The DEA has been trying to eradicate marijuana plants across the country for a long time, without success. I live in Oregon, which voted to legalize marijuana in 2014. Yet, despite marijuana’s current legal status in Oregon, the DEA still spends tax payer dollars eradicating marijuana plants, up to $60 per plant. That is an obvious waste of tax money that could be going towards better things, which is something that 12 members of Congress agree with. Per the Washington Post:
Unfortunately for the DEA, the year isn’t over yet. Last week, a group of 12 House members led by Ted Lieu (D) of California wrote to House leadership to push for a provision in the upcoming spending bill that would strip half of the funds away from the DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program and put that money toward 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 efforts.
Each year, the DEA spends about $18 million in efforts with state and local authorities to pull up marijuana plants being grown indoors and outdoors. The program has been plagued by scandal and controversy in recent years. In the mid-2000s, it became clear that the overwhelming majority of “marijuana” plants netted by the program were actually “ditchweed,” or the wild, non-cultivated, non-psychoactive cousin of the marijuana that people smoke.
Below is an excerpt from the letter that was sent to House leadership:
Throughout the country, states are increasingly turning away from marijuana prohibition and enacting alternative policies to lower crime rates, free up limited law enforcement resources, and keep drugs out of the hands of children. To date, four states have legalized recreational marijuana, and 23 states now allow marijuana for medical use. There has also been a great deal of movement on the science behind marijuana, and consequently, the marijuana policy landscape in Congress has shifted to more closely match the needs of the states we represent.
We write to you concerning House Amendment 296 to H.R. 2578, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016. This commonsense amendment targeted $9 million dollars in the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) budget and redistributed it to three accounts that play a far more useful role in promoting the safety and economic prosperity of the American people: the Violence Against Women Act Youth-Oriented Program, the Victims of Child Abuse program, and the Spending Reduction Account. This amendment passed on voice vote without any opposition from either party. We urge you to include the substance of this amendment in any upcoming spending legislation, whether though a continuing resolution or an omnibus spending bill.
I would LOVE to hear why anyone would oppose this shift in resources away from a program that doesn’t work, towards ones that saves tax payers money and helps prevent domestic violence and child abuse. I would go even further and ask why Congress doesn’t reallocate the entire 18 million, instead of just 9 million? Regardless of which political party someone associates with, this is a very smart move that everyone should support.