While parts of the United States are now generating millions of tax dollars from the sale of marijuana to put toward the betterment of their communities, Indiana continues to waste valuable resources to aggressively eradicate pot plants from Hoosier soil—all at the expense of the state’s taxpayers.
The latest Southern Indiana shakedown was touted “Operation Smoke Out,” a shoot-the-moon collaboration between Indiana State Police (ISP) and military forces, including the Indiana National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, the DEA, the U.S. Forest Service, Civil Air Patrol and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Together, these soldiers of the drug war embarked on a mission at the end of August to uproot “dangerous” cannabis plants illegally growing in cornfields, in forests and on public lands all across the southern portion of the state. At the end of this battle against the bud, Indiana law enforcement proudly announced that the exercise resulted in a haul of approximately 5,000 pot plants from 146 grow sites, four pounds of processed marijuana and the arrest of 16 people associated with these operations.
Indiana State Police estimates the overall seizure is worth a whopping $7.5 million.
Indiana is spending millions of dollars in annual tax revenue to train state police and the National Guard to conduct raids against illegal marijuana operations, while Colorado’s legal cannabis trade is generating upwards of $60 million in tax revenue per year that is being used to fund schools and other state projects—all without an increase in crime.
Earlier this year, High Times reported that instead of hearing modest legislation aimed at reforming some of the state’s antiquated pot laws, Indiana commissioned a military training center to better prepare local police officers to protect the community from the scourge of marijuana—you know, the same natural substance that has been legalized for medical and recreational purposes in over half the nation.
During these training sessions, the last of which took place in July, Indiana cops got to live out their Hollywood wet dream of becoming live action heroes, dressing in full G.I. Joe garb and jumping out of helicopters strapped with high-powered assault weapons—all at the expense of working class citizens. These campaigns are essentially military summer camps for over-zealous police officers that have completely bought in to decades of the government’s pot propaganda and reefer madness.
It will be interesting in the next couple of years, as more of the country legalizes marijuana, to see how Indiana responds to demands to finally end its ultra-prohibitionary standards. As it stands, all of Indiana’s neighboring states have either legalized, decriminalized or are working to change their pot laws. Meanwhile, despite a 2013 poll indicating the majority of Hoosiers support a taxed and regulated pot market, Indiana has continued to spend around $40 million per year to enforce prohibition.