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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Mailing Controlled Substances Is A Federal Crime

Mailing Controlled Substances Is A Federal Crime


As of February 1, 2024, 25 U.S. states have legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes, while 14 more have either medical cannabis programs, or have decriminalized certain small amounts used recreationally. Florida is one of the former, though its nearest neighbors either bar the use of cannabis completely, or restrict its legal sales to CBD products only. It is not unheard of for Floridians to simply mail cannabis or products with THC to other states – but doing so is a federal crime, and it will be prosecuted aggressively.

Always Felony Charges

While only a small percentage comes from Florida, the United States Postal Service (USPS) reported seizing approximately 54,875 packages suspected to contain cannabis in 2019 (the most recent available data). In past years, the service would recover as much as 34,000 pounds of cannabis per year – some sent by career criminals, but a significant amount sent through the mail by average people who might simply have been unaware of how serious such a choice is.

Perhaps the most unpleasant surprise for most people caught sending cannabis through the mail is realizing that because the USPS is a federal entity, misusing it automatically results in a felony charge – if not for trafficking in cannabis, usually for mail fraud. This is true regardless of the amount of cannabis involved – usually, under Florida law, possession of less than 20 grams will be tried as a misdemeanor, but not at the federal level.

Exceptions To Double Jeopardy

One other thing that is important to be aware of if you are caught sending cannabis through the mail to another state or country is that depending where you send it, you may face two sets of drug trafficking charges. While the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime (“double jeopardy”), this does not apply to a situation in which a crime takes place across state lines. If you, for example, send cannabis via USPS from Florida to South Carolina, you can face charges both under Florida and South Carolina law. This is known as the “dual sovereignty” doctrine.

The dual sovereignty doctrine can also apply in cases where someone might face both state and federal charges. Constitutional law scholars cite this as a recognized exception to the double jeopardy clause, because both a state and the federal government are seen as “sovereign” in their own right. Trafficking in cannabis through the mail could potentially fit the facts of this doctrine, leading to multiple problems for the person charged.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Trafficking Attorney

If you have been charged with trafficking in cannabis or any other substance due to sending it through the mail, you need an experienced West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney on your side to ensure that your rights are protected in court. Drug offenses are prosecuted aggressively, and you need someone who can speak for you. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.



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