March 1, 2010

DEA Marijuana Seizures in 2009

March 1, 2010

The DEA released stats on marijuana seizures for 2009, and the numbers are up. In 2009 there were 2,980 metric tons seized by the DEA across the nation, compared to 1,539 last year. The stats were disclosed as part of a budget request for fiscal 2011.When asked why there was such a significant rise, the DEA refused to speculate. “Several factors play into this number and in any given year the amount of drugs seized by DEA can fluctuate,” said spokesman David Ausiello.

The DEA budget request (see link) included some interesting grammar when referring to state medical marijuana program participants. “DEA does not investigate or target individual ‘patients’ who use cannabis, but instead the drug trafficking organizations involved in marijuana trafficking,” (note the quotation marks around patient). The request went on to state that there has been no FDA research showing any benefits of medical marijuana. That is interesting, considering the FDA bans federally funded research!

Unlike the DEA, I am willing to speculate about a few reasons why there has been such a dramatic rise in marijuana seizures. There are many reasons, but there are a few obvious ones. One large reason is the fact that the DEA works with state, county, and city law enforcement to eradicate most marijuana grow operations, as a part of agency policy. Back in the day, if law enforcement stumbled upon a grow operation through an investigation, they would do their confiscations and arrests, and let the local court system take it from there. But now due to RICO laws, increased communication and bureaucratic overlap after 9/11, and 8 years of neo-conservative DEA appointments under the Bush Administration, the feds are more active than ever in the ‘war on marijuana.’

Another reason is the rise of large-scale, cartel grow operations. It is logical to conclude that smuggling marijuana is a lot harder after 9/11, so these organizations are taking their operations into the United States and setting up shop. I don’t mind law enforcement going after these types of growers, because they give the movement a bad name for sure. Another area of black market penetration is along the Canadian border. After Operation Frozen Timer, it became hard, if not impossible, to reliably get pot over the border the good old fashioned way (in a helicopter in hockey bags). A lot of Asian cartels are taking their grow lights across the border and purchasing ‘rent to owns’ in Washington and Oregon and going big indoors. There have been several busts in the Northwest this year in suburban neighborhoods fitting these circumstances. The houses are plentiful due to the housing market fallout.

Finally, there is more and more people growing weed and smoking it every day. Senior citizens are puffing down, college students are smoking as hard as ever, and baby boomers need their ‘grass’ in order to cope with the stress of the recession. Someone has to be growing and transporting all that weed to the market! And where there is more weed being grown and sold, there is sure to be the DEA boogey man to follow. Keep fighting in your area for rescheduling, decriminalization, medical marijuana, and legalization. The momentum is in our favor, and pretty soon, the DEA won’t be able to seize marijuana anymore. If current trends persist, that’s 2,980 more metric tons a year for us to smoke; talk about incentive!!!


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