Fewer Arrests for Mailing Cannabis Since Legalization
A new report shows that the legalization of cannabis in western states has led to fewer people using the U.S. Postal Service to illegally ship the herb than in years past.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the law enforcement agency charged with looking after crimes associated with the mail, has seen a significant decrease in people mailing cannabis across the country with the passing of legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington. Records show a 12 percent reduction in this type of domestic pot smuggling in 2014, not to mention a comparative decrease in overall pot seizures.
Although individual states continue to legalize marijuana, it remains a Schedule I controlled substance and is considered highly illegal in the eyes of the federal government. Sending even one gram of cannabis through the U.S. Mail is a serious criminal offense that can result in harsh penalties – even prison time.
“We investigate any and all suspicious packages that contain illegal narcotics,” the postal inspector’s national spokesperson, Lori McCallister told U.S. News.
The recent decline in pot shipments via the U.S. Postal Service is relevant in the grand scheme of nationwide pot reform because marijuana activists believe it signifies the collapse of the illegal drug trade upon the repeal of prohibition.
“Most of the shipping that’s being done is by people in the illicit market and those are the people we’re trying to get out of business,” said Diane Goldstein with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Recent data from the Drug Enforcement Administration also suggests a decline in marijuana seizures since the rise of legal cannabis markets. The latest DEA report finds the agency seized less cannabis in 2014 than it has in nearly three decades – a powerful claim, especially with only two states operating retail sales.
The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), however, which is a task force dedicated to monitoring the drug activity in several states, including Colorado, claims to have seen an increase in shipments of marijuana coming from Colorado. Interestingly, the agency credits the USPIS in their report.
However, McCallister claims that the Rocky Mountain HIDTA likely cooked the details of their report in order to prove to Uncle Sam that the agency still deserves an allowance, so to speak. She says their findings are not consistent with USPIS data.
Over 2,000 people were arrested in 2014 for mailing controlled substances – all of which were overseen by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Although there’s no information surrounding prosecution in these cases, the agency claims to aggressively pursue individuals who use the mail to violate the Controlled Substances Act.
Have you ever sent cannabis in the mail? Tell us about it in the comments.