Weed in the Mail: The USPS
For those of you who can remember, many, many years ago, before black Friday started on Thursday evening and social media was a thing, a large part of holiday shopping was advertisements. You would receive catalogues and fliers in the mail that would tout special holiday hours and pricing. You could circle what you wanted for gifts, and even make a collage of holiday wishes if you so desired.
Now, although we as a society have moved in a different direction with regards to how we display all of the things we have for sale during the busiest shopping season of the year, there may be a few of us who still check out a print ad or two. If, however, you are also a cannabis connoisseur, your homemade stocking stuffer collage will be suffering this year.
Why? Because the U.S. Postal Service has reminded us that it is still illegal to mail anything with a marijuana advertisement in it. Yes, mailing a newspaper with any marijuana advertisements in it is considered a felony.
The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association forwarded a recent federal advisory from the USPS to all necessary parties this week. The USPS warned them to shy away from “any type of marijuana advertising.”
The notice cites the U.S. Postal Service’s controlled substance policy. The policy states that it is, “unlawful to place an ad in any publication with the purpose of seeking or offering illegally to receive buy or distribute a Schedule I controlled substance,” which legally applies to advertisements for marijuana sold at medical marijuana dispensaries.
Reason behind the statement
It is still unclear what prompted the warning, which was first hand-delivered to a Washington-based newspaper which regularly features ads from local dispensaries. Portland based attorney, Jack Orchard, called the warning “an interesting political document,”. Especially because the warning Oregon received appears to have come from a Portland-based postal office, and not a national office in the USPS system.
“Why now?” Orchard continued. “You can say what you want to say about recreational weed and the liberalization of marijuana laws in Oregon, but medical marijuana is in widespread use throughout the country and certainly has been part of the Oregon landscape for a long time. The timing of this lends a kind of fascinating political edge to this.”
Peter Hass, a postal service spokesman out of Arizona made a statement. He states it is a felony for “any person to place in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publications, any written advertisement knowing that it has the purpose of seeking or offering illegally to receive, buy, or distribute a Schedule I controlled substance, which includes marijuana.”
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is trying to figure out why the advisory was issued. Blumenauer is reportedly in discussion with the postal service to try and understand this “outdated” interpretation of the law.
Now, of course this does not apply to newspapers that do not rely on the USPS for delivery. It does apply to those of you who were expecting to see some sky high deals in your mailbox, you’ll have to keep waiting.