Mailing Marijuana: Is It Illegal?
State marijuana laws are starting to loosen up. As a result, it may seem like you can do whatever you want with the stuff, especially in legal states.
The laws might not be quite as loose as you would think, though. We’re going to discuss the legality of mailing marijuana in this article. We’ll give you the information you need to make a decision on whether or not you should use the mail as a method of transportation.
Let’s get started.
Is Mailing Marijuana Legal?
Your first thought is probably to send marijuana through the USPS, so we’ll start there.
Mailing Through the United States Postal Service
The USPS abides by federal law. That means that federal laws are what determine the legality of any package shipped through their services.
Seeing as marijuana is still illegal under federal law, this makes it entirely illegal to ship any amount of marijuana through USPS. This is true even if you live in a legalized state and are shipping to someone in the same state or in another legal state.
It’s very likely that your package will be seized and lead to consequences for the sender and recipient.
Penalties for Shipping Through USPS
Mailing a controlled substance can lead to some pretty serious charges. Marijuana has been considered a Schedule 1 drug in the eyes of the federal government since the seventies.
Schedule 1 drugs are those which the federal government considers having no medically accepted uses and a high potential for abuse. This, despite legalization in numerous states, places marijuana in the same category as methamphetamine.
Consequently, getting caught shipping marijuana in the mail can lead to trafficking marijuana, mailing of injurious articles, and misuse of the mail charges.
The severity of your charges will be affected by a number of factors. Of course, quantity plays a large role. Beyond that, your criminal history, your connection to the sender/recipient, your cooperation, and your responsibility in the situation will all play a part.
As the law currently stands, the base charge for shipping less than 50 kilos of marijuana can lead to up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of 250,000 dollars.
Odds are that you won’t get the maximum charges if you’re shipping a small amount, but those are the facts.
Using Other Couriers
Now that USPS is off the table, your mind probably moves to other couriers.
UPS and FedEx, however, don’t allow the shipment of items that are prohibited by federal law. That means you’re out of luck when it comes to mailing marijuana.
You might be thinking that third-party agencies have less of an interest in holding up the federal law, therefor maintaining lighter scrutiny over the packages they ship. We can’t speak for the attitudes of individual workers at UPS or FedEx.
However, we do know that while these couriers abide by federal shipping laws, they aren’t subject to as many of the federal laws placed upon USPS. That sounds like they would be more lenient, but it turns out that the opposite is true.
USPS has to obtain a warrant to search a package that they feel might be suspicious. Third-party couriers, on the other hand, can simply open the parcel.
Your reasonable expectation of privacy is out of the hands of the government when you use third-party shipping options. Additionally, third-party carriers all express their desire to cooperate with the federal government when it comes to drug trafficking,
Small Courier Services
Moving further into obscure shipping services, you’re not going to find options that allow you to mail marijuana.
Very small courier services might be less inclined to inspect the packages that they deliver but they’re still subject to the same laws and regulations as the big companies.
Even something as simple as a bike courier service would put you in danger if you’re shipping marijuana to someone close to you. People do send marijuana in the mail every single day, many of them not getting caught. Just because this is true, though, doesn’t mean you should take the risk.
As states legalize, it’s apparent that more marijuana is being mailed throughout large postal services. State legalization has no effect on federal law, and this means that postal workers and inspectors are becoming more keen on marijuana inspections.
Your odds of getting caught, then, are increasing as cannabis becomes legal in more states but remains illegal under federal law.
Looking to the Future
Now, don’t get too discouraged if you’re hoping to see a day when marijuana could be mailed freely across the country. There are massive movements in place that intend to legalize marijuana at the federal level.
Popular opinion of cannabis is overwhelmingly positive, and there are politicians currently running for office who have claimed to make sweeping changes to marijuana law, should they get elected.
If change doesn’t come from the top relatively soon, we can expect the people’s support of cannabis to work its way up through local and state governments. In other words, your state could legalize soon if it isn’t already legalized.
That way, whatever reason you have for wanting to send marijuana through the mail would probably be eliminated. Instead of sending your friends weed in the mail in different states, you could, say, buy them a gift card to the local dispensary.
Until then, though, it’s best to entirely avoid the risky process of sending any illegal substance through the mail, especially a schedule 1 drug like marijuana.
Whatever your personal opinions about cannabis are, remember that opinions tend not to matter in the eyes of the law, regardless of whether or not the majority of citizens disagree with the federal ruling.
Need to Learn More?
If you’re interested in drug charges, whether it’s mailing marijuana or getting charged with possession, we’re here to fill you in. Take a look at our law firm below and contact the Barkemeyer Law Firm if you have any questions.
Our site has a wealth of information for anyone looking for a lawyer in the wake of a run-in with the law. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you out.