Despite an increasing number of states passing laws allowing cannabis to be cultivated and used for medicinal and recreational purposes, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to distribute funds to state and local police agencies for the sole purpose of conducting seek and destroy missions on cultivation sites.
Federal lawmakers are working to tear down the walls at the DEA by putting an end to one of the agency’s most controversial agendas. Earlier this week, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu and Republican Representative Justin Amash submitted a piece of legislation on Capitol Hill aimed at finally doing away with the DEA’s marijuana eradication program.
The goal of this bipartisan measure is to prevent funds from being used – at both the federal and state level – to destroy a plant that is predicted to be legal across the majority of the nation within the next five years.
“As multiple states legalize marijuana across our nation, it is a huge waste of federal resources for the DEA to eradicate marijuana,” said Representative Lieu in a statement. “The federal government should focus its precious resources on other issues and let the states innovate in the cannabis field.”
The DEA eradication program began receiving funding nearly 40 years ago in Hawaii and California. It didn’t take long before it was expanded to all 50 states. In 2014, agents reportedly seized almost 4 million cannabis plants, which led to the arrest of 6,310 people and the seizure of nearly $30 million in assets. Representative Amash argues that the DEA has become the criminal in the United States and all of their efforts to capitalize on the prohibition of marijuana should be brought to a screeching halt.
“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.”
Cannabis reformers applaud these lawmakers for going up against an agency that, after an embarrassing year of high profile scandals involving prostitutes and ties to cartels, has made a mockery out of itself and the nation it is supposed to serve. Now, there is growing consensus among many influential powers in Congress that the DEA is no longer needed to control marijuana in the United States. If this bill can somehow secure enough Republican support to set it in motion, it could prove one of the most substantial reforms in 2016.
Should the DEA stop targeting cannabis cultivation sites? Share your thoughts in the comments.