Marijuana Can be Transported, But Don't Expect the U.S. Postal Service to Do It

Published Thursday, March 09, 2017

In California, where it’s legal to transport marijuana for medical and recreational use (with provisions, of course) -- mailing marijuana is a whole other ball of wax.

According to federal law, the U.S. Postal Service -- along with UPS, FedEx and other federally regulated mailing services -- is prohibited from mailing customers' packages containing THC, a chemical compound found in cannabis. (Synthetic cannabinoids are also prohibited from mailing.)

As you certainly know, cannabis is still federally illegal, even though it's legal in several states including California. The federal law -- which trumps state law -- says you can't mail marijuana even if you're mailing it from one California address to another California address. Heck, you can't even mail marijuana to yourself!

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the federal law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service, is responsible for ensuring U.S. mail is safe from all federally illegal contraband. In recent years, the service has busted hundreds of customers who attempted to mail marijuana inside seemingly everyday products -- such as empty tin cans and paint buckets.

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In 2013 alone, the Postal Inspection Service seized more than 46,000 pounds of illegal narcotics, according to a statement by Guy Cottrell, chief postal inspector of the U.S. Postal Service to the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce. (Cottrell oversees over 1,400 postal inspectors, 600 postal police officers and approximately 650 support personnel nationwide.)

The reason people attempt to mail marijuana seems quite simple.

"There is no better way to ship drugs right now," former San Diego Police Chief William Landsdowne said a few years ago. San Diego reportedly has one of the highest rates of people attempting to mail marijuana. “It's going up all the time,” Landsdowne said.

Federal inspectors continue efforts to keep people from attempting to send marijuana by mail within and across state lines.

Interestingly, however, there is one exception to the prohibition on mailing marijuana; it's under Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations, part 1308.35. It essentially says that if a person can prove the marijuana product they want to mail is not for human consumption they may be able to mail it.

Imagine explaining that to a postal clerk.




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