Although there has been a total repeal of marijuana prohibition in the state of Oregon, a recent report has found that the federal government is still sending the state’s law enforcement well over a half million dollars to be used in the uprooting of cannabis plants.
According to documents obtained by KGW-TV, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will pay $750,000 to Oregon police this year to continue busting marijuana operations all over the state. This compensation—aimed at thwarting the moonshiners of the cannabis trade—is all part of the DEA’s nearly 40-year-old marijuana eradication program.
The problem, however, is that this government agenda is being paid for by taxpayers in states where the voters have determined that weed should be legal.
“I think the DEA’s marijuana eradication program is a huge waste of federal taxpayer dollars,” Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, told KGW. “We have states like Oregon, Washington and Colorado that have legalized marijuana, and then you’ve got the federal government trying to eradicate it. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Last week, Lieu and his Republican counterpart Justin Amash of Michigan introduced a measure to the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at eliminating the DEA’s $18 million cannabis eradication program. This bipartisan effort would not only prevent this agency from spending tax dollars to destroy a plant that has been legalized in some form in over half the nation, but it would also stop them from cashing in on civil asset forfeitures.
Law enforcement in Oregon will spend the majority of its DEA money flying helicopters over the state in search of cannabis grow sites. Essentially, Uncle Sam is providing them with hundreds of thousands of dollars, courtesy of American taxpayers, to be used for seek and destroy missions against a plant that the majority of the population has said should be legal.
In 2014, these types of drug warrior operations cost Oregon around $275,000 in police overtime and $685,000 for the use of a helicopter—all money that could be spent on anything else now that weed is legal.
However, the DEA argues that the continued funding of the eradication program in necessary in order to fight dastardly domestic drug traffickers and ruthless Mexican cartels that use public land to grow weed for the black market. Yet, in 2014, the program only accounted for the destruction of around 16,000 cannabis plants, which is significantly less than the almost 28,000 they uprooted in 2012. This decline in seized plants is likely attributed to cartels involving themselves in the trafficking of methamphetamine and heroin, while leaving marijuana to the gringos in the legal sector.
Some police agencies in Oregon agree that federal money is no longer needed for marijuana enforcement. Jackson County Sheriff Corey Falls said that while they once “needed that money… now we don’t.”
Unfortunately, until the DEA is defunded or a substantial federal reform comes down from the top, taxpayers will be forced to finance the snuffing of stoned America—even those taxpayers who adamantly support ending prohibition altogether. Let’s just hope that Lieu and Amash can collect enough support for their legislation to elicit some essential changes to how the DEA spends our money in 2016.