Marijuana is legal almost everywhere, but weed-induced busts are increasing
While marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use in more than half of the United States, that hasn’t stopped federal Gung-Ho medicines from taking action. The latest report from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) finds that the cannabis eradication team has been busy over the past year seizing millions of cannabis plants and putting thousands of criminals in jail.
The DEA is annual Statistical Report of the Domestic Cannabis Eradication / Suppression Program shows that the agency, along with state and local police agencies, seized more than 4.5 million cannabis plants in the past year (about half a million more than in 2019) and arrested 5,000 people for various pot-related crimes.
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“In 2020, the DEA continued its nationwide cannabis eradication efforts and provided resources to support the 127 state and local law enforcement agencies actively participating in the program.” explained the agency. “This support enables the improvement of already aggressive eradication enforcement activities across the country.”
But weeds are mostly legal, so what’s up?
There is no doubt that many of the people arrested on federal marijuana charges last year broke the law. Cannabis remains a dangerous Schedule I drug in the eyes of our old Uncle Sam, even though some states legalize it.
It’s no secret that cannabis breeders, even in constitutional states, often bend the rules (or ignore them altogether) to feed the black market. Just look at the Emerald Triangle, part of Northern California’s forestry in Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties. Many weed farmers in these areas are still not in the legal sector – and they have no plans to join anytime soon. As more states become legal, this could explain the influx of busts over the past year. More cannabis plants are being grown everywhere, legally and otherwise.
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DEA agents aren’t just sitting around updating their résumés and thinking about what they’re going to do when marijuana finally becomes legal across the country. No, agents will continue to bring offenders outside the law to their knees until the federal government legalizes them and removes funding from them.
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Should the average pot consumer be concerned?
For the most part, law-abiding cannabis users are safe from the DEA. Still, cannabis advocates warn that in terms of the role of federal law enforcement agencies, marijuana is still a long way from being banned.
“While marijuana enforcement arguably doesn’t have the same priority as it used to for the DEA – likely due to changes in state policy and federal budgetary guidelines – that doesn’t mean the agency is content with looking the other way around federal marijuana violations.” “, Says the deputy director of NORML, Paul Armentano said in a statement.
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“There are still several thousand Americans arrested each year for federal marijuana violations – even at a time when seven in ten Americans believe the plant should be legal for adults to use and use have.”
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Most of the 5,000 marijuana-related arrests made last year are unlikely to result in jail time. Some won’t even result in conviction. Federal law enforcement for marijuana trafficking has been declining for years.
A report The U.S. Criminal Police Commission notes that weed-related criminal prosecution has dried up since around 2012. Marijuana is no longer such a big deal for prosecutors. No, they focus on clearing away drug dealers who hurl the hard stuff. Most of their efforts are being used to prosecute federal methamphetamine cases. For those pot offenders who go to jail, the report finds that most are sentenced to an average of 18 months. Again, these are not simple possessions people convicted of marijuana trafficking.