is a wordpress.com service, right? Yet Gravatar’s baked in.

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  4. wait what Cannabis derived CBD? what about all the CBD products derived from pine trees. There are many CBD products on the market that have no source of cannabis at all. Pine trees and other evergreens have CBD. How can they be so out of touch?

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    1. I’m no expert on CBD but my understanding is it is exclusively derived from hemp or cannabis, and thus our policy is specific to “products derived from cannabis and hemp”. If there are CBD products that are not derived from those plants, they are then not subject to the policy.

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  5. Well this is good to know. A bit confusing but I can understand it when it comes to international laws. I have a friend that is getting into CBD and he was asking me which platform to sell off of. This is the beginning of my research but I can see WordPress can be a good fit for him if he does it right.

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