Ever since recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado and Washington (followed by a handful of other states), and medical marijuana became legal in several others, scofflaws have taken to using the United States Postal Service to illegally move it across state lines. As it turns out, the USPS doesn’t have any clear policies, or clear direction, in how to handle the issue.
As WWMT (Grand Rapids) reports, a heavily-redacted report obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveals that the USPS is aware of the large amounts of marijuana being shipped through the mail — 34,000 pounds of it were seized in 2015, to say nothing of the amount that went through without being seized. But their methods for dealing with it are sorely lacking.
Postmasters in at least seven unidentified post offices were found to have identified and held packages suspected of containing marijuana but then done nothing with them for lack of training about what to do next.
In one city, packages suspected of containing pot were put in the postmaster’s office — and then just left there.
“The postmaster stated that he holds packages suspected of containing marijuana in his office, which is generally unlocked. The postmaster also stated he was not aware of any procedures and did not receive training to secure suspected packages containing marijuana.”
In another post office, packages suspected of containing marijuana were stored int he postmaster’s office — and again, just left there. But in this case, the door wasn’t left unlocked; the lock was broken.
“Management was unable to explain why the lock was broken.”
If you think this lack of oversight leads to postal employees stealing marijuana, you’d be right. According to a U.S. News and World Report analysis, it’s almost a sure thing that postal workers have stolen at least some of that pot that sat around unguarded. However, that’s proven impossible to confirm, since the original USPS report is so heavily redacted.
However, it’s no secret that some postal workers have stolen pot from their workplaces, and have paid the price for it. In Illinois, for example, two workers were charged with stealing 16 packages suspected of containing pot. Similarly, in Washington, D.C., three postal workers were accused of taking bribes to ensure that packages containing marijuana would be delivered.
According to pro-marijuana site Leafy, the United States Postal Service, as opposed to private delivery services such as UPS or FedEx, is the preferred method for illegally sending marijuana — and other drugs — from place to place. The reason for this has to do with the Constitution; because USPS employees are government agents, and because the 4th Amendment to the Constitution protects you and your belongings from “unreasonable search and seizure,” post office employees are forbidden from opening and inspecting packages without a warrant. To do that, a package suspected of containing pot must be identified, flagged, and put away — where, as we have learned, it may likely sit in an unlocked room — while a warrant is secured.
USPS, FedEx, DHL, and other private carriers are not government agents; they can and will open and inspect any package for any reason, as specified in their terms of service. That means if you send pot through USPS, and they suspect it’s marijuana, they’re going to call the cops and you’ll be facing criminal charges, either for sending it, receiving it, or both.
The USPS report recommends “a nationwide policy for handling, tracking and providing additional security for packages suspected of containing marijuana.”
[Featured Image by Africa Studio/Shutterstock]