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January 2016

Journal of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association

Post Office won’t enforce rules on marijuana ads The Chinook Observer in Long Beach got a troubling notice from the United States Post Office last month. The memo said newspapers could not be mailed if they contained ads for marijuana. The notice said it was illegal to mail any publication that contained ads “offering illegally to receive, buy or distribute a Schedule I controlled substance. ... If an advertisement advocates the purchase of clinical marijuana through a Medical Marijuana Dispensary, it does not comply with the law,” the notice said. Just where the memo originated is unclear, but everyone now says publishers will not be penalized for mailing papers containing marijuana ads, and the truce will hold between states that have voted to legalize the drug, and the federal government, which still considers pot to be a Schedule I controlled substance. Rowland Thompson of Allied Daily Newspapers investigated the issue and reassured publishers no one would be prosecuted for mailing publications containing marijuana ads.

“The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board allows you to carry advertising in your publications for marijuana without regulation or penalty on you as the publisher,” Thompson said in a memo to his membership. “The United States Post Office has rules and regulations against the mailing of these marijuana advertisements, but they are advised by their general counsel not to set themselves up as the regulator or enforcer of these prohibitions,” Thompson said. Emily Langley, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Washington’s Western District, said federal prosecutors are following the priorities outlined in the Cole memo, published in 2013 under the signature of Deputy Attorney General James Cole. It lists a series of priorities as “guidance” to law enforcement. The priorities include preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors; preventing revenue from reaching gangs and cartels; preventing interstate cannabis commerce and limiting its cultivation on federal lands, among other criteria.


Tom Hyde of the Mason County Journal captured this image and won first place for a Color Photo Essay in circulation groups III & IV in the 2015 WNPA Better Newspaper Contest.

Look for WNPA survey on Jan. 11 On Jan. 11, 2016, WNPA will launch the first in a series of surveys with the goal of setting benchmarks for member newspapers. The first two surveys launching Jan. 11 will focus on advertising. There will be one for ad reps and one for sales managers. These surveys include quick and easy multiple choice questions and should take only 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Your answers are strictly confidential. Our goal with this survey is to help identify what type of training and development you and your teams want and to

help set benchmarks for your success based on your newspaper’s size. The survey links will be included in emails sent by WNPA to your advertising teams. You may recall that WNPA requested your employee rosters a while back and we will be using this email list to reach your team. If you did not send in your employee roster and would like your team to be included, please email your employee roster to mvandyke@ Please include employee name, department, job title, email address and phone

number. If you are unable to submit your employee roster by Jan. 7, WNPA will send the survey information to all publishers with a request to share the link with your ad staff and sales managers and encourage them to participate. We intend to produce additional surveys for reporters, editors and publishers throughout the year. Your newspaper’s participation is critical to the success of our surveys in establishing realistic benchmarks. Sales reps and advertising managers: save the date of Jan. 11 and take our survey!

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The Washington Newspaper, January 2016

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