Despite recreational cannabis being legal in 22 U.S. states, it is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines, to mail cannabis. This Esquire article interviews weed dealers who reveal their techniques for shipping product without getting caught, as well as a postal inspector from the United States Post Office who explains how they look for weed in packages.
Highlights from the article:
- The USPS employs roughly 1,200 postal inspectors tasked with identifying suspicious packages from the millions processed daily. In the year this data was collected, 2,110 drug-related arrests resulted from postal service investigations, suggesting many cannabis-laden parcels may go unnoticed.
- Cannabis growers prefer to send their products via USPS as, unlike FedEx or UPS, the Postal Service requires a federal warrant based on probable cause to open a suspicious package. (The USPS does not need a warrant to X-ray a package, however, and putting "Do not X-ray" on a package is an instant giveaway.)
- Michael Martel, a veteran postal inspector, said that packages without a return address, those sealed with excessive tape or carrying excess postage, and those that exude an odor are considered red flags.
- Luc Carlin, a former cannabis dealer and now a cannabis education consultant, outlined his meticulous packing process to avoid detection. This includes wiping bags with alcohol to reduce residue and odor, double vacuum-sealing, packing in smell-proof Mylar bags, and using new, clean boxes for packaging. When shipping cannabis, simplicity and inconspicuousness are key, both inside and outside the package. Cash payments at the post office avoid leaving a traceable record.
- For weed recipients, Carlin suggests maintaining "plausible deniability" when receiving a package. Waiting 48 hours before opening a parcel provides a window to hand the unopened package to authorities, claiming no knowledge of its contents, if they investigate.