U.S.: Some Members Of Congress Ready To Call It Quits On Marijuana Eradication
By Steve Elliott
The Drug Enforcement Administration is continuing its losing streak. Last week, 12 House members led by Democrat Ted Lieu of California wrote to House leadership asking for a provision in an upcoming spending bill that would strip half the funds from the DEA's Cannabis Eradication Program and instead spend that money on programs that "play a far more useful role in promoting the safety and economic prosperity of the American people": domestic violence prevention and overall spending reduction.
The DEA pisses away about $18 million a year in coordination with state and local authorities to pull up marijuana plants being grown both indoors and outdoors. The ineffectual program has been plagued with scandal, controversy, and ridicule. In the mid-2000s, it was revealed that most of the "marijuana" plants pulled up in the program were actually ditchweed, feral hemp plants that contain almost no THC, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.
Overzealous marijuana eradicators have recently launched heavily armed SWAT raids on okra plants, and warned the Utah Legislature about the threat posed by stoned rabbits who had "cultivated a taste for the marijuana." Last year, the DEA spent an average of about $4.20 (seriously) for each marijuana plant it uprooted. In some states, taxpayers paid nearly $60 per uprooted plant for "eradication" efforts.
The ineffectiveness of the program is illustrated by the fact that after 36 years of federal marijuana eradication efforts, the share of Americans who have tried cannabis has nearly doubled, to 44 percent.
"The seizure of these plants has served neither an economic nor public-safety nor a health-related purpose," wrote Lieu and his colleagues. "Its sole impact has been to expend limited federal resoureces that are better spent elsewhere."
The letter-writers noted that a provision to strip $9 million from the marijuana eradication program passed on a voice vote earlier this year, "without any opposition from either party." They urged leadership to include the provision in must-pass spending bill later this year.
Next year Lieu intends to introduce a measure "to eliminate the program completely."
Graphic: Florida Department of Agriculture