DEA reports significant increase in marijuana-related seizures and arrests

Federal law enforcement officers and their partners seized more than 5.5 million grown marijuana plants and made more than 6,600 marijuana-related arrests in 2021, according to annual data compiled by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to figures published in the DEA’s National Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program Statistical Report, agents and their partners confiscated approximately 5.53 million cultivated cannabis plants last year, an increase of 20 percent. compared to 2020 totals. Law enforcement also reported making 6,606 marijuana-related arrests, a 25% increase over the previous year’s totals (when officers reported 4,992 arrests ).

The totals are the highest reported by the agency since 2011, when it said it made about 8,500 marijuana-related arrests and seized some 6.7 million plants through its nationwide eradication program. Since then, annual arrests have generally been below 6,000 per year, while cannabis seizures fell to an all-time high in 2018 (when an estimated 2.8 million plants were confiscated).

Commenting on the data, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “At a time when the overwhelming majority of voters support legalization, and when more and more states – and even members of Congress – s are moving in this direction, it is troubling to see federal agents and their local partners reversing course and reinvigorating their marijuana law enforcement activities.

NORML Policy Director Morgan Fox added, “The fact that these prohibition efforts are growing — at great cost to the taxpayer — despite the growing momentum for legalization speaks to the failure of federal prohibition. and unnecessarily burdensome state regulatory policies. Lack of access to banking services and capital, high barriers to entry into legal cannabis markets, and exorbitant tax rates at all levels of government clearly hamper the ability of licensed cannabis businesses to compete with the unregulated market. The solutions to this situation are more than obvious at this point, and they do not involve law enforcement endangering themselves by dropping helicopters or carrying out armed raids. It is incumbent on policymakers to pursue evidence-based, market-driven, and justice-oriented policies to minimize unregulated cannabis activity, and they have never had a better opportunity to do so.

Federal agents and their local partners also reported the seizure of $103 million in assets in 2021 under the program, more than double the amount seized in 2020. The report also reported for the first time seizures of processed marijuana products, including THC oils and wax. , as well as seizures of infused edibles.

As in previous years, the overwhelming percentage of plant seizures (86%) and arrests (60%) nationwide occurred in California. Law enforcement also reported confiscating large amounts of cultivated plants in Kentucky (317,621) and Oklahoma (158,124).

DCE/SP began funding eradication programs in Hawaii and California in 1979, and has since expanded to nearly every state.

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