It was only a couple of months ago that we heard about Oregon’s surprise from the United States Postal Service. The Portland District USPS had sent out a warning letter, to remind everyone that running ads promoting a schedule I drug is a federal crime.
In response some newspapers stopped running cannabis ads – but that means losing revenue for both the papers and the shops. This was the first time since medical marijuana was legalized that the USPS has sent out any sort of notice like this one and it was not distributed in Colorado, Alaska or Washington where the herb is also legal for adult use.
Not too long after receiving this notice, a few Oregon representatives set out the get things straight. They wrote a letter to the United States Postal Service asking for them to clarify a few very specific details that would help them better understand the policies.
The questions they asked were as follows:
- What authority does the USPS have over their being able to run ads that only advertise the sale of items that are legal by state law — especially if they are not advertising the actual mailing of the item itself?
- Was the notice posted written by a USPS headquarters that is in legal effect in all 50 states – and if not, do individual districts generally get to create their own policies, even if they contradict how things are ran in other states with legal marijuana?
- The document claimed that they (USPS) are cooperating with the DEA and DOJ – since the DOJ is currently banned from spending any funds to prevent actions such as this in states with medical marijuana the DEA cannot pursue, so this shouldn’t even be an issue.
Closing with the fact that they would appreciate a prompt response, two senators and two members of congress signed the letter.
I’m not exactly sure if they ever got the response they were looking for – but they’re getting ahead of the game themselves. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici introduced a federal bill that would fix the problem once and for all if passed.
The Marijuana Advertising in Legal States (MAILS) Act would protect allow the USPS to distribute marijuana advertisements in states in which it is legal. This would include all 4 legal states as well as all medical marijuana states.
“Federal agencies must respect the decisions made by law-abiding Oregonians and small business owners in the state,” Wyden said. “Our bill updates the federal approach to marijuana, ending the threat to 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.”
Passing this would bring a wave of relief to newspapers and cannabis shop owners alike. The marijuana industry hasn’t been having an easy time with traditional means of advertising that other legal industries get to benefit from. Recently, social media pages of cannabis businesses have been disappearing left and right.
I hope to see this bill pass and the social media sites find a way to come to an agreement with marijuana businesses – after all, it’s a legitimate industry, so it should no longer be kept in the dark. We’re trying to eradicate the underground market, so why treat the legal one in the same manner?