By Derrick Stanley
New numbers released by the Drug Enforcement Administration show that their controversial marijuana eradication program continued in full force last year. In 2015, roughly 4.1 million cultivated marijuana plants were uprooted by local, state, and federal authorities in all 50 states. The number was slightly less than the 4.3 million plants destroyed in 2014.
Federal spending on the program was $18 million, similar to the level spent in previous years.
The DEA program provides funding to law enforcement agencies to aggressively search for, seize, and destroy illegal marijuana grow across the country.
A group of lawmakers led by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA tried to pass legislation last year to redirect marijuana eradication funds to more productive uses, such as domestic violence prevention programs.
The effort was ultimately unsuccessful, and Lieu is dismayed to see the program continue. "Marijuana needs to be removed from Schedule I classification, and DEA should stop this wasteful program," he said via email.
The DEA did note that two states, Alaska and Colorado, declined to accept federal funds last year. Those states, where marijuana is now legal, conducted their own enforcement efforts against illegal marijuana grows.