Federal law enforcement agents and their local partners throughout the United States made fewer weed-related arrests in 2019. But when they did, they seized an estimated four million marijuana plants, making off with nearly 45% more cannabis than they did in 2018.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also announced that the number of arrests made and the targeting of cultivation sites declined by 16% in 2019.
The arrest of 4,718 people, though the second-lowest number in a decade, is still too many, say advocates.
“[t]hese totals affirm that targeting marijuana-related growing operations still remains a DEA priority, even at a time when most Americans have made it clear that they want cannabis policies to head in a very different direction,” said Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
NORML noted, for example, that in 2011, the DEA seized over 8.7 million cannabis plants and made over 8,500 arrests as part of its Eradication/Suppression activities, which came under scrutiny in 2018 for not properly utilizing available documentation from local authorities when carrying out eradication raids.
The spike in plant seizures in 2019 was likely due to an increase in cultivation activity in California where law enforcement eradicated 1,344 outdoor grow sites statewide – up from 889 in 2018.
Nearly 3.2 million plants, nearly twice the previous year’s total, were seized in California in 2019.
However, on January 1, 2018 when adult-use cannabis sales began in California, marijuana plant seizures fell nearly 30 percent from the prior year.
That was until February 2019 when California Governor Gavin Newsom sent shock waves through Northern California’s cannabis growing community when he announced in his state of the state address that he was intending to redeploy 150 National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border to “go after illegal cannabis farms.” Hence, the sudden uptick in seizures in 2019.
The DEA tracks these figures in its annual Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical reports then publishes them as part of their annual data.
The agency’s report includes “science-based information about the harms and consequences of drug use,” which serves to describe a drug’s effects on the body, mind, overdose potential, origin, legal status, etc. was pleased to inform us that, once again, “no deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.”
So, as our tax dollars work overtime to finance the DEA’s scientific pursuits, we can at least rest assured that smoking weed won’t kill us.
Whew…what a relief!