A warning to those who would chance shipping pot via the United States Postal Service – seizures, arrests and indictments for mailing marijuana all rose significantly in 2013.  

The US Postal Inspection Service reported that, in the fiscal year ending in September 2013, officials had confiscated 20 percent more packages containing cannabis, which resulted in 14 percent more arrests and indictments than the previous year.

In all, postal inspectors seized 45,000 pounds of pot mailed in a total of 9,100 packages, compared to 42,000 pounds of weed discovered in 7,600 parcels during the 2012 fiscal year. Despite the risks, cannabis remains the primary illegal drug seized by postal inspectors, accounting for 68 percent of 13,389 drug-related impounds in 2013. The previous year, pot accounted for 67 percent of 11,322 total postal seizures.

In 2013, these cannabis confiscations lead to 2,622 arrests and indictments for the federal offense of mailing a controlled substance – an increase from the 2,299 busts and indictments in the previous year.

It remains undetermined if the elevation in seizures is due to more people putting pot in the mail, or if the USPS has improved its methods of detection. The Postal Service prefers to keep its methods of detection secret. According to a representative, “If we gave you any detail … they will build a better package.” Reports indicate the use of drug-sniffing dogs and “package profiling.”

Those who do opt to ship buds tend to use the USPS because, per the Fourth Amendment, inspectors must obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before opening any package. Private companies such as UPS and FedEx can open any parcel at their discretion.