Despite mountains of evidence shredding the DEA’s claim cannabis has no medical value, the agency continues to wage war on the invaluable plant, spending millions on an anachronistic “marijuana eradication” program with egregiously wasteful results — like last year’s $58,400 allocated to Utah — where it found exactly zero plants.
As journalist Drew Atkins discovered via a records request, that’s $58,400 in tax money taken from the American public, who, overwhelmingly in recent years have come to favor the eradication of cannabis prohibition — rather than cannabis.
Nearly as absurd as the Utah marijuana eradication attempt, the Washington Post reported, the Drug Enforcement Administration gave the State of New Hampshire $20,000 last year for eradicating the marijuana — and netted a single grow operation comprising a mere 27 cannabis plants.
As the Post calculated, American taxpayers shelled out $740.74 for each plant in that meager and unnecessary bust.
Nevertheless, the DEA continues its vain attempt to wipe out marijuana from the United States at our expense — whether or not taxpayers approve — and, in many cases, regardless of its legal status.
Although reduced from a budget of $18 million in 2014, the annihilation of the cannabis plant still somehow necessitates $14 million this fiscal year, the Post noted, delegated to states in wildly disproportionate amounts, with some — like Alaska, Vermont, North and South Dakota, and Colorado — not receiving any funding at all.
California, where medical use is legal and cannabis has been decriminalized, received $5.4 million in 2015 and netted 2.6 million plants, according to DEA records cited by the Post, “in part because the ‘Emerald Triangle’ region of Northern California. The area has long been home to many of the state’s legal and quasi-legal marijuana production operations, but law enforcement authorities have maintained that it also has been a haven for the grow operations of Mexican drug cartels.”
A mishmash of varied laws governing the legality and criminality of marijuana have resulted from federal prohibition — an outdated and unpopular ban reinforced by the FDA and DEA recently after intimations the harmless plant might be rescheduled so as not to be considered as dangerous as heroin and cocaine.
This war on weed has clearly outlived any pretense of legitimacy and merely serves to fund for-profit prisons, flood courts, and permanently mar the records of otherwise non-violent, non-criminals. Last year, FBI data revealed a stunning 643,000 Americans — one person every 49 seconds — had been arrested for possession of cannabis.
That constitutes 43 percent of all drug arrests in the United States — where fully half the states have legalized medical use, four have fully legalized cannabis, and at least seven have incredibly popular initiatives for the November election that are either new or expansions of existing laws.
Although it hasn’t been given a snowball’s chance in hell at passing, New Jersey even proposed a law in September where weed would be treated like cigarettes — and sold in convenience stores accordingly to anyone aged 19 or older.
Kentucky still receives a staggering $1.9 million to pull up its marijuana plants, and the Post reported, “Rounding out the top 5 marijuana eradication states are Tennessee, Georgia and, perhaps unexpectedly, Washington. The aptly nicknamed Evergreen State legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, and pot shops opened for business in 2014. So it may seem odd that the DEA is spending $760,000 this year to eradicate pot plants in the state.”
Cannabis prohibition, and its parallel utterly wasteful eradication program, has outlived any viability and credibility it once might have, if ever, claimed. It’s time — and has been for decades — to end the war on drugs.