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Is It Legal to Mail Marijuana?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

With legalized marijuana budding in Washington state and Colorado, many pot lovers are left to wonder: Is it legal to send marijuana in the mail?

What if you use the U.S. Postal Service? Or what about a private mail carrier, or even a courier service? Are these methods lawful?

Don't run out to the post office with your Maui Wowie just yet, because the short answers are no, no, and probably no. Generally speaking, here's why:

1. Federal Mail.

In places like Colorado, where pot enthusiasts are trying to give free schwag away on Craigslist, it may feel like pot is legal enough to just mail a joint to your friend.

*BUZZ* Wrong.

The United States Postal Service controls the general mail, and federal law controls what kind of things can go in it. In many cases, you can't even mail legal items like perfume or alcohol.

Despite what states like Colorado or Washington have passed, marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law, so transporting it via the USPS can potentially lead to federal drug charges.

In addition, if you're caught trying to send pot or any controlled substance through the mail, you can be charged under the statute used for mailing poisonous or hazardous items, which can mean federal prison time.

2. Private Mail Carriers.

A potential pot mailer's next thought might be to forgo that stodgy old post office and stick with a private mail carrier like UPS or FedEx to deliver her green parcel.

However, FedEx policy prohibits shipping "[a]ny item otherwise prohibited by federal, state or local law, rule or regulation," which might jibe with your state's law but certainly not federal law.

It isn't such a big whoop if FedEx refuses to ship your package, but any private shipper can call the police to collect a package if they suspect it contains a sticky, smokable substance.

3. Courier Services.

There are many bike courier and local courier services that may be less discerning about the kinds of packages they deliver. But generally, possession and transport of marijuana is still illegal.

If you're in Seattle, where Washington's Initiative 502 has made possession of small amounts of marijuana legal, you may think to use a general job/courier service to deliver less than one ounce of marijuana to you, but you would still be breaking the law.

That's because Washington law prohibits delivery of pot unless it is done on the retail premises of a licensed marijuana retailer.

On the other hand, proving that a pot-laden parcel is for delivery and not for legal personal use may prove a significant barrier to enforcing this law.

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