Due to proposed cuts in funding to the National Guard Counter-drug Program by President Obama, Oregon may cease all helicopter patrols for marijuana grow-ops statewide beginning next year. Apparently, the massive cost of the operation is simply too high, relative to the benefits of an air assault on cannabis. The Baker City Herald reported that “Baker County Sheriff Mitch Southwick is worried that proposed cuts in the federal budget will weaken local law enforcement’s ability to stop illegal marijuana-growing operations.” The Herald went on to say, “While [Sheriff] Southwick isn’t overly concerned about this year, how the proposed cuts would affect operations next year is unknown. The number of growing areas found in the county has been decreasing over recent years.”
According to a letter from U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore, to the Senate Appropriations Committee pleading for additional funds to keep up the patrols, "Under the proposed budget, funding for the Program in Oregon would be cut by 66 percent. This level of funding would significantly reduce, if not eliminate, all counter-drug air support for law enforcement within Oregon.” Senator Merkley is on a dangerous political path, when most Americans are sick of seeing our government spend billions playing army, while our institutions crumble for lack of funding. He also stated, "Because the drug traffickers operate in areas inaccessible to vehicles and miles from the nearest trailhead, the use of the ONG’s (Oregon National Guard’s) helicopters are often the only way to find, eradicate, and, after a successful operation, clean up the grow sites." One alternative solution would be to outfit Senator Merkley with a good pair of boots, and let him patrol Oregon himself. Perhaps the rest of his drug warrior cronies could join him. It’s about time they started working for a living like the rest of us.
The cuts are part of Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins on Oct. 1, 2012. It's great to see Obama is pulling some funds back from the War on Drugs. Let's hope this trend continues nationally. It's a reality that our government cannot ignore forever--The War on Drugs is no longer financially feasible, and Americans are unwilling to continue funding it, especially if those funds are being spent targeting marijuana. If you are an Oregonian, and you want Senator Merkley to stop his mission to continue burning money on this fruitless endeavor, you can contact him here: