Materials advertising the sale and use of marijuana are no longer permitted to be distributed through the mail, according to a policy statement released Thursday by the U.S. Postal System (USPS).
The statement, which deemed marijuana-related advertising to be illegal even in states that have legalized marijuana use, was in response to a request for clarification on the issue from the Oregon Congressional delegation. (Oregon is one of several states in which recreational marijuana is legal.)
“Advertisements for the sale of marijuana are non-mailable,” wrote Thomas Marshall, the USPS vice president and general counsel. Marshall went on to invoke the federal Controlled Substances Act, which, in addition to placing a federal ban on the sale of marijuana, also prohibits the placement of written ads in magazines and newspapers, among other publications.
“These provisions express Congress’s judgment that the mail should not be used as a means of transmitting advertisements for the sale of marijuana, even if that sale is allowed under state law.”
Four members of the Oregon Congressional delegation issued a joint statement expressing disapproval with the USPS’s decision, urging that the federal government take a more compromising approach to state laws on the issue. The statement also cited the need by many Oregon business that specialize in marijuana paraphernalia to use to postage system to conduct their business.
“Unfortunately, the outdated federal approach to marijuana as described in the response from the Postal Service undermines and threatens news publications that choose to accept advertising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,” read the statement issued by Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
The USPS directive was also opposed by The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, which claimed that the move could have a negative impact on many Oregon business’ bottom lines.
“This national policy from the USPS definitely prevents some of our members advertising opportunities,” said the group’s director, Laurie Hieb. Despite the crackdown, she said, “This is new advertising and none of them currently rely on it to stay in business.”
Washington, Colorado, and Alaska are also impacted by the USPS decision, as those states have also legalized the use of recreational marijuana.Additionally, states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal use are also affected.
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