Hey, DOJ, Don’t Prosecute Small Businesses and Newspapers, Says Rep. Jared Huffman and Others
Did you know that the US Postal announced that advertisements for marijuana can’t be mailed? (Hello? Why then have they been mailing High Times for decades?) For online only media like us, the decision isn’t much of a problem. But for many newspapers in Humboldt County, it is an issue. Several members of congress are concerned and have written a letter to the Department of Justice. Why the DOJ? Read Congressman Jared Huffman’s joint letter to find out:
Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), along with 6 other members of Congress, sent a bipartisan letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging her to clarify how the Department of Justice intends to respond to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) recently announced national policy stating that marijuana advertisements are non-mailable. This policy could harm small businesses and newspapers that are in compliance with state law, and who believe they are compliant with the Department of Justice’s marijuana enforcement guidelines.
“The USPS has made clear their position, but this still leaves uncertainty for businesses, including newspapers, as to how DOJ will react to any information provided by USPS about marijuana advertisements,” the members wrote. “Clarity for businesses is essential as they work to comply with state law, and as states seek to implement their marijuana laws safely and effectively.”
The signatories on the letter along with Congressman Huffman and Blumenauer are Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Sam Farr (CA-20), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Eleanor Holmes- Norton (DC-At Large), and Ted Lieu CA (CA-33).
The full text of the letter may be found below:
March 29, 2016
The Hon. Loretta Lynch
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
We write to request clarification from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on recent policy issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS) regarding mailed advertisements for marijuana products in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or adult use. While the USPS may make determinations on the mailability of certain items, the authority to prosecute individuals and businesses under the Controlled Substances Act or related federal statutes rests entirely with the DOJ. We therefore request that DOJ offer guidance to clearly establish that in accordance with the Department’s August 29, 2013, memorandum titled Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement, and with language in the FY16 Omnibus that bars DOJ from spending funds that interfere with state medical marijuana laws, that DOJ will not prosecute individuals who are placing advertisements for marijuana products in accordance with state law.
As you are likely aware, in December the USPS issued national policy determining that marijuana advertisements are non-mailable. The policy also made clear that Postmasters and Managers of Business Mail Entry must send a report on non-mailable items to the Local Inspection Service “and the matter would then be turned over to the responsible law enforcement agencies for investigation as appropriate.” This policy could pose significant harm to small businesses and newspapers that are in compliance with state law, and believe they are compliant with your Department’s guidance.
The USPS has made clear their position, but this still leaves uncertainty for businesses, including newspapers, as to how DOJ will react to any information provided by USPS about marijuana advertisements. Clarity for businesses is essential as they work to comply with state law, and as state’s seek to implement their marijuana laws safely and effectively. Through inclusion of language in the FY16 omnibus spending bill barring DOJ from spending funds that interfere with a State’s ability to implement its own medical marijuana laws, Congress has made clear its intent that DOJ not interfere with medical marijuana programs. Additionally, the issue of advertising was not raised as an enforcement priority in the August 2013 guidance relating medical or adult use programs. We therefore ask that you clarify that DOJ will adhere to these laws and policies, and not take enforcement action upon receiving mailability reports submitted by USPS regarding marijuana advertising that is legal under state law.
We look forward to your prompt response. Small businesses and newspapers across the country are already making important business decisions as a result of the USPS policy.