We reveal yet another way that obscure federal laws and regulations are being used to criminalize marijuana, even in states where cannabis is now legal. The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it is a felony to mail material that includes marijuana advertising, even if that advertising is done in states where pot is legal and even if the ads are for fully legit and entirely legal dispensaries.
The warning could force newspapers to choose between running marijuana-related ads and risk being punished, or stop running all marijuana-related ads, which could negatively affect legally operating dispensaries around the country.
While it’s still unclear exactly why the Postal Service sent out the warning, what is clear is that this could very well be yet another backhanded attempt to maintain the prohibition of marijuana in a changing political and cultural landscape.
“Why now?” Jack Orchard, a Portland attorney representing the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, asked The Oregonian.
“You can say what you want to say about recreational marijuana and the liberalization of marijuana laws in Oregon, but medical marijuana is in widespread use throughout the country and certainly has been part of the Oregon landscape for a long time.”
“The timing of this lends a kind of fascinating political edge to this.”
In addition to this postal service law, banking regulations are another way that federal laws are being used to limit the legal marijuana industry and to override state laws that have legalized cannabis consumption.
Federal laws currently make it illegal for banks to do business with any pot-related business, and this little-known law has quickly grown to become a serious thorn in the side of the marijuana industry.
Jeff Merkley, a Democratic Senator from Oregon, explains some of the pressures this law places on legal marijuana businesses:
“Forcing businessmen and businesswomen who are operating legally under Oregon state law to shuttle around gym bags full of cash is an invitation to crime and malfeasance.”
“It’s time to let banks serve these legal businesses without fearing devastating reprisals from the federal government.”
Merkley and other lawmakers are currently working on a bill to change all this and give marijuana businesses access to banks. Apparently, we need similar changes to current mailing laws as well.