In November the United States Postal Service sent a memo to newspaper companies in the Portland, Oregon district stating that it would not deliver newspapers and other publications if the publications included advertising for the marijuana industry. Essentially USPS took the stance that since marijuana is illegal at the federal level, the promotion of those ‘illicit goods’ is illegal too, and USPS would not be participating in those promotions in any way.
This resulted in a backlash from not only the marijuana industry, but also members of Congress. Members of Congress wrote a letter to USPS officials telling them to back off, pointing out that USPS isn’t doing anything other than delivering publications that include advertisements for an industry that is perfectly legal in four states now and in D.C.. I have heard members of Congress complain about the USPS memo, I have heard the readers of publications complain about the memo, and have heard reformers complain about the memo. Over the weekend I read an official complaint from an editorial board of a major news publication. Per the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
This is yet another awkward case where state and federal law clash. As Jazz Shaw at HotAir.com theorizes, officials at the Post Office likely consulted with officials at the Justice Department before issuing their memo. Mr. Shaw wrote that if that indeed happened, then it can be safely assumed that there are some in D.C. who still want to prosecute cases involving marijuana in states where it is now legal. Mr. Shaw also doubts that the feds will actually go after the newspaper owners in question, and that the USPS might just be trying to cover its rear end in this case.
So, the U.S. Postal Service — with its fiscal insolvency, out-of-date vehicle fleet, shrinking staff, unpaid retiree benefits fund and money-losing post offices — is telling newspapers, which are struggling themselves, that they can’t allow a legal business to advertise in their publications if they want to distribute any of their newspapers through the mail?
Here’s a novel idea: how about the post office gets its own house in order before it starts ordering another industry to turn away business?
I wish that every media publication in America would issue an official Editorial Board position similar to that of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. If a publication wants to ‘opt-out’ of marijuana advertising, I could live with that, because I know that the publication would eventually lose out to its competitors that allowed such advertising considering it will likely be such a huge advertising source. However, for the USPS to basically ban all advertisements without the consent of publications is irresponsible, and harmful to print media companies and the cannabis industry.