Are Postal Workers Stealing Illegal Cannabis Shipments?Gage PeakeNovember 17, 2016
The practice is a violation of federal law. But according to a new report, there’s more to worry about than criminal charges if you decide to mail an illicit package.
Management was unable to explain why a cage used to store suspected cannabis mail had its lock broken.
Investigators at the US Postal Service inspector general’s office looked into the handling of packages containing cannabis at seven different facilities across the United States, according to US News & World Report. They found few safeguards in place at the USPS to prevent internal theft.
The audit, completed in October after several on-site visits early this year, comes amid high-profile instances of postal workers stealing drug-related mail or using their positions to profit from it.
At one facility, management was unable to explain why a cage used to store suspected cannabis mail had its lock broken. At another, in Chicago, two workers were charged with stealing illegal substances from at least 16 packages at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
In September, an Illinois postal worker was charged with knowingly delivering cannabis mail, after a tip was sent to the postal inspector general. During the investigation, federal agents seized five packages that contained a total of 4 pounds of marijuana, vials of hash oil, and bottles of lemonade containing THC.
The audit recommended that USPS adopt “a nationwide policy for handling, tracking and providing additional security for packages suspected of containing marijuana to reduce the risk of these packages being lost or stolen,” US News reports.
In response to the findings, Paul Krenn, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which polices the nation’s mail system, said the report, “identified an opportunity that can be addressed by leveraging existing guidance and handling protocols to further streamline and simplify the handling of suspected packages by Postal Service employees.”
Eight states and Washington, DC, have now adopted laws legalizing adult-use cannabis, and a majority of all US states permit medical marijuana. Never the less, cannabis possession remains a federal crime—as does using USPS or other parcel services to ship it, even within a legal jurisdiction.