Officials in Colorado said they’re seeing more people ship marijuana out of state using the U.S. mail.
The U.S. Postal Service has become an increasingly popular alternative to shipping pot by car. Police seized almost 500 pounds of weed mailed from Colorado last year, which marked an 88 percent increase from 2012, when pot was still illegal there. It’s a 623 percent increase from 2011, officials said.
“The face of marijuana has changed, to the point where it’s become edibles and baked goods, it’s easier to disguise and utilize postal delivery services,” said Kevin Wong, an analyst with the state Office of National Drug Control Policy, also known as the office of the drug czar.
The drug czar is required by statute to oppose any attempts to legalize marijuana anywhere in the United States. The office is staffed mostly with drug-war zealots.
The report doesn’t cover any of 2014, so it’s too early to know how legalization has affected trafficking in the seven months since Colorado’s first weed stores opened Jan. 1.
The report suggests the rise of edibles has made it easier to ship covert cannabis through the mail. Though the USPS attempts to catch illegal drug shipments, they almost never succeed. Screening efforts are minimal relative to the massive amounts of mail that pass through post offices each day.
Most U.S. mail never goes anywhere near X-ray machines or drug dogs. Intercepting a single drug shipment, in other words, is like looking for a needle in a stack of needles.
That means the loot seized in Colorado may be the tip of the iceberg. Still, most weed is shipped out of state by car or truck, officials said. Last year, authorities in several states seized nearly 3,700 pounds of Colorado weed on roadways, up 33 percent from 2012.
The mailed pot went primarily to four states: Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, and Florida. Each of those states intercepted more than 15 packages. Seventeen states received no shipments, including Washington, where marijuana is also legal.
Missouri received the largest number of marijuana shipments from Colorado in 2013, 41. Texas, the next in line, reported 18 weed seizures.
The report actually projects the volume of marijuana smuggling will decrease in coming years because honey oil, edibles, topicals, and other concentrated cannabis products are easier and more profitable to sneak through the mail or drive across state lines.
Trafficking is a central concern for the federal government, though recent reports of an explosion in the amount of weed shipped into neighboring states were vastly overblown – and not supported by statistics.