In a previous article we addressed the issue of traveling from a legal state into an illegal state with your marijuana products. Here’s a look at the obvious alternative to traveling with cannabis products— mailing marijuana home.
Just like traveling with an illegal substance is a risky business, mailing your stuff back home isn’t very safe either. Search any article on the subject of “mailing marijuana” and read the comment section. You’ll probably see people exclaiming that so-and-so@ whatever-email.com is a “great connection.” And perhaps some of the people mentioned are. But these comments aren’t reflective of the real risk. It isn’t about whether the shipments get through regularly or not. The risk is because the authorities are well aware of the flow of pot out of states where it’s legal. And they are watching all the time. Closely. In 2012 alone, US Postal Inspectors seized 42,000 pounds of marijuana stashed in roughly 7,600 parcels.
The Postal Service
The United States Postal Service (USPS) gets to use that name because they are a government agency and therefore subject to federal law. And since the USPS is subject to federal guidelines, any illegal use of their services is a felony. That means anything under 50 grams could potentially get you up to 5 years in a federal penitentiary. The penalties only increase as the amount grows. Postal inspectors do have to obtain a warrant to search a suspicious package. But suspicion alone is enough to get parcels singled out and tracked.
It has been reported that intercepted packages suspected of containing illegal substances rose 20% by the end of 2013 with 26,622 arrests. 68% of those arrests were for marijuana. The Postal Service isn’t willing to be your drug mule, so they offer a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to convictions of persons mailing illegal substances. A nice bonus to any postal worker’s salary.
FedEx vs UPS
So a safer choice is to use UPS, FedEx, or some other private parcel service, right? Wrong. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted FedEx with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances over its alleged role in transporting illegal prescription drugs. While this isn’t marijuana, it does indicate that Fed Ex will be scrutinizing packages much more closely for any illegal substances.
Once upon a time, the biggest threat to your illegal shipment was employees stealing it, because who’s going to report it missing? UPS, FedEx, and DHL have all said they are working closely with law enforcement to monitor illegally shipped weed and marijuana products in states where pot is legal.
Since these are a third party carriers, they don’t need a warrant to search or seize your package. The Supreme Court has ruled that giving your package to a third party “removes any reasonable expectation of privacy.” Oh, and that $50,000 reward for conviction of persons shipping illegal substances doesn’t just apply to USPS workers. Employees of private parcel carriers have had this financial carrot dangled in front of their faces also. So your average worker sorting packages in a warehouse now has the decision to either rip off your package or turn it in and go for the big bucks.
Big Shipment, Big Punishment
All parcel shipment companies that have warehouses in legal marijuana states are already on high alert for those attempting to mail goodies back home. Take the case of one Johnny Wolfe of San Angelo, Texas. He visited two legal weed dispensaries in Colorado last January and bought nine pounds of quality weed, estimated at $58,000, plus another $5000 worth of other marijuana products. He then placed it all in vacuumed sealed bags and sent it to his home address via UPS.
The package was labeled as suspicious at the Pueblo, Colo. UPS warehouse. Although it is not known what caused it to be labeled as suspicious, authorities contacted San Angelo law enforcement. When Mr. Wolfe went to sign for his package, he was arrested for possession with intent to distribute and is currently awaiting trial on a $100,000 cash only bond. The charge is a Class 2 felony punishable by 8 to 24 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. So the lesson here is don’t get greedy if you do attempt to ship something illegal.
The sheer volume of packages these carriers handle everyday does offer the chance that your package will get delivered unmolested. A few joints worth is more likely to get through undetected than nine pounds. But it only takes once. DEA officials have said they don’t bust every package they find, but they do “start monitoring” addresses they suspect of receiving illegal shipments.
There is a lot of information on the internet about procedures for mailing weed and cannabis related products. But in the end, it’s still a risk. The USPS recently seized 30 pounds of pot that was in vacuumed sealed bags inside of tin cans that had been weighed out to match the weight on the labels and the lids resealed. The discovery was made by The Department Of Homeland Security. Have I mentioned that they are very involved with package monitoring these days? In this post 9-11 world, being sneaky is harder than ever. Let’s continue to be careful out there.