Sharing a joint or an edible is just common courtesy. But while sharing is caring, especially in states where marijuana products are legal for adults, you still need to refrain from sending pot products through the mail. Or UPS, FedEx or any other private mailing or shipping provider.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have laws legalizing marijuana for either medical or recreational use. But that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and mail some to your friends who can’t buy it legally in other states. That also goes for trying to mail stuff within a state where weed and weed products are legal.
“It is still illegal to mail it because marijuana is still illegal under federal statute,” said Jeremy Leder, a Postal Inspector with the United States Postal Service who covers Oregon and Washington. “It is also still illegal to mail even within the state.”
Leder has seen a definite increase in individuals trying to mail marijuana since its use became legal in Washington and Oregon. Along with actual marijuana, people also try to send plants and seeds, which are also illegal to send at the federal level.
“Postal inspectors frequently — almost daily — seize packages that contain marijuana,” Leder said, “Because our carriers can smell it.”
He said many people either don’t know the rules or don’t care.
For the most part though, Washingtonians sending or receiving marijuana aren’t currently prosecuted since possession in “personal use”-size quantities is legal at a state level. But they still aren’t going to get their packages back.
“We will seize those packages and essentially send letters out to those people who sent it and those who are meant to receive it to let them know it’s illegal to mail. That’s as far as it goes,” said Leder. “We’re even nice so we’ll say ‘Let us open the package and send along the rest of the contents,’ because sometimes people send gifts and there are other things in there besides marijuana. We don’t want to seize people’s non-illegal stuff.”
Even so, Leder says he still runs into people who are angry that their marijuana didn’t make it through the mail.
“We have people who disagree with us; tell us that it is legal,” he said.
There are some grayer areas, however – some CBD lotions or oils are permitted. They are made from cannabis plants, but different variations than the types that cause psychoactive reactions or contain higher amounts of THC.
Because of the growing activity of mailing marijuana products, Leder’s department has developed a kind of education and prevention campaign to try to cut down on it.
“We try to have some people go out and talk to the dispensaries and say ‘Hey, here’s the rules, so please tell your customers,’” he said.
While Washington Postal Inspectors may be a little lax currently on prosecution of mailing marijuana, that doesn’t mean authorities in other states, especially where cannabis isn’t legal, will be as cool.
“We do see some people who mail it to other parts of the country where it’s not legal and people who may consider prosecuting,” said Leder. “There’s nothing keeping someone from Oklahoma or another state from prosecuting you in Washington.”
A different state may even consider federal interstate drug charges, which could mean federal prison time and/or hefty fines if convicted. The same is true if you use a private mail carrier such as FedEx or UPS to send anywhere.
Kim Krebs, from UPS’ Public Relations department, says her company is also required to comply with federal and state laws, making it illegal for the shipping company to deliver packages containing marijuana.
“UPS has layered security measures to prevent unauthorized shipments from entering our system. We can’t detail them to maintain their effectiveness, but they include a variety of screening methods, ongoing collaboration with the DEA and authorities, and information management through our technology systems,” she said in a written statement.
She agrees with Leder, from the U.S. Postal Service, on his advice for getting pot from one point to another:
“If you don’t want to lose it, don’t mail it.”