Why You Should Never Send Weed in the Mail
Monday September 17, 2018
T here are few government agencies with their own memorable children’s song, but sing the first few notes to, “here’s the mail, it never fails…” and any member of a certain generation of American youth is likely to give the full song in response. The American affinity for the US postal service is so extensive it even spawned multiple major motion pictures. However, the nation’s growing acceptance for legal cannabis is at odds with our affinity for shipping things – making the mail system off limits for marijuana businesses or consumers.
Until extensive laws change, let us be really clear, it is always a bad idea to send cannabis through the mail.
If that’s not enough to convince you that mailing weed is a bad idea, we’ll break it down even further to specifically highlight the main reasons why sending cannabis via the mail is something no cannabis consumer should ever consider.
Cannabis is still federally illegal and considered a schedule 1 drug, meaning that sending it through the mail amounts to trafficking. According to the DEA’s 2017 ominously titled “Drugs of Abuse” report, the most minimal of offenses possible (anything under 50kg of product, or 1-49 plants) is punishable by up to five years jail time and a fine of $250,000.
If you get arrested with friends, they can charge up to $1 million to the group. Second offenses will double that, and it only gets worse for larger amounts. The US postal service is also a federal agency, meaning aside from cannabis laws, you can also be charged with misuse of mail and other mail-tampering related offenses. Even if the state you reside in is generally cool with it and decides to not prosecute, wherever it is arriving might be a different story, and each place can decide to prosecute however it pleases. Sending cannabis through the mail is definitively illegal in any circumstance, unless you are acting on behalf of a federal agency with the approved paperwork, which lets be honest, if you’re reading this article, that’s probably not the case.
Sender and Receiver are Both Equally at Fault
Maybe you’re thinking, “not my address, not my problem, it’s on whomever receives it.” This is flat out false. Both sides can be charged. People tend not to realize how well tracked the mail is, either by USPS or private companies like UPS or FedEx, and using things like fake names or addresses is actually a red flag to federal agencies, and is more likely to get your shipment flagged. All of the loopholes and workarounds that you’ll hear from friends are usually just wishful thinking.
Say Goodbye to a Future in Cannabis
If you work in the cannabis industry, or have any aspirations of getting into it, that would become impossible after a charge. Even if someone was okay with risking a fine or jail time, those in the cannabis industry may also be risking their livelihood.
In many legalized states, workers have to be licensed in order to be allowed to work in the marijuana industry, and the determination of that licensing is largely based on past criminal record, especially in relation to cannabis. Most consider having a clean criminal record the only requirement for holding a badge, so sending a package means effectively risking that possibility.
Risk Losing Your Product
It’s probably the least of one’s concerns, but it’s still a huge bummer. Though prices are constantly falling, cannabis still costs money. Even if nothing legal happens, the product is likely to be confiscated. Every year, the DEA publishes data on the amount of seized cannabis. In 2017, the record was broken for cannabis seized leaving Colorado through the mail, and it became so problematic in Oregon that its US Attorney issued an editorial about how overproduction was driving the black market. He stated, “In 2017 alone, postal agents in Oregon seized 2,644 pounds of marijuana in outbound parcels. ”
Without question, a lot of pot isn’t winding up at its destination, and your package is likely to be part of it. After it doesn’t arrive, you’ll get to play the fun waiting game of wondering if you’re going to be charged for it or not. Which, doesn’t always happen the way you’d expect…
The Government Probably Knows You Did It
So, maybe someone you know got a package of marijuana in the mail. Bravo, all is well. Clearly no one is watching, because it worked, right? Nope. Often, it’s not advantageous for the federal government to go through the process of prosecuting someone who has broken the law, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know about it, and won’t keep a record.
If it ever becomes advantageous to use that information at a later time, they can. Statutes of limitations will vary from state to state, but are generally longer for drug trafficking than drug possession. The current limit in California is five years from the date of the incident, just to give you an idea. One postal agent who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity put it simply, “We know. We always know. It’s either not worth the time, or we’re waiting for the right time.” Usually, after first being detected, they start to watch your activity and wait to see if there’s a larger charge to prosecute you for while you continue to send packages under a false sense of security, continuing to incriminate yourself.
The Consequences Outweigh the Risks
If you’re an upstanding citizen who would like to continue living freely in America, then it’s obvious you should never mail cannabis – no matter how lucrative it may be or how desperately someone may be asking you. Next time your friend begs you to just send out a few grams or a couple edibles, tell them to consider putting the money towards a plane ticket so they can come visit your wonderful legalized state and enjoy marijuana safely and legally.
Do you have anything to add to why mailing cannabis is a bad idea? Share your thoughts below!Mailing cannabis is a serious offense and can leave you with some pretty hefty consequences if you're caught. Learn more about why mailing marijuana is never a good idea and some of the steep ramifications that you could face if caught.
Marijuana by mail: Pot users tap post office, FedEx
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a study to look at the pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana in New York. Cuomo’s proposal was part of his state budget address on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.
Marijuana shipment caught by authorities. (Photo: DEA)
Some of New York’s biggest marijuana busts recently have involved smugglers using the U.S. Postal Service and private delivery firms like FedEx.
One saw $22 million worth of marijuana shipped through FedEx to businesses and homes in the Bronx and New Rochelle. Authorities allege 6,600 pounds of pot passed through the trafficking ring dubbed Operation Green Giant, and 10 people face a bevy of federal charges in the case.
The bust in the fall unfolded after agents caught one of the men with $230,000 at San Francisco International Airport, and FedEx provided records on 330 suspected pot shipments, court records show.
New York Drug Enforcement Administration Special-Agent-in-Charge James Hunt described the typical marijuana smuggling case as a mix of opportunism and new technology.
Some dealers track their deliveries in real time across the country, playing the odds that the product will seep through cracks in a system handling millions of packages each day. Some bundles ship to unsuspecting homes and businesses, where drug runners intercept them outside front doors.
A $100,000 investment in West Coast weed easily turns into $200,000 when sold at East Coast prices.
“That’s a big budget margin for a drug trafficker,” Hunt said, describing a growing underbelly of “weed connoisseurs” in New York demanding high-quality pot from California, British Columbia and parts of the Pacific Northwest called the Emerald Triangle.
FedEx officials wouldn’t discuss the case that seemingly showed how dozens of pot shipments went unnoticed for more than a year.
“We comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations, and cooperate with law enforcement authorities in their investigations of criminal activity involving our services or network,” said FedEx spokesman Davina Cole.
Postal service and cartels
More recently, another 12 people were accused of using the Postal Service to ship 220 pounds of marijuana from California to Rochester. The alleged smuggling involved about 1,000 packages sent between August 2015 and earlier this year.
The Postal Service Inspection Service, a federal law enforcement agency, didn’t respond to questions about efforts to curb marijuana smuggling through the mail.
The DEA’s Hunt noted that many of the marijuana shipments get through simply due to volume.
“I would be foolish to think we’re getting more than a portion of it,” he said. “They could send multiple packages, and the easier you can smuggle and transport something the more difficult it is for law enforcement.”
The Postal Service and private delivery companies have systems to target marijuana and drug smuggling, Hunt said, but the DEA generally stays focused on catching the big operations.
“We don’t spend our time doing hit or miss; We’re in the business of investigation,” he said.
That means a lot of attention to Mexican cartels, which can turn a few hundred dollars of pot into $2,000-plus stateside. The equation translates to major marijuana profits each year for deadly traffickers like the Sinaloa cartel.
“The Mexican cartels are the Walmarts, and the smaller weed-connoisseurs traffickers are the convenience store,” Hunt said. “Cartels are doing literally billions of dollars in Mexican marijuana even though it is not the same quality as the Emerald Triangle bud.”
Big Apple’s pot appetite
Marijuana smuggling offers a case study in supply and demand, and New York City seems to have the highest appetite for pot in the world despite its unlawful trade.
The Big Apple’s marijuana use topped a ranking of global cities in 2017. It consumed about 77 metric tons, or 170,000 pounds, of pot that year, USA Today reported. The next two highest cities were Karachi, Pakistan, and New Delhi, India, at 42 and 38 tons consumed, respectively.
Two other U.S. cities cracked the top 10 list with Los Angeles at No. 4 (36 tons) and Chicago at No. 8 (25 tons).
“The biggest thing for marijuana is that it’s so widely abused… It’s so pervasive there are a lot of people who hold legitimate jobs and go to work and even have families who smoke marijuana,” Hunt said,
He then contrasted marijuana users with users of drugs like heroin and cocaine.
“A lot of marijuana users are not the criminal element…You don’t find the same people like an opiate addict or a crack addict doing stick-ups and robbing people at gunpoint or breaking into houses to buy drugs,” he said.
Public-safety risks exist in the marijuana trade, however, at the crossroads of money and gangs. The recent arrests in the Bronx and New Rochelle, for instance, involved firearms, court records show.
“Gangs protect their turf, and the gang’s mission is to protect itself from the other gangs and that’s where the weaponry comes in,” Hunt said.Marijuana smuggling turns to mail, FedEx to feed demand in New York ]]>