Lawmakers Demand DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program Be Defunded

Lawmakers Demand DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program Be Defunded

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** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS OCT. 1-2 ** A Drug Enforcement Administration agent hands a freshly-pulled marijuana plant off to another law enforcement officer as they work to clear a patch of the week planted beneath a spread of native flora on national forest land near Entiant, Wash., Sept. 20, 2005. Police confiscated 465 marijuana plants at the so-called "garden," a small find compared to the thousands of other plants confiscated on some other busts in the area. The illegal marijuana growing operations are wreaking havoc on counties with huge tracts of open space and few resources to tackle them. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program is looking increasingly anachronistic me. Launched in the 1970’s and expanding through the 1980’s “Just Say No” era, the DCESP essentially serves as a federal hub for state and local law enforcement agencies to pool resources and information in the fight against growing weed. But even now as the nation’s population and laws become more and more tolerant of cannabis, the program seems less and less necessary to the country.

But now federal lawmakers are pointing out that not only does a federal program to eliminate domestic cultivation seem ridiculous, it’s not even effective. Though the DCESP boasts seizing over 4.3 million cannabis plants in 2014 and approximately the same amount the year before, a letter from 12 US congressman released last week says that most of those cannabis plants are actually ditch weed.

“The Cannabis Eradication Program’s sole mission is to eradicate marijuana plants and arrest growers,” reads the letter, which was penned by Democratic Representative Ted Lieu and 11 other lawmakers. “However, historical data indicates that the vast majority of plants seized under this program are wild plants descendant from industrial hemp. They are not intentionally grown, and they are not suitable for recreational or medical use. Therefore, the seizure of these plants has served neither an economic nor public-safety nor a health-related purpose. Its sole impact has been to expend limited federal resources that are better spent elsewhere.”

The purpose of the letter is to spur on other representatives in the House to support Lieu’s proposed amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016, an act that budgets the annual spending of several government agencies including the DEA. The proposed amendment would cut the DEA’s annual cannabis eradication budget in half from $18 million to $9 million.

The amendment would redistribute money cut from the DCESP to more worthy federal endeavors like putting $4 million toward the Violence Against Women Act Youth-Oriented Program and another $4 million toward the Victims of Child Abuse program.

“Despite the programs’ proven ineffectiveness and the seismic shift in attitudes on marijuana policy within Congress and across our nation, the DEA continues to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression program, spending $18 million in 2014 alone,” Rep. Lieu writes in the letter. “There is no justification for spending this kind of money on an antiquated program never shown to be effective.”

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