Postal Service Enacts National Policy on Marijuana Advertisements

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The United States Postal Service (USPS) is announcing a new national policy banning the mailing of publications that contain advertisements for marijuana.

“It is unlawful to enter as mail…advertisements that seek or offer to buy or sell Schedule I controlled substances, including marijuana,” the policy reads. If USPS personnel identify mail containing such content, they must “send a report to the local inspection service serving their facility, and the matter would then be turned over to the responsible law enforcement agencies for investigation if appropriate.”

The policy was announced by Thomas J. Marshall, USPS’s general counsel and executive vice president, in a letter to four members of Congress from Oregon. The lawmakers had requested USPS issue clarification after the agency’s Portland District sent a document to newspaper publishers in the state warning them not to attempt to mail any newspapers containing cannabis ads.

“As an entity of the Federal Government, the Postal Service’s obligation is to make mailability determinations in accordance with the requirements of federal law,” Marshall wrote to the legislators in the letter, dated December 15. “Based on our review of the pertinent statutory provisions, we have concluded that advertisements for the sale of marijuana are non-mailable.”

The four members of Congress — Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici — issued a joint statement on Thursday responding to the newly announced USPS policy.

“We are working as a delegation to quickly find the best option to address this agency’s intransigence. We want federal authorities to respect decisions made by law-abiding Oregonians and small business owners in the state,” they said. “Unfortunately, the outdated federal approach to marijuana as described in the response from the Postal Service undermines and threatens news publications that choose to accept advertising from legal marijuana businesses in Oregon and other states where voters also have freely decided to legalize marijuana.”

In the letter, Marshall said he disagreed with the lawmakers that a Congressionally-enacted budget rider affects USPS’s ability to prevent the mailing of ads for medical marijuana. That rider, first passed into law last year, prohibits the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

The rider only affects the Justice Department, of which USPS is not a part, Marshall point out, adding, “Treating advertisements for the sale of medical marijuana as being non-mailable in no way prevents states from implementing their medical marijuana programs, because it does not inhibit the ability of state-sanctioned medical marijuana distributors to conduct their activities in accordance with state law.”

An updated version of the medical marijuana rider is included in a large Fiscal Year 2016 spending bill that Congress is expected to pass in the next few days.

The new USPS policy says that it is up to mailers themselves to comply with the law. Postal Service personnel are “not authorized to decide whether written, printed, or graphic material is — solely because of its content — non-mailable.” They are “not permitted to deny entry to such matter or exclude it from the mail.” Rather, when they see such content, they should advise the mailer of the law. If the mailer insists on trying to send the content, it “must still be accepted unless it is not otherwise properly prepared for mailing.” USPS staff are then instructed to report the matter to investigation and enforcement authorities.

Read the full USPS letter and policy announcement:

[scribd id=293534321 key=key-fqn8Vwzfqevs8ZHDig78 mode=scroll]

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

14 Comments

  1. Another genius move to increase revenue. I guess the USPS has plenty much money to work with. Maybe the government needs to get off they’re asses & de-schedule, that would clear all this BS up, & make it what should be, safe & available

  2. so Mailmen are going to start reading thru my magazines? “Leafing” thru my mail?
    Isn’t that a Federal Crime Mailman?

    • throat puncher on

      i had 4 friends who worked for the usps in tampa… the worst post office in the world, mind you. they would talk about hiding certified mail so they’d have something to do the next day. now as a paralegal, i realize the importance of certified mail and it’s timely delivery. and the cards being signed, etc. postal employees effing with the mail is also a felony. they even talked about stealing magazines because they wanted to read them. i just sat there, saying nothing, but taking notes. i gradually dissolved my friendships with them because if you have the balls to screw with the mail, why would i trust you in my home? oh you saw something you liked so you took it? wtf? so far every mail carried i’ve had is nuts. anger issues, flipping out over nothing, being asshats to customers. throwing packages and so on. i wish the usps would disappear or go private like ups. if you want a real laugh, google who actually owns the usps. you won’t believe it.

  3. Wow.. More Lost income for the USPS, at this rate they should be defunct in about two years…

    Fing Stupid Move……

  4. throat puncher on

    they are broke now. piss off the entire usa and see how your profits look. they all sound like my baptis mail lady, who with her christian love and charity, refused to deliver my packages to my front door because “they don’t pay her to do that” even tho i have dr orders and usps laws say she has to. i had to get a congressman involved to get her to do her damn job. sitting in my house with heart failrure and she harrasses me for 3 months, including throwing my packages into the flower bed not even up on the deck where my front door is. then she blocked the gate that allows me to enter and exit with a cane and help. and my oxygen couldn’t be delivered. so if they are gonna freak out over a mj ad, they have SERIOUS issues. no wonder they shoot each other. they are all so unhappy and passive aggressive to their customers. this will backfire because they are judging printed matter. ads for medical mj seem like a 1st amendment thing in states where it’s legal. i hope you go completely broke. you deserve it.

  5. Jeffrey Michael Gardner on

    What about the massive amounts of illegal offshore gambling advertisements that I get in the mail everyday?

  6. ModerateExtreamist on

    Fucking assholes, hope they get cancer and can’t find a place to get
    their meds, like i went through when i went through chemo 4 fucking times.

  7. Remove the USPS. It is not necessary. Another cost to tax payers. A few “no value added jobs lost.” Who cares, we have the internet.

  8. One of the stupidest moves ever made by the morons running this dilapidated country.
    So reading say “High Times”, will possibly get the cops sent to your door?
    This is just as inane as banning ecigs which are a safer product than smoking cigarettes all the while not caring that they kill smokers with the lies from Public Health.
    Shameful….
    C.B.

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