DEA Marijuana Eradication: A Failure?


Few things have come to symbolize the anti-marijuana hysteria of the United States government like the federal Drug Enforcement’s Agency much-maligned Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP).

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Since 1979, the DCE/SP program has provided millions of federal tax dollars to state and local police agencies for the express purpose of rooting out illegal marijuana grow operations, destroying cultivated marijuana, and arresting anyone involved in the cultivation, transportation and sale of marijuana.

The DEA has long considered DCE/SP as one of the agency’s crown jewels and a shining example of the DEA’s unstoppable power as an anti-drug crusader.

The reality, however, is that not only has the program been a dismal failure, it may very well have led to an increase in marijuana cultivation by forcing many grow operations indoors, away from the prying eyes of the authorities.

According to figures provided by the DEA, funding and support provided by the program was responsible for the seizure and destruction of 4,300,833 marijuana plants in 2014. Of that total, 3.9 million were from outdoor grow operations, while 396,620 were grown indoors.

The cost of these seizures to American tax payers was approximately 18 million dollars, or an average of $4.18 cents per plant.

However, the average cost does not tell the whole story.

For instance, in 2014, the DEA spent $960,000, or around $60 per plant, to eradicate 16,067 marijuana plants in the state of Oregon – which had legalized marijuana two years earlier, in 2012.

Many sources, however, question both the number and the quality of the marijuana seized, claiming the DEA has a tendency to grossly inflate both the quantity and quality of the marijuana it seizes.

The agency’s tendency to make outrageous claims regarding the ‘success’ of the program has come under heavy fire in recent years by members of Congress, who have been steadily working towards defunding and eliminating the program.

Although Congress has not yet successfully accomplished that goal, it is encouraging to see that members have finally realized that the ongoing war on marijuana is a horrible waste of taxpayer dollars  and law enforcement resources.

One day in the not-so-distant future, DCE/SP will almost certainly be eliminated as America continues to move towards legalization and a more common-sense drug policy.


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