Federal pot crackdowns shrink due to budget woes

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez |

Pot seizures are slowing down in the U.S., as the gnarliest NARCs in the nation scale back helicopter junkets thanks to a dwindling budget.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s cannabis seizures are down from last year, The Washington Post is reporting.

The DEA’s Cannabis Eradication program destroyed a record 10.4 million plants in 2009, in the year President Obama took office.

Last year only 4.3 million plants were destroyed, according to the DEA.

Still, that’s a lot of wasted green.

The pot pillagers at the DEA are funded by the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program, which gave $18 million to eradicate grow sites last year. California made up the bulk of that haul, WaPo reports, with 63 percent of eradicated plants coming from the Golden State.

That’s 2.7 million California pot plants grinded (and not in the good way). Nearly all of the plants eradicated were at outdoor gardens.

But seizures in California fell too. So what’s easing the pain? Advocacy group NORML has an answer, and it relates to the state:

“Coinciding largely with the downsizing of, and then ultimately the disbanding of, the state’s nearly 30-year-old Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program, DEA-assisted annual marijuana seizures in California have fallen over 60 percent percent since 2010,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, in an email.

Early this year Attorney General Eric Holder put limits on how law enforcement could seize property. Dwindling funds from property seizures meant dwindling funds for the DEA.

So cannabis users win, cannabis growers win, and people targeted by seizures win.

The feds? Not so much.

Image of Burning hashish seized in Operation Albatross, a joint operation of Afghan officials, NATO and the DEA, is public domain, by the Drug Enforcement Administration.