Marijuana: DEA Under Fire for ‘Wasteful’ Enforcement Operations

According to a report published by the Russian news service RT, the US Drug Enforcement Administration has come under attack for carrying out raids in States where marijuana has been legalized as part of an overall trend towards decriminalization. At the same time the DEA has also been drawing down huge sums of money from the Federal Administration in an endeavor to continue its Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, which has been in place for some thirty years.

Documents originally obtained through a response to a Freedom of Information request from the Drug Enforcement Administration Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Unit by Drew Atkins at the Seattle Times, through MuckRock, form the basis of the RT report, which is suggestive of vast sums of tax dollars being wasted. In October of last year, a month after the DEA’s initial response, eight members of Congress sent a joint letter to the Government Accountability Office challenging the wasteful expenditure in no uncertain terms; calling into question the necessity of the program in a government environment which is moving further and further towards legalization.

Atkins’ article, which appeared in the Seattle Times on January 6th, highlights the fact that the DEA ‘spends millions of taxpayer dollars each year to eradicate illegal marijuana plants — even in Washington state, where the drug has been legal since 2012.’ The exact figure being spent nationally on the program by Federal Government amounts to some $18 million in total. Perhaps the most scandalous statistic uncovered by Atkins is the fact that Washington State, where the drug has been legalized for recreational use for over four years, is ‘the nation’s fourth-largest recipient of eradication funding’. And, the additional fact that some $760,000 in tax dollars is being handed over to a State where the drug is legal, and where each plant seized and destroyed costs taxpayers over six times the national average, makes the situation even more alarming.

Last month this website reported that the then recent DEA Scheduling of CBD as a Schedule 1 Drug was likely to face law suits in the wake of an announcement by the Hoban Law Group in Denver. An earlier report into plans by the DEA to similarly categorize the herbal compound Kratom, which is widely used as a herbal pain killer as well as a therapeutic treatment for those with addictions to Opioids and other prescription drugs, prompted similar outrage.

At the heart of the current problem is the ‘Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs‘ (1961), the principal international treaty which is administered by the UN and prohibits production and supply of specific narcotic substances and their derivatives. Thus, the availability of such drugs is restricted purely to those which are made under licence for medical treatment and scientific research. A recent UN Strategy Document, compiled in the wake of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs, which took place from 19 to 21 April 2016 at the UN Headquarters in New York, has concluded that the situation which the Federal Government and other national and international agencies currently face is because the true facts were systematically sidelined for decades.

According to the report’s authors: ‘Authoritative studies suggesting that there was no need to impose international prohibition-oriented controls on cannabis were largely ignored. Rather, activist delegations and key individuals from within the international drug control bureaucracy itself were successful in privileging sensationalist “research” findings to gradually bring cannabis into the increasingly prohibition focused multilateral control architecture. Pseudoscientific, often racist, reports of cannabis’ links to insanity, crime, moral decline, and its role as a gateway to other drugs succeeded in demonizing the substance and its users.’


Picture Credits: Shay Sowden Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rupert Ferguson
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Rupert Ferguson

Journalist at Distract The Media
Rupert Ferguson is a published author, journalist and radical film maker with specialist interests in local government, politics, environmental issues and Traditional English and Scottish Folk Music. His academic work has been endorsed by the likes of Sir Melvyn Bragg, the late Sir James Watt KBE and the former head of Humanities at Bingley College in Yorkshire, England; James Reed.

Having begun his career as a junior researcher at Thames Television in London, he has written for a wide range of publications including 'The Brighton Reporter', 'Durham Town and Country', 'The Brighton and Hove People' and 'The New Celtic Review'. As an exhibited film maker he has been a regular contributor and award nominee at the Portobello Film Festival in London; and has seen his work shown at the annual London Film Makers' Convention at the prestigious Round House Theatre.

As well as receiving enthusiastic reviews from BBC Radio 4 and others for his book on Sir Walter Scott, his pioneering work as an Underground Film Maker on the fledgeling Goa Trance Scene has set him in a field of his own amongst many of his contemporaries; both in the UK, where he presently resides, and elsewhere. Current projects presently in hand include a book centred on his 'Legendary London' series of documentary films, which have stimulated an enthusiastic response from the likes of Glenda Jackson and others; and a novel set in France and Edinburgh during the eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment.

For more about Rupert, his endorsements and points of contact please follow the link to his linked-in profile:
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