Return to Sender: local businesses receive packages of marijuana

Packages of marijuana can come in all shapes and sizes. While investigating this story, many people came forward saying they had seen envelopes containing cannabis seeds to large packages containing pounds of marijuana flower. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

MEDFORD, Ore. - For years, people have tried sending marijuana across state lines.

Sometimes when packages bounce back, they don't get returned to the sender.

"I lost some sleep over it considering the livelihood of the barbershop and the people who work here is everything to me," Zach Owens, owner of Old School Barbershop and Salon in Medford, said.

In an effort to protect themselves, people who send cannabis sometimes use falsified return addresses - either making one up or using somebody else's business card, which is what happened to Owens.

"I'm going to end up on some TV show about my whole life falling down the drain as somebody using my return address as being me," Owens joked.

The Post Master General contacted Zach Owens asking if he had sent a package full of pot or if they had sent any packages at all.

"I don't ship anything from my location," Owens said. "I more receive stuff like clippers and stuff from Amazon so nothing ever really leaves my shop."

Next to his shop, Astral Games has gone through the same thing - three different times with packages going to New York, Texas and Nevada.

Both Astral Games locations in Medford and Grants Pass locations were alerted to their addresses being used.

"The Grants Pass location actually had a chance to open up the package and notice it did actually have marijuana in it," Aaron Hassell, the owner of Astral Games, said.

Hassell recalled his initial reaction to the first notice almost two years ago.

"Oh my gosh we're being targeted!" Hassell laughed. "What the heck is going on here?"

Owens remembered his reaction too from September.

"For somebody to use my address as the return address kind of really scared me that somebody else's actions could bring down everything I've worked for," Owens said.

Owens may not send packages, but Hassell does all the time.

"We keep records basically of the packages we do send out," Hassell said. "When they sent us these letters saying 'hey here's these people you're sending to or supposedly sending these packages to,' we were able to deny it and say this is not the case."

The fact the two businesses sit next to each other along Central Avenue in Medford may just be a coincidence. Neither business believes they were targeted specifically after talking with the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team.

Either way, the senders don't want their packages returned to their own homes for their own safety.

"There's individuals out there that think that the best way to not have it traced back to them is to put a random address on it," Hassell said.

Falsifying the address makes law enforcement's job much more difficult and could force investigations to take years. Read more on law enforcement's involvement and postal service response on Tuesday only on Watch Return to Sender part two on KTVL News 10 on Tuesday.

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