U.S.: Marijuana Eradication By Law Enforcement Down By 60 Percent

(Photo: Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Law enforcement's eradication of marijuana plants has plunged by more than 60 percent in the last few years, from a record high of more than 20 million plants in 2009 and 2010 to fewer than 4 million plants in 2012, according to newly released federal statistics.

The number of cannabis plants eradicated dropped to 6,735,511 in 2011 and 3,933,950 in 2012, far less than goal of 9 million plants that the Drug Enforcement Administration had hoped to destroy, report Ryan J. Reilly and Matt Sledge at The Huffington Post.

Red-faced DEA officials blamed the steep decline in part on California, claiming in the agency's 2014 budget proposal that the Golden State's financial troubles resulted in "the decreased availability of local law enforcement personnel to assist in eradication efforts."

(Illustration: The Huffington Post)The DEA also claimed that "drug trafficking organizations" are shifting their cultivation efforts from public lands to private grow areas, and that those who do still grow in parks and on other public land tend to locate in "vast mountainous regions, which are more difficult for law enforcement to detect and reach."

Not content to go after the traffickers, the DEA also tried to tar medical marijuana growers with the same broad brush. Some of the agricultural cannabis grow sites have "operated under the guise of its state's medical marijuana laws," the agency claimed.

The agency has also apparently gained a newfound expertise when it comes to cultivating cannabis. The DEA budget request helpfully explains that plants cultivated on agricultural grows are "super-sized and more robust" and can product larger quantities of marijuana.

DEA bureaucrats didn't miss the opportunity to complain about the growing trend of marijuana legalization. Their budget request whined that cannabis legalization "would increase accessibility and encourage promotion and acceptance of drug use" (gee, we thought alcohol legalization had already done that).

Seizures of dried marijuana along the nation's borders have also decreased, according to the U.S. Border Patrol's budget report. Cannabis seizures were down to 2,999,000 pounds in 2012, down 9 percent from 2011. However, Border Patrol agents arrested 7 percent more people attempting to illegally cross the border.

"While the DEA cites the 'decreased availability of local law enforcement personnel to assist in eradication efforts' as a reason it's having a hard time enforcing marijuana prohibition, it validates the state-by-state strategy" of cannabis law reform advocates, said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

(Photo: Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee)