When it comes to marijuana, the US government has a sort of split personality. While one half of it legalizes it, medicalizes it, and proves it shrinks tumors, the other half spends millions of dollars on the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.

Luckily a couple of Washington lawmakers are trying to even things out a little with a new piece of legislation. Congressmen Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced a bill to the U.S. House of Representatives last week that would eradicate and suppress the eradication/suppression program.

“As multiple states legalize marijuana across our nation, it is a huge waste of federal resources for the DEA to eradicate marijuana,” Lieu said in a statement. “The federal government should focus its precious resources on other issues and let the states innovate in the cannabis field.”

Amash argued further that the program in question was not about a moral crusade for the DEA and federal government, but instead a fundraising program that profited from asset seizures. “Civil asset forfeiture allows innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process, and this program encourages civil asset forfeiture by allowing the DEA to use the proceeds of seized property to fund marijuana prohibition enforcement,” Amash said. “This is especially troubling given that the federal government should not be expending resources on marijuana prohibition — enforcement is a state-level issue, and an increasing number of states are deciding to back off from prohibition.”

If the law passes (it has bipartisan authors, which is a good sign but no guarantee) it will put an end to a wasteful and fairly pointless program, but it won’t put an end to marijuana enforcement. Even full legalization, which seems inevitable at this point, will only bring on a new era of cannabis criminality. Prohibition ended over 80 years ago, but moonshining is still illegal. Selling untaxed, uncertified tobacco is a crime even though cigarettes are legal. Selling grape juice off the grid in a large enough quantity could constitute a felony.

So, the feds backing off marijuana is a good thing. And legalization is too for the most part. But proprietors in the cannabis industry aren’t necessarily people who love to be a part of the system. As long as that’s true, there will always be cannabis criminals and an eradication program to counter them.


Photo via hemp.org