Shipping illegal drugs?? really? July 26, 2009 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Do we really want AskMe to be a teaching site regarding the exchange of illegal drugs?

I could care less if someone is smoking/growing a little weed, but is this what we want to be? If y'all are OK with this, party on and delete this!
posted by HuronBob to Etiquette/Policy at 11:22 AM (88 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

They're not asking *HOW* to do it, they're asking about potential consequences -- a question that is easily-answered and should be pretty straightforward, actually.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:24 AM on July 26, 2009


We've been talking about it since it went up. To us, it's the difference between "what could happen if I did X?" and "Help me break the law by doing X" My thoughts was that if enough people were like "You could get in some serious trouble, is what could happen..." then it's pretty much the opposite of teaching people how to send drugs through the mail. That said, we're both very very on the fence about it -- and hadn't seen many flags at the time we checked -- so if people are really squicked by it, we're not dead set on keeping it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:27 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Considering both nations involved have relatively lax marijuana laws (and plenty of misconceptions about same), I figure it's a fair question.

Of course, why anyone would want or need to ship seeds between the Netherlands and Canada when both nations are overflowing with the stuff is beyond me.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:30 AM on July 26, 2009


I think we should be the type of place where people can be like "I have a really dumb idea!" and other people can say "Uhhh . .. no. Don't do that. That is dumb." I wish we could install a hivemind chip in everyone's heads that could tell them all why their dumb ideas are dumb. Doctors' and Lawyers' offices would be packed and everyone would be single! Utopia!
posted by ND¢ at 11:32 AM on July 26, 2009 [19 favorites]


I was going to post something about how we don't really know the percentage of people that send drugs through the mail successfully, and so it was therefore really hard to draw any good conclusions about the likelihood of anyone getting caught. But then I figured maybe that wasn't helpful.
posted by box at 11:37 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


File under H for Hmmmm....
posted by Sys Rq at 11:40 AM on July 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


"If it were just seeds I wouldn't worry about it at all. Just put them in some kind of box, like with chocolates or watercolour paints. Same with a half ounce or less of weed, except wrap it up *really* well so there's no smell."

"If you're going to fake a return address, please make sure that it's an address that doesn't exist. You don't want to drag some unsuspecting person into this."


well, we are getting into some "how to" territory here (misguided and misinformed as it may well be).

I will, however, accept the wisdom of the mods on this, but just thought it was worth a blip here on the meta...
posted by HuronBob at 11:44 AM on July 26, 2009


Oh no, Sys Rq! You've foiled his well placed plans...of asking questions...eight months apart.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:46 AM on July 26, 2009


well, we are getting into some...

If anything I think that warrants a flag to the answer, as the answer is not answering the question. But, in the larger sense, meh.
posted by edgeways at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2009


P.o.B. - Just thought it was funny, is all.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:49 AM on July 26, 2009


Taking into account the poster's other question which sys rq linked to, I don't think the post was made in good faith. Also, as huronbob pointed out, the answers are definantly edging into "advice on how to break the law" territory (even if it is a stupid law).
posted by silkygreenbelly at 11:50 AM on July 26, 2009


I certainly don't want AskMe to be a teaching site regarding the exchange of illegal drugs, and if the number of questions on the topic were to approach something like 0.1% of total volume I would start to get a little bit concerned. Perhaps we can discuss this if that ever seems likely? I just don't think the transformation of mission statement that you raise is at all likely.
posted by nowonmai at 11:51 AM on July 26, 2009


"I'm here from the internet. Hold still while I put this chip in your head."
posted by ND¢ at 11:52 AM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Taking into account the poster's other question which sys rq linked to, I don't think the post was made in good faith.

Sys Rq, just as I thought, some people didn't get the joke. Those two questions don't have much relation to each other.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:55 AM on July 26, 2009


Recently I've been typing really creepy im's on gchat to friends, and then saying "ooops, wrong im."

Example:

No, no, no. If we bury them too shallow the police dogs will for sure sniff them out. I say we just freeze the bodies and leave them in the cooler like we had originally planned.

Oooops wrong im.
posted by pwally at 11:58 AM on July 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


(And oh, for pete's sake like a moron I went and posted the below in the thread itself. I am a jackass.)

That said, we're both very very on the fence about it -- and hadn't seen many flags at the time we checked -- so if people are really squicked by it, we're not dead set on keeping it.

I wonder this about the flagging system--there's no opposite of flagging; only people who vote Nay are visible. I have no problem with that post, but I'm not going to favorite it because I'm not actually interested in the topic.

This happened once before recently, where someone's post got deleted and it was because a bunch of people had flagged it, and it was another one where personally I felt okay about the post and felt sort of bad that it got deleted because I didn't think it actually broke the guidelines, it just irritated people. I can't remember the post, though. I read too much Metafilter to remember anything about it. It's like a memory sinkhole.

Anyway, I think sometimes flags might create an artificial sense of consensus.

I don't have a better solution and I'm not really advocating for another solution, I'm just saying....blah blah blah ....
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:02 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're not a jackass, you're a terrible llama.
(Sorry, please continue).
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:08 PM on July 26, 2009


Well, technically a jackass would be a terrible llama, in the same sense that I would be a terrible whale or grizzly bear.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:13 PM on July 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Considering both nations involved have relatively lax marijuana laws (and plenty of misconceptions about same), I figure it's a fair question.

This is an excellent argument for letting it stand. No offense to all my American friends but it is a particularly American tendency to think "We Are The World" on any number of issues and thus proceed ignorantly forward with the best of intentions ... which we all know is one of the surest roads to hell.
posted by philip-random at 12:31 PM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


What're you, a narc?

Actually, I mainly just want to point out that by posting this MetaTalk thread HuronBob has interrupted the longest quiet spell in MetaTalk I can remember.
posted by loquacious at 1:01 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do we really want AskMe to be a teaching site regarding the exchange of illegal drugs?

Yes.

I would be a terrible whale or grizzly bear.

I've met worse bears. Worse like you wouldn't believe.
posted by spaltavian at 1:03 PM on July 26, 2009


I couldn't stand the silence... It made me fear that I was dead!
posted by HuronBob at 1:04 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I already had your obit post ready for the front page.
posted by gman at 1:05 PM on July 26, 2009



Well, technically a jackass would be a terrible llama, in the same sense that I would be a terrible whale or grizzly bear...
posted by Afroblanco


That's strange, because I've been thinking you must be some kind of bear; with that name not a grizzly, but one of those really terrifying frizzy polar bears.
posted by jamjam at 1:18 PM on July 26, 2009


technically a jackass would be a terrible llama


I guess most things other than llamas would make pretty bad llamas. Compared to a turtle or a box of crayons, though, now that I think about it, a jackass would make an all right llama. Comparatively.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:26 PM on July 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Do we really want AskMe to be a teaching site

If AskMe was a flesh and blood teacher, what would he or she be like?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:34 PM on July 26, 2009


I wonder this about the flagging system--there's no opposite of flagging;

Fantastic post/Fantastic comment are kind of the opposite -- they still flag, but for good rather than for evil.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:34 PM on July 26, 2009


I just flagged it, then found that it is being discussed here.

There several answers, containing specific suggestions on how to conceal the drugs, that (IMHO) should be deleted.
posted by jayder at 1:45 PM on July 26, 2009


What's really scary, from reading threads like these, is the assumption of a omniscient government that has the power to track you with their Minority Report powers and that even contemplating sending something that the government doesn't want you to send leads to a knee-jerk comment about how of course the teacher can catch you, they know everything!

The reality, of course, is much more scary. As the unabomber proved, you can send things anonymously through the mail, quite easily. Far greater is the risk of the recipient ratting you out than anyone being able to track you from evidence left on the package.
posted by geoff. at 1:46 PM on July 26, 2009


Doesn't really matter how the question is framed, it still illicits (get it? HA!) from many a 'how-to' response.

Also, the OP is asking about the consequences in order to determine if what he has in mind (return addresses or not) is a good or bad idea. So basically, we're helping him decide on a safe method of choice for conducting what amounts to an illegal activity.

Sounds like we're enabling him, which to me makes it a bad question.
posted by matty at 1:51 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's really scary, from reading threads like these, is the assumption ... that even contemplating sending something that the government doesn't want you to send leads to a knee-jerk comment about how of course the teacher can catch you, they know everything!

Perhaps you interpreted my answer along these lines, but in fact, I was saying something much more mundane. There is a huge imbalance of power between people contemplating criminal acts (who are amateurs), and people who try to detect criminal acts (who are professionals).

I see it all the time as a criminal defense attorney. Stupid fuck thinks he is clever. Unfortunately, the clever thing the stupid fuck did is well-known to law enforcement. Stupid fuck, not being a professional criminal, didn't realize that. Whoops.

If you value your freedom, it's best not to wager that, "Because the Unabomber managed to get his bombs through the mail, it must be trivial to send drugs and not get caught." That's sloppy thinking, and anyone who acts on it and sends drugs better accept that he may get caught and locked up.
posted by jayder at 1:58 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by HuronBob I could care less if someone is smoking/growing a little weed

You could? How much less could you care?
posted by mattdidthat at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


Do we really want AskMe to be a teaching site regarding the exchange of illegal drugs?

Yes. And not just because drugs are fun.

That question asks how international customs regulations and postal procedures work concerning shipments of drugs. People here love a puzzle, a problem to be solved, a system to be sussed. If you ask them how to get a certain number of missionaries and cannibals across the river, they will figure it out at face value and they will criticize the use of missionaries in history and today and they will disdain the question's picture of unconverted aboriginal peoples as cannibals and so on, but they probably won't go out and load up a boat with actual missionaries and actual cannibals to see who gets eaten.
posted by pracowity at 2:22 PM on July 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


There several answers, containing specific suggestions on how to conceal the drugs, that (IMHO) should be deleted.

Jayder, I'm guessing I'm one of the guilty parties here. Or maybe I was just sharing an anecdote (better part of 20 years old) that I felt was relevant to the discussion.

If you value your freedom,

What if I do very much value my freedom, and what if one the highest definitions of this freedom is my right to do whatever I wish to the chemical balance of my own personal biosphere, without any God, government or COP interfering? So it becomes extremely hypocritical of me to then accept the "fear of the law" you seem to be advocating here.
posted by philip-random at 2:23 PM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


If AskMe was a flesh and blood teacher, what would he or she be like?

The cool hip teacher that's just a bit older, and out of your reach.

Back to the original comment - this kind of question should be out of AskMe's realm. Flagged.
posted by seawallrunner at 2:30 PM on July 26, 2009


Stop snitchin
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:34 PM on July 26, 2009


Jayder is correct in saying (if I read it right) that people should be warned not to actually try any of the stuff suggested here, because anything suggested here has been thought up before by some of the many, many dopers trying to get stuff across the border, and many of them are now in prison for using what turned out to be old and well-known tricks.
posted by pracowity at 2:34 PM on July 26, 2009



Fantastic post/Fantastic comment are kind of the opposite -- they still flag, but for good rather than for evil.



Yeah...still, though, it's not so much that I think it's Fantastic. I just don't think it's awful. I guess, frankly, I don't care all that much and maybe in that case they people who do care more about it should carry more weight.

I'm don't actually mean to advocate for this specific post, if it wanders over into illegal territory I would think it would be a legal exposure for Metafilter and not worth it. I'm just thinking about it in general.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:46 PM on July 26, 2009


Philip-random, the QUESTION was about legal consequences of sending drugs by mail. So this is NOT a question about whether you advocate philosophically your freedom to get high. I don't see how you think it pertains to the discussion.

So it becomes extremely hypocritical of me to then accept the "fear of the law" you seem to be advocating here.

Dude, the poster was asking what the legal consequences of sending drugs would be. Not whether it's hypocritical to fear criminal prosecution.

(And furthermore, how is it hypocritical to value your freedom to get high, while at the same time fearing the criminal prosecution that may result if you get caught with drugs. Those things are not incompatible.)
posted by jayder at 2:46 PM on July 26, 2009


I agree with jayder. That trick of putting weed in a jar of peanut butter sounds like a really clever idea the first time you learn of it, but I've heard so many people repeat it that I can't imagine that customs officials aren't aware of it. I'm sure that they immediately become suspicious when they see a single jar of peanut butter in a box. They're not thinking, "huh, this Dutch peanut butter is really popular. Maybe I should buy stock."
posted by painquale at 2:54 PM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


""posted by HuronBob "I could care less if someone is smoking/growing a little weed"

"You could? How much less could you care?""


not much, actually
posted by HuronBob at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2009


Do we really want AskMe to be a teaching site regarding the exchange of illegal drugs?

I for one, don't mind.
posted by chillmost at 3:07 PM on July 26, 2009


You could? How much less could you care?

Really?
posted by Deathalicious at 3:20 PM on July 26, 2009


This is a good thread because it shows the consequences for breaking the law.
posted by gjc at 3:38 PM on July 26, 2009


MetaFilter: "go out and load up a boat with actual missionaries and actual cannibals to see who gets eaten."
posted by Mitheral at 3:41 PM on July 26, 2009


(And furthermore, how is it hypocritical to value your freedom to get high, while at the same time fearing the criminal prosecution that may result if you get caught with drugs. Those things are not incompatible.)

Guilty of being in a rush to make a point and stumbling into sloppy hyperbole.

So what the hell was I trying to actually say? Something along the lines of FEAR propaganda being a principle weapon in the ongoing and endlessly absurd and destructive "War On Drugs", and as such, it must be challenged. Not because I just want to be free to get high but because there's a very dark underside to the prohibition of any substance that might alter one's consciousness. As soon as we allow for this, we start down the slippery slope that eventually allows the government etc to determine exactly what our brain chemistry should or shouldn't be.

We're already on this slippery slope by the way. Look no further than how easy it is to get a prescription for a so-called A-D-D child on the one hand, and your latest friendly neighborhood grow-op bust on the other.

This tendency must be fought, and part of this fight is not just bowing under to FEAR propaganda; specifically, allowing it to justify the shutting down of some open, informed discussion on a cool web site.
posted by philip-random at 3:43 PM on July 26, 2009


specifically, allowing it to justify the shutting down of some open, informed discussion on a cool web site.

We try to be conscious of auto-surveillance tendencies with things like this. I am concerned, though, that sometimes we can go overboard, so that in an effort not to be mimicking a nanny state we get too permissive; finding the balance is tough.

It doesn't really help to flag stuff that you *don't* want deleted with "fantastic" flags. Basically it's usually pretty clear when something is pretty resoundly hated and when it isn't. Over the years I've rarely noticed situations where a lot of people will negatively flag something that's contentious without there also being a MetaTalk thread about it if there are strong feelings both ways. This could, of course, be confirmation bias but we get data from the MeFi population in more ways than just flags.

We've been watching that thread for the past five hours or so and it doesn't seem to be getting terribly "worse" so it's probably going to stick around, but just for the record, it's a pretty edge-case question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:52 PM on July 26, 2009


> they probably won't go out and load up a boat with actual missionaries and actual cannibals to see who gets eaten.

One MeFite in particular is famous for doing exactly that type of thing.
posted by nowonmai at 3:52 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW, whenever I've had people send me chocolates from foreign countries, the chocolates have been opened by customs and multiple chocolates have been squished -- presumably to check that the contents were what they purported to be.

You pays your money....
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:12 PM on July 26, 2009


"If you're going to fake a return address, please make sure that it's an address that doesn't exist. You don't want to drag some unsuspecting person into this."

In retrospect, I should have worded this differently--it should have been prefaced with "If you're going to do something stupid, please don't involve an innocent third party."

It was never my intent to instruct anyone in the particulars of drug trafficking. My intent was to keep some poor schmoe at 1234 Oak St. from being implicated in a potential crime if the original poster did, in fact, decide to start sending things through the mail.

My apologies.
posted by corey flood at 4:12 PM on July 26, 2009


If by "actual missionaries and actual cannibals" you mean "mannequins done up like missionaries and cannibals, and by the way they're also full of explosives because it's awesome when things explode."

Man, now I really wanna watch that episode.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:13 PM on July 26, 2009


Thanks a lot corey flood. Now I gotta move!

and how did you know I was a schmoe?
posted by Sailormom at 4:25 PM on July 26, 2009


some poor schmoe at 1234 Oak St

I'm partial to the listing of 22 Twain St. on all my illegal packages as the return address.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:32 PM on July 26, 2009


Digression, but Jayder, I'm always so surprised when you mentioned being a criminal defense lawyer - not because you don't know the law or whatever, but you seem to really despise the people you must be representing day-in, day-out.

I suspect - much like the crims - you may be a victim of your own sampling error: All crimincals are not stupid, but a higher proportion of the ones that get caught would be stupid, and thus you would only rarely represent the clever ones.

I find it funny that we worry about pot seeds in the mail crossing a legality line, yet one of the best Ask.me's ever was effectively a how-to on GETTING RID OF A CORPSE.
posted by smoke at 4:37 PM on July 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Beware the Crims
posted by Burhanistan at 4:39 PM on July 26, 2009


And how about the Just Say Yes crowd getting all uppity up in this question? What the hell is wrong with urging caution about using a street drug? Brain damaged bastards.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:41 PM on July 26, 2009


Consider that 'advice on how to break the law' becoming a red flag is a bad idea. Not all laws are just, and not all laws apply to all askers or all posters.

If someone from Iran was asking about ways to organize protests while avoiding government surveillance, we'd be fighting to get our posts in, and the only Meta callouts would be "hey, look at this great thread!" But it would be just as illegal as what the drug poster is asking about. Maybe more so -- the potential penalties are certainly worse.

AskMe isn't a site to enforce either legality or morality. If you don't like the contents of a particular question, or if you think it's illegal, don't answer it.
posted by Malor at 4:43 PM on July 26, 2009 [17 favorites]


I agree 100% with Malor. To me, the important distinction here is between malum prohibitum and malum in se. Asking for information with regard to the former is just fine by me, asking for help with regard to the latter would make me very, very uncomfortable.

Asking about drugs doesn't bother me since that's clearly a case of malum prohibitum. Asking for help getting away with a rape or something would obviously be malum in se and I suspect would be deleted post haste.

But for stuff like this? MYOB.
posted by Justinian at 4:55 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


And how about the Just Say Yes crowd getting all uppity up in this question? What the hell is wrong with urging caution about using a street drug? Brain damaged bastards

You don't have my job.

Nearly every question about everything has people urging caution as derail answers. Some people just do that as a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, comes with the territory. If people can give decent information and answer the question, then great, but it becomes really tiresome when it seems like nearly every thread about boy-girl-sex has someone saying "Please get tested!!" or "You're using condoms, right??"

The MDMA question is a mess because people with limited information are generalizing their experiences as answers. If all we knew about MDMA was people's individual experiences then I could see this sort of "well I tried it once and..." response being useful. But oh hey there's granted and she gets to hang out with people taking MDMA for her job. Awesome. Sometimes it takes one person to show up with a really good answer to highlight that the other answers aren't so good. As it stands there's a lot of freakout and very little data in that thread which I think does everyone, drug takers and non-drug takers, a disservice.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:55 PM on July 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


In a somewhat related question, could I swap the send and return addresses on an envelope, drop it in the box without postage, and have it returned to the "sender" who is actually the intended recipient?
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 5:18 PM on July 26, 2009


Narc!
posted by Eideteker at 5:27 PM on July 26, 2009


Blue Punch Buggy!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:42 PM on July 26, 2009


There's an easier way! The questioner speaks:
I got something for ya. [Holds up seeds] These seeds I got here were first purchased by your great-grandfather during the first world war. They were bought in a little general store in Amsterdam, made by the first company to ever make seeds. Up until then, people just carried big ass plants. They were bought by Private Doughboy Ryan Coolidge the day he set sail for Paris. They were your great-grandfather's war seeds, and he planted them every day he was in the war. Then when he had done his duty, he went home to your great-grandmother, took the seeds and put them in an old coffee can. And in that can they stayed 'til your granddad Dane Coolidge was called upon by his country to go overseas and fight the Germans once again. This time they called it World War Two. Your great-granddad gave these seeds to your granddad for good luck. Unfortunately, Dane's luck wasn't as good as his old man's. Dane was a Marine and he was killed along with all the other Marines at the battle of Wake Island. Your granddad was facing death, and he knew it. None of those boys had any illusions about ever leaving that island alive. So three days before the Japanese took the island, your granddad asked a gunner on an Air Force transport named Winocki, a man he had never met before in his life, to deliver to his infant son, who he had never seen in the flesh, his seeds. Three days later, your grandfather was dead. But Winocki kept his word. After the war was over, he paid a visit to your grandmother, delivering to your infant father, his Dad's seeds. These seeds. These seeds were in your Daddy's pocket when he was shot down over Hanoi. He was captured and put in a Vietnamese prison camp. He knew if the gooks ever saw the seeds that they'd be confiscated; taken away. The way your Dad looked at it, these seeds were your birthright. He'd be damned if any slopes were gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy's seeds. So he hid them in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass. Five long years, he carried these seeds up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the seeds. I hid this uncomfortable lump of seed up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, young Canook, I give the seeds to you.
posted by xorry at 5:59 PM on July 26, 2009


you seem to really despise the people you must be representing day-in, day-out.

No, I don't --- in fact, most of them are quite nice people who made mistakes. I really do like most of my clients ... but having seen the horrible binds they get themselves in, I may vent a bit about stupid decisions they make. I should probably tone my language down.
posted by jayder at 6:55 PM on July 26, 2009


I just asked my wife if she thought my way of speaking about my clients reflects any lurking ill-will toward them. She said no, that I use "stupid fuck" as a term of endearment.
posted by jayder at 7:08 PM on July 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


No, I don't --- in fact, most of them are quite nice people who made mistakes. I really do like most of my clients ... but having seen the horrible binds they get themselves in, I may vent a bit about stupid decisions they make.

Actually, that kind of mirrors the sentiment that I've heard my public defender friends voice from time to time. One of them even said something to the effect of, "I'm no longer bothered by their crimes, even the really awful ones. What I am bothered by is when they do stupid stupid things like confess or talk to the cops." Granted, this friend of mine is a total moral relativist -- and trust me, we've gotten into MANY debates about that -- but what she said made sense in a twisted sort of way. When her clients do stupid things after the fact, it really just makes her job that much harder.

I guess it takes a special kind of person to be a PD.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:23 PM on July 26, 2009


She said no, that I use "stupid fuck" as a term of endearment.

Love it! And your overall feeling very much mirrors my own public defender friend. From what she says, it's truly difficult to contemplate how badly most criminals have done crime and its after-affects until you've spent a day or two in court.
posted by smoke at 7:33 PM on July 26, 2009


Justinian: "the important distinction here is between malum prohibitum and malum in se."

Is that college talk for "illegal" and "immoral"? You done riled up my mind grapes.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:44 PM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


She said no, that I use "stupid fuck" as a term of endearment

Bless your heart.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 PM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


My wife calls ME a stupid fuck. I hope its a term of endearment.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2009


I am a stupid fuck. Everybody loves me.
posted by philip-random at 10:14 PM on July 26, 2009


I would be an awesome whale.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:32 PM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


abc123xyzinfinity: "In a somewhat related question, could I swap the send and return addresses on an envelope, drop it in the box without postage, and have it returned to the "sender" who is actually the intended recipient?"

Technically it's mail fraud to RTS a letter or package once it's been opened, or at least that's the story I've been told by more than one USPS clerk. (I haven't actually checked the DMM for that.)

Once upon a time, I used to be a member of one of those "book of the month clubs" (this being Before Amazon). And their thing was that, unless you responded to their monthly mailing absurdly quickly, they'd automatically send you, and bill you for, a book or two every month. If you got the book and didn't want it, you could just write "return to sender - refused" on it, and they wouldn't bill you. But you had to RTS it, you couldn't just mail it back to them, so they said.

Anyway, what would happen pretty frequently is that I'd get a book in the mail, not remember if it was one I wanted or not, and I'd have to very carefully try to peek inside to see. Once or twice I opened it, realized it wasn't a book I'd ordered intentionally, gone "oh, shit," and tried to reseal it and send it back. The postal clerks gave me hell for this, because really once you open it, you can't "refuse" it, and you're supposed to pay the postage as a new shipment. (But the book-club thing used to happen a lot and they were helpful about it, it was sort of a "don't do it again, or don't do it this obviously.")

So anyway, that's my return-to-sender story.

Interesting (if you're a mail dork like I am) and semi-related note: some types of mail have return service built-in to their price, while others cost extra if it happens. When you buy a regular old FCM stamp for a letter, it comes with 'free' return service if it's undeliverable. This is why if you send a letter and it gets returned, there's no postage due. But on some bulk mail categories, return service is an optional service: companies can choose whether undeliverable mail should be returned (at like 2.5x the outgoing rate), or just trashed. This is why you'll see some bulk mailings, like tax documents and billing statements say "Address Service Requested" on them. This is a note to the Post Office saying, "yeah we actually want you to return this to us if you can't deliver it, not just throw it in the trash, and we'll pay for it."
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:10 AM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


if you're a mail dork

I'm always happy to hear there are ways to be a dork that I haven't covered. Gives me faith in the infinite capacity of the universe. Such abundance!
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:15 AM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The MDMA question is a mess because people with limited information are generalizing their experiences as answers.

And just plain making things up. The only "principled sociopath" I've ever heard of was a guy named Dexter.
posted by scalefree at 8:01 AM on July 27, 2009


I always thought that a relatively clever way to ship reasonable quantities of drugs would be to gain access to a cannery and package them inside cans of dog food, no one would find it particularly odd if you had a case of dog food in your trunk and even shipping it wouldn't be outside the realms of something that people do, especially if you used a label which indicated it was prescription food (vets sometimes prescribe specialty foods for things like kidney problems, and it is much cheaper to order it online in bulk.)

But, since I have no desire to ship or receive drugs, I have no idea if this would ever actually work.

Maybe I'll use it as a plot device in one of the dozens of stories that I start and never finish.
posted by quin at 8:15 AM on July 27, 2009


I'm always happy to hear there are ways to be a dork that I haven't covered. Gives me faith in the infinite capacity of the universe. Such abundance!

There are at least a handful of mail dorks on MeFi. I am also one of them. Watch the postal questions on AskMe sometime, it can be fascinating.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:56 AM on July 27, 2009


I need to return to the question of what kind of teacher AskMe would be. I think that AskMe would be a kind of "Don't Stand so Close to Me" type of teacher.
posted by kalessin at 9:55 AM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm partial to the listing of 22 Twain St. on all my illegal packages as the return address.

I like to use "21 Jump Street"
posted by jammy at 4:44 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling the answer your looking for is "no."

I guess I can see where you're coming from.
posted by 256 at 6:39 AM on July 28, 2009


Derail- the crazy lady at the post office convinced me to buy a "stamp decoder". She showed me how it works on some stamps she had at the office. I have NEVER seen a stamp "in the wild" that has the encoded information. What gives?
posted by gjc at 7:04 AM on July 28, 2009


I always thought that a relatively clever way to ship reasonable quantities of drugs would be to gain access to a cannery and package them inside cans of dog food, no one would find it particularly odd if you had a case of dog food in your trunk and even shipping it wouldn't be outside the realms of something that people do

Well, from what I've heard, when transporting larger amounts of marijuana they don't go to that great of length for sight concealment. They wrap, rewrap, rewrap again, then again, and probably two or three more times. They may use charcoal filters in the process. I'm guessing that would stop the obvious smell but a drug dog is still going to smell it. That's why obvious hotspots like border crossings with dogs at the ready have such a high drug seizure rate (get it...high?...no but seriously I don't know what that would be compared against so a high *snicker* rate of seizures could be more than one I guess) . A regular traffic stop without looking in the trunk probably won't get you into trouble. The wrapping will also stop the carriers from thinking of skimming off the top. The aforementioned hiding weed inside containers of peanut butter, or somesuch, is supposed to be a totally sealed package not allowing "smell particles"(?) out so (allegedly) a dog wouldn't be able to detect it. But I'm sure an x-ray would still find the contents just fine.

All that I've just wrote might as will be fiction since I've never tried it, I never would, and I definitely wouldn't suggest.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:33 AM on July 28, 2009


In a somewhat related question, could I swap the send and return addresses on an envelope, drop it in the box without postage, and have it returned to the "sender" who is actually the intended recipient?

I asked the guy at the post office this today. He said "yeah sure, that would work. I don't know why someone would bother..."

I asked if you put a stamp on without enough postage, did it always come postage due or would they sometimes return it. He said that they get businesses sometimes sending mail without enough postage and he calls them to let them know they're going to be sending things to customers postage due which is bad for business "Usually they'll come in and pay the difference, or sometimes I pay it and then they've got an IOU to me next time they come in."

I asked if there was a way for them to verify sent/return addresses as legitimate, he said "No, how could we do that?"

He says he sees people trying various scams a lot, reusing postage ["don't you have ultraviolet postmarks?" I said "I don't really know" he said] the return address thing, some other stuff. He said if people are willing to go through that sort of effort over a few cents, they probably have bigger problems than worrying about getting in trouble with the post office "They're just ripping themselves off, or everyone off, we're paid from taxes among other things" he said.

Anyone have any other questions for the post office?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:34 PM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Skinny Elvis--what the fuck was that?
posted by box at 12:52 PM on July 28, 2009


Stamp Decoder
posted by HuronBob at 1:56 PM on July 28, 2009


I can't believe someone with a user number in the 17000s would post this MeTa.
posted by mediareport at 3:47 PM on July 28, 2009


I may've been a little late to the party, but as one of the people providing what would probably be classed as 'enabling' information, I'd like to paraphrase smoke further up the thread:

I find it funny that we worry about pot in the mail crossing a legality line, yet one of the best Ask.me's ever was effectively a how-to on GETTING RID OF A CORPSE.
posted by Dysk at 9:36 PM on July 28, 2009


If you wanted to make an actual complaint about ZOMG ILLEGAL DRUGS! then you should have made a post about this, instead of about some silly seeds.

I mean good god, I hope this person is not hoping to put that stuff in their body. Anything but that horrendous stuff. Diuretics, ephedrine, cocaine, caffeine, any stimulant except for this. Jeez, pick a steroid and go with that. It would be a quantum leap of a better choice than DNP. There's no safety valve, it will just keep "working".

If you want to get overly excited about a dangerous substance, there you go!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:17 PM on August 3, 2009


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