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Wanted to know if it is illegal to sell products that contain tobacco online in the state of Maryland, USA. Let’s say I was starting up a cigar shop. I’m growing tobacco out on my balcony, and decide that my tobacco is fine enough to sell. Since I don’t have the money to pay rent/electricity at a shop, I open up the shop online. Is it illegal to sell tobacco without a license?

  • Spelling note: "tobacco" – Nate Eldredge Aug 7 '18 at 2:01
  • What exactly would you sell? Raw leaf? Cured and dried tobacco? Cigarettes or cigars? Different requirements might apply to each. – Nate Eldredge Aug 7 '18 at 2:15
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No. You may not legally sell tobacco without a license.

Tobacco is subject to excise taxation at the state and federal level and to requirements to verify the age of the customer in every state. You must be licensed to comply with these requirements.

  • Moreover, I'd be surprised if there is any license that would allow you to sell online. – Nate Eldredge Aug 7 '18 at 2:01
  • @NateEldredge I suspect that licensee to licensee sales online are permissible. A smoke shop in Colorado can probably buy tobacco online from a tobacco distributor in Virginia. Direct to consumer online sales might be more of a problem. – ohwilleke Aug 7 '18 at 2:04
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    People seem to forget what the "T" in "ATF" stands for... – Ron Beyer Aug 7 '18 at 2:11
  • Actually: there are excise taxes on cigarettes and various other sorts of end-user tobacco products, but I haven't yet found reference to such a tax on raw unprocessed tobacco leaf. If you're going to sell the raw leaf, you might have more options - for political reasons, regulation has centered on manufacturers and retailers of finished tobacco products, not on growers. If such regulations or taxes exist, I'd like to see citations. – Nate Eldredge Aug 7 '18 at 2:13
  • @NateEldredge Raw unprocessed tobacco leaf sold to end-users is taxed (I've observed taxed sales in this circumstance, although I couldn't vouch for it being federal rather than state law.) Usually, there is a tax with an exemption for people with a wholesale license in analogous situations, although I'd have to research more to cite chapter and verse. – ohwilleke Aug 7 '18 at 2:16

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