USPS Bans Cannabis Related Ads
A recent memo from the USPS bans cannabis related ads from its mail, causing some problems in the Northwest. From what we know, at least one newspaper has already pulled cannabis-related advertisements from its pages following a USPS warning that the ads risk violating federal law. Members of Congress are now reaching out to the Postal Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., to clarify the agency’s stance.
The Chinook Observer, a weekly newspaper in Washington state, was delivered the memo last week. “If a mailpiece contains an advertisement for marijuana,” it warns, “that mailpiece is nonmailable.”
As a response to the memo, the paper has removed cannabis ads from editions that are delivered to subscribers by mail. According to Steve Forrester, president and CEO of Oregon-based EO Media, about half the Observer’s subscriptions go through the mail. Forrester acknowledged the advertisements provide important revenue to a struggling industry. “It’s new revenue,” he said, “and new is a good thing these days.”
The company reached out to elected officials, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer who wrote the Postal Service in regards to this memo. This warning, the lawmakers write, “seems to prohibit mailers USPS previously allowed.” The letter asks the agency to identify the “specific statutory authority” that gives it the authority to restrict advertisements for businesses that are legal in both Washington and Oregon.“Small businesses and community newspapers rely on advertising to be successful, and our interest is to ensure those businesses have a clear understanding of the Postal Service policies regarding mailed advertisements for marijuana products,” it says.
The USPS has yet to provide a response. For now, most newspapers are operating as usual, waiting to see how the Postal Service responds. But just as criminal charges against isolated patients stir up panic within the medical cannabis community, any action taken against the Observer would send other newspapers scrambling.