Is the DEA’s marijuana eradication program worth the $14 million to fund annually? Here’s a look at some numbers
Published: Oct 10, 2016, 6:33 am • Updated: about 5 hours ago Comments (1)
In 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration gave $20,000 to the state of New Hampshire to eradicate marijuana plants, according to federal documents. But the Granite State’s law enforcement agencies didn’t have much luck finding any weed to pull that year – their efforts uncovered a single outdoor grow site with a grand total of 27 plants.
Do the math, and U.S. taxpayers paid $740.74 for each pot plant uprooted in New Hampshire that year.
That’s an expensive weeding operation, but it could be worse. Utah received $73,000 in marijuana eradication funds, according to the federal documents, obtained by journalist Drew Atkins as part of a FOIA request. But agents failed to find a single pot plant to eradicate.
The DEA’s $14 million marijuana eradication program has been the subject of a fair amount of criticism in recent years. Twelve members of Congress have pushed to eliminate the program and use the money instead to fund domestic-violence prevention and deficit-reduction programs.
Its purpose is to “halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States,” a mission that has become complicated as more states have legalized medical or recreational marijuana programs. Several more states have similar measures on the ballot this year.
DEA records show the program has been effective in some states, most notably California. Agents pulled 2.6 million marijuana plants in 2015, seizing more than 1,600 weapons in the process. Nearly $5.4 million was funneled into that state’s program.
Kentucky’s $1.9-million program had the next largest number of eradicated plants, more than 570,000.
Nationwide, the DEA documents show that spending on the program has shrunk from about $18 million in 2014 to $14 million in the current fiscal year. Some states – including Alaska, Colorado and Vermont – stopped receiving eradication funds completely.
California, where medical marijuana is legal, receives the lion’s share of marijuana eradication funds, in part because the “Emerald Triangle” region of Northern California. The area has long been home to many of the state’s legal and quasi-legal marijuana production operations, but law enforcement authorities have maintained that it also has been a haven for the grow operations of Mexican drug cartels.
Kentucky also receives a large amount of money to eradicate marijuana. The state has a surprisingly rich culture of marijuana cultivation.
Rounding out the top 5 marijuana eradication states are Tennessee, Georgia and, perhaps unexpectedly, Washington. The aptly nicknamed Evergreen State legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, and pot shops opened for business in 2014. So it may seem odd that the DEA is spending $760,000 this year to eradicate pot plants in the state.
But Washington is the only recreational marijuana state that doesn’t allow people to grow their own plants for recreational use. (In District of Columbia, incidentally, the situation is reversed: Homegrows are okay, but you can’t buy weed at the store.)
Washington also receives more marijuana eradication money than any other state with a recreational pot regime in place. Oregon received $200,000 this year, while Colorado and Alaska didn’t take any federal money for marijuana eradication.
New Hampshire, Louisiana, Delaware, Utah and New Jersey all spent well over $100 for every marijuana plant eradicated. Eleven states spent at least $50 per plant, while nearly half of the states – 23 of them – spent at least $25 in federal money for each marijuana plant they eliminated.
At the other end of the spectrum, states with big investments in marijuana eradication – like California and Kentucky – also had the most successful efforts to pull up large numbers of pot plants. So their per-plant costs are much lower.
To be perfectly clear, even in a fully legal, highly regulated market like Colorado’s there will be a need to enforce prohibitions on large-scale, unlicensed marijuana grows – similar to the way the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms busts illegal home alcohol distilleries. Beyond that, authorities often make a number of arrests at cultivation sites, or seize weapons and other property from people suspected of involvement with marijuana grow operations.
Still, some lawmakers are starting to question the need dedicated this level or resources to eliminating pot plants when so many states are relaxing their own restrictions.
“It makes zero sense for the federal government to continue to spend taxpayer dollars on cannabis eradication at a time when states across the country are looking to legalize marijuana,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., told me earlier this year. “I will continue to fight against DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program in Congress and work to redirect these funds to worthwhile programs.”
What a mess. For generations, Washington D.C. has attempted to grab our guns and state legislatures follow its lawless example. It occupies 640 million acres of America. But having our guns and our land taken by D.C. thugs isn’t about the Second Amendment. It is about Washington D.C. and its allies in multinational and foreign corporations, waging war against us.
The war is Washington D.C. vs. America…
Every time Congress or a federal court takes up any issue of us vs. them, they rule for themselves. Our side is split up into countless small groups, each fighting for our single issue. How can we ever win this war and restore rule of law?
The Founding Fathers made provision for that. In Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 of the Constitution, We The People authorize Congress to "provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections, and repel Invasions…". Then in Clause 16 we authorize Congress to, "provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the Militia…reserving to the States…the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia". That’s the Law in plain English. It’s clear, simple, and non-negotiable.
See? The Second Amendment is the wrong battle because 80 million Americans already own over 250 million firearms. The problem is, few of them are military-grade arms suitable for Citizen Militia. Also, few citizens are trained to execute the laws or protect their community in a crisis or attack, because no American belongs to a constitutional Citizen Militia. Not a single state has a constitutional Militia law. Pulling together a bunch of gung-ho guys in ‘unorganized Militia’ doesn’t pass constitutional muster.
The Second Amendment has nothing to do with it. We need to exercise our power and duty over the Constitution by "execut(ing) the Laws of the Union", not arguing with liberals and tyrants in the White House or in our statehouse about ‘gun rights’. Sovereigns don’t argue with their lawless servants about rights; we execute the laws!
Notice how this ties into land-grabs by the BLM, EPA, NFS and other illicit alphabet agencies. To execute the highest law, we need to make our State legislatures shut down the federal bureaucracies occupying our states’ sovereign public lands in violation of the Constitution. Our legislators don’t have the backbone to do it, so we need to force them to obey the Constitution, too. I will explain how, in Part 3.
But here’s the federal land-grab in a nutshell. In Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, We The People give Congress permission to "exercise exclusive Legislation…over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square)…and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards…".
THIS MAP depicts land that Washington D.C. lawfully acquired from the states by that section of the law. Compare that to THIS MAP depicting the over 640 million acres of state lands being occupied, claimed or controlled by Washington D.C. in direct violation of the Constitution!
This began when the West consisted of ‘territories’ that Washington D.C. grabbed from the Indians, Spaniards, French and Mexicans. Once a State entered the Union, its land became its own sovereign property and every State had to treat its co-sovereigns equally; this is a republic.
But you know how politicians are; Washington D.C. wanted to keep all that land, minerals, timber and water for itself. Congress and the federal courts have been citing Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 as Washington D.C.’s right to steal public lands belonging to the States: "Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State."
See that last sentence? It means that neither Washington D.C. nor any sovereign State can win a court battle over a State’s land. It is the duty of the State Legislature to put its foot down on federal occupation of our land in violation of the highest law. And it is the duty and power of the Citizen Militia to make the law stick!
America can win this war against lawless Washington D.C., but only by first enacting a constitutional Militia statute in each state.
Remember, in the Constitution, We The People created, defined, and limited our servant government in Washington D.C., including the U.S. supreme Court. In any contest between America and Washington D.C., We The People are the highest authority. If something is clear in our Constitution, We The People – not federal courts – are the final word on what the law says. This powerful principle is explained in the book, The People Themselves, by former Stanford Law School dean Larry Kramer.
This isn’t rocket science. Every State legislature needs to enact a constitutional Militia statute, set up training and appoint Militia officers; that’s the law. Then when the State legislature passes its law to expel every lawless federal bureaucrat, agent, and thug from the State, the Citizen Militia of that State can "execute the Laws of the Union".
We The People gave no authority or jurisdiction to Washington D.C. of one square inch of land in any sovereign State on earth, except in that passage about military bases and forts purchased from the States with approval of the State Legislature. Everything else that Washington D.C. thugs and bureaucrats are doing in ‘federal lands’ or a ‘federal possession’ is criminal activity.
Thousands of Americans have horror stories about tyranny by federal bureaucrats, agents, and operatives. This was out of control generations ago, and it’s our fault. We The People have work to do, to turn this long war back in America’s favor.
Stay tuned for Part 3 to see how we will do that. I had originally planned five articles, but I think I can finish this series in three parts.
By KOMO Staff Friday, January 15th 2016
TACOMA, Wash. — A South Sound man could potentially spend the next 40 years in prison after he was convicted Friday of illegally growing and selling marijuana.
Prosecutors say 37-year-old Lance Edward Gloor and his business partner opened four illegal marijuana dispensaries throughout Puget Sound. The men claimed the shops were non-profit medical dispensaries, but in reality Gloor was making millions of dollars and breaking state laws, according to prosecutors.
Prior to opening the shops, Gloor was arrested in 2010 when police searched his home and found more than 70 pot plants and a firearm.
In 2011, federal and state law enforcement teamed up to investigate Gloor and his dispensaries. He told police he was getting out of the marijuana business, but in reality he continued to operate two of the four businesses while attempting to hide his role in the operation, prosecutors say.
On Friday, a jury found Gloor guilty of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and manufacturing marijuana. The jury couldn’t reach a verdict on a money laundering charge, and they acquitted Gloor of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Gloor is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of five to 40 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice. He will officially be sentenced on April 15.
To mark the anniversary of recreational-marijuana stores opening in Washington, we look at The Seattle Times’ coverage of pot over the past 115 years.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Cannabis made one of its first appearances in The Seattle Daily Times in 1911, in a recipe to cure corns. An extract of cannabis, along with sodium and collodion, would form a paste. Readers were instructed to “paint over the corn once or twice a day and scrape away superficial growth in three or four days.”
Later stories journeyed from a portrayal of marijuana as an illegal, dangerous drug used by dirty hippies to a legal drug purchased at a regulated store.
The corn remedy is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of mentions of marijuana, also referred to as pot, weed, mary jane, cannabis, reefer, that have appeared in The Seattle Times pages since 1900.
To mark Wednesday’s one-year anniversary of recreational-marijuana stores opening in the state, we took a look at our cannabis coverage over the past 100-plus years.
A look back
Marijuana turned musicians in Chicago into “laugh addicts,” according to a 1928 account. A 1940 dispatch from New York recounted that “Harlem Negroes” had invented a new lexicon related to marijuana. Other stories recounted drugs coming in from Canada, China and the Middle East.
And oh, won’t someone think of the children?
Echoing films such as “Reefer Madness,” marijuana was often portrayed as a gateway drug to narcotics, debauchery and a life of crime. In 1953, The Seattle Times interviewed parents of teens arrested for stealing cars. The parents of one 13-year-old said their son “got in with a tough Queen Anne High School gang,” who would get marijuana, then steal cars “for the thrill of it.” A year later, a dealer was sentenced to 15 years in prison for selling dope to minors.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the drug became more associated with counterculture, with hippies wandering around in a “sea of mud, sickness and drugs,” as Woodstock was described in a 1969 story.
In 1981, The Seattle Times ran a 10-part series (yes, 10) called “Marijuana and Your Child.” There was a marijuana epidemic among America’s children, an Associated Press reporter wrote, that didn’t kill, but maimed.
“The media’s portrayal has, in some instances, contributed to accurate public knowledge and marijuana’s effects on behavior, how popular it was, who was using it,” said Roger Roffman, a University of Washington professor emeritus and author of “Marijuana Nation: One Man’s Chronicle of America Getting High.” “In other instances, the media pretty grossly contributed to stereotypical views of marijuana users and marijuana policy.”
Feb. 26, 2015: From artisan glass blowing to grow operations and retail, Kush Tourism takes curious guests through various facets of the marijuana industry. (Steve Ringman and Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)
Only recently have the mainstream media covered marijuana as something that might have value, Barcott said. One of the first Seattle Times stories about medical marijuana was published in 1975, when a drug expert testified at a Drug Enforcement Administration hearing.
And last year, The Seattle Times wrote about Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes buying two packages of marijuana, one for posterity and one, he said, for “personal enjoyment.” The reporters even noted what strain he bought: “OG’s Pearl.”
“It will be very interesting to see how that coverage changes,” Barcott said. “Not just year to year, but week to week, month to month. It’s such a fast-moving story.”
February 27, 2015
I hate to be the party pooper but I feel there is a need to point out that the possession, transportation, processing and use of marijuana is still illegal. It is not legal in Alaska, nor Colorado, nor Washington, nor Oregon. It’s not legal in your house, nor in a car, or on a train, or in a plane. No Charlo Green I am; it’s not legal to grow pot in this here land.
There is this thing called the Controlled Substances Act. You can find it in Title 21, Section 800 or so of the U.S. Code. Section 812 lists marihuana (with an h) as a schedule I substance. The rest of the sections talk about how the federal government can punish (or, cough, deter) you from doing things with marihuana and other substances. By the way, the Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress. Remember that high-school U.S. government class you kept falling asleep in? Quick refresher: The U.S. Constitution says if Congress passes a law, it trumps any state law.
What about my right to use marijuana? Didn’t Alaska legalize it? Can’t I have 4 ounces in my home after that Ptarmigan or Raven decision? No. Uncle Sam said no, and he couldn’t care less what Colorado’s constitution reads or what the Supreme Court of Alaska said. Ravin was a decision regarding the right to "privacy" provided by the Alaska Constitution. The recent ballot initiative was a voter initiative that changed Alaska state law. Neither gave anyone a legal right to marijuana. A state cannot grant a legal right to do something that the federal government has declared illegal. Just ask Angel Raich and Dian Monson of California; they thought they had a medical right under California law. The SCOTUS said no: Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 7 (2005).
What about Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska, and the Colorado amendment, and Washington’s and Oregon’s laws? All that these states have done is decide that they will no longer enforce criminal penalties for various acts involving marijuana. So once again, marijuana is not legal in Alaska; it’s just not criminal under Alaska law, and won’t be punished by law enforcement or courts of Alaska (within the limits set by Ballot Measure 2).
OK, semantics, right? Except these are important semantics that the general public doesn’t quite understand. Semantics that legislators should be wary of when they enact legislation, lest they have their laws pre-empted. Semantics that public administrators should ensure to get correct to properly inform the public. Semantics that, if used properly in and by the media, could help further a national debate that we should be having about drug policies in the United States.
No matter how many times Sam I Am, or Charlene Egbe, or Charlo Greene tell you it’s legal now in Alaska, it isn’t. It’s not legal recreationally and it’s not legal medically. A doctor technically can’t prescribe pot (although they can “recommend” it under their First Amendment right to free speech — again, important semantics for policymakers and interested parties). In a way, I guess that’s a good thing for people like Ms. Egbe; they can go on treating “their patients” and not fear being prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of medicine (and yes, I ran her name through the Professional License search on the Alaska Department of Commerce’s website. She is not a doctor, or a pharmacist, or a nurse, or a lawyer (different search website)). But they still need to watch out for Uncle Sam. It’s not legal to sell it, and you face stiff penalties for doing so under federal laws. Oh, you think it’s just pot, no big deal, the feds won’t bust me for it and if they do, how bad could it be? Ask Weldon Angelos when he gets out of the Mendota Federal Correctional Institute in 2051 how serious $350 worth of pot can get.
OK, so before you get your pitchforks and torches and string me up in tar and feathers for blasphemy against the almighty Matanuska Thunder #@!*, I need to clarify the point of my rant. I truly believe our nation, not just our state, needs to rethink our policies on drugs, crime and punishment. As a society, we have a knee-jerk reaction to throw people in jail thinking it will solve everything, which it hasn’t. Reform with our current Congress isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, so reform at the state level is the next best thing — a thing that can help begin national change.
But what I would hate to see is more good people imprisoned under the current severe federal drug penalties because of mistaken beliefs of their “right” to use marijuana. I would also hate to see the national debate be ignored by complacent individuals with the misguided perception that “it’s legal in my state so who cares what the feds think.” So please, when people tell you how it’s legal to smoke pot in Alaska, or Colorado, or anywhere else, remind them of what they missed when they slept through that high school government class, and tell them more change is still needed.
Kevin Coe lives in Anchorage.
The views expressed here are the writer’s own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Rick Steves is the affable host of public television’s best travel series, “Rick Steves’ Europe.” He’s also the author of “Europe Through the Back Door,” a best-selling series of travel guide books. His approachable demeanor makes him one of your grandparent’s favorite television hosts; his boyish good looks and friendliness remove any trepidation imposed by his six-foot frame.
What your grandparents might not know about Rick Steves is that he is an unapologetic proponent of the legalization of responsible adult use of marijuana. He sits on the board of directors for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and contributed large amounts of his travel business profits into passing the legalization laws in Washington State and Oregon. It’s his frequent travels to Europe, where many countries like The Netherlands and Portugal have gone beyond what America has tolerated so far in marijuana reform, which leads him to see the two countries America has become with respect to marijuana legalization.
In a three-part interview with SFGate columnist David Downs, Steves explains how the attitudes toward marijuana reform differ so greatly in America based on geography. “We have two different countries right now,” Steves tells Downs. “I’ve traveled all over the country. Look at the East Coast. They just can’t hardly believe how far along we are and in their world it feels like they’re still behind. They’re on the dark side of the moon.”
One indication of how different the two coasts are is the plethora of business seminars now servicing the fledgling legal marijuana industry in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, as well as the continuing evolution of the quasi-legal medical marijuana industry in California. Steves is one of many speakers presenting at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco next month, an event that is drawing scientists (Dr. Carl Hart, Dr. Amanda Reiman), politicians (California Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher), activists (Oregon legalizer Anthony Johnson, California Prop 19’s Dale Sky Jones) and business leaders (Harborside’s Steve DeAngelo, ArcView Group’s Troy Dayton), and others seeking to shape and grow the cannabis industry.
Steves, however, isn’t as sanguine about marijuana reform as an issue of business profits. He’d rather people took marijuana legalization to heart as a civil rights issue. “I wish we could all just grow two plants on our windowsill and share them with each other, but that’s not going to work that way,” Steves says with regret. “I’m out of the fray there. I’m sure there was lots of cannabis people that wish I was all for the investors and stuff. I’m just agnostic on it. I just want to stop locking people up for smoking pot.”
But Steves recognizes that the cannabis club ideas, like the grow-and-share system that works in Spain, aren’t going to suffice in capitalist America. “You can’t fight that. Big business, free enterprise, greed — it’s the American way,” Steves notes. “So you can’t legalize marijuana and not have it legal.”
How marijuana becomes legal, though, will likely be very different on the east Coast compared to the West Coast. “There’s a huge difference between the more progressive and more regressive parts of the country. That’s just the way it is,” Steves observes. “I think that’s going to change very quickly and I think after 2016, once California legalizes, and a couple other states will go along with it — it’ll be easier because it’s a presidential year — I think it will be pretty hard to deny the fact that prohibition of marijuana is on its way out.”
Steves, however, also recognizes that some true believers’ ideas about ultimate cannabis freedom without restrictions are unlikely to win at the ballot box. According to Steves, “You need a public safety law that respects the concerns of most people that don’t smoke pot. That’s just a pragmatic thing. I’m not saying that’s right — that’s just reality. I mean, my record is 2- 0. We legalized in Washington and we legalized in Oregon and we needed every bit of common sense pragmatism and respect for people that oppose us that we could.”
Follow Russ Belville on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RadicalRuss
More: CONTINUE READING…
- December 30 2014
In a few short paragraphs within the 1,603-page congressional spending bill signed into law on December 16, 2014, Congress prohibited the U.S. Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute users, growers and distributors of medical marijuana in states that have enacted medical marijuana statutes. The full text of the de-funding rider barring the DOJ from the use of funds to “prevent. . . implementation” of state and local laws legalizing medical marijuana states:
Sec. 538. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
Sec. 539. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (“Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research”) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Several U.S. Supreme Court decisions have upheld prosecution of medical marijuana growers and users under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Nevertheless, the Obama Administration, as a matter of policy, has directed the DOJ to take a relaxed approach to prosecution and the DOJ has done so, except for use that impacts the DOJ’s “enforcement priorities” (e.g., preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels). This new de-funding measure now codifies that policy approach as law. (Notably, the rider does not affect IRS or Treasury Department actions relating to payment of taxes by marijuana suppliers and online banking).
The legislation, however, does not legalize medical marijuana. Rather, the federal ban on marijuana continues – i.e., both medical and recreational marijuana continue to be illegal under CSA Schedule I. And, though de-funding may affect enforcement of criminal laws in states with medical marijuana statutes, it has no effect in states that have not legalized marijuana, nor does it express any limitations on employer action on the basis of a positive marijuana test result administered under a workplace drug testing policy. Finally, the rider expires on September 30, 2015, and may or may not be renewed heading into the heart of the presidential election campaign in the fall of 2015. For all of these reasons, though significant in reflecting current legislators’ thinking at the national level regarding CSA enforcement, the mere enactment of the spending bill with this provision does not warrant adjustment to drug testing policies of employers choosing to continue to treat confirmed positive marijuana test results as positive even when the result was caused by medicinal use that is lawful under state or local law.
The proposed congressional budget released Tuesday night prevents the Department of Justice from using funds to undermine state laws regarding medical marijuana.
posted on Dec. 9, 2014, at 9:20 p.m.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke BuzzFeed News Reporter
The House budget passed Tuesday night prevents the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to interfere with state laws that legalize medical marijuana.
The amendment was introduced by California Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, and Sam Farr, a Democrat, and was approved by the House of Representatives in May. It implies that DEA raids on medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal will stop.
The budget Senate proposal — which must still go back to the House for a full vote before it lands on President Obama’s desk — would keep all but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) operating normally through the end of the fiscal year in 2015.
The compromise bill was approved with Republicans agreeing to put off a fight with Obama over his immigration policies until February, when funding for the DHS is slated to run out, the Associated Press reported.
The bill’s Section 538, which addresses medical marijuana, reads:
None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
The bill also includes a section that protects industrial hemp cultivation.
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (”Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research”) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
Marijuana advocates were pleased with the bill.
Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, said in statement to BuzzFeed News: “Congressional leaders seem to have finally gotten the message that a supermajority of Americans wants states to be able to implement sensible marijuana reforms without federal interference.”
Angell also urged the Obama administration to use this opportunity to “reschedule marijuana immediately.” Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it’s a dangerous narcotic with no accepted medical use. Heroin and LSD are also classified Schedule I, while cocaine and methamphetamine are Schedule II, a lower ranking.
Advocates say reclassifying the drug would allow for state and federal laws to be in sync, and conserve law enforcement resources. It would also ease access to research of the drug and tension between banks and marijuana retailers.
Erik Altieri, communication director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, also released a statement that said: “By restricting these agencies in this manner, the nearly two dozen states that implemented medical marijuana programs can hopefully breathe easier knowing federal money won’t be spent to interfere with their progress. We hope this leads to further reforms at the federal level further enshrining this sentiment into law.”
The bill also effectively blocks the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Washington, D.C., but preserves its decriminalization law.
Voters in Washington, D.C., overwhelmingly passed a recreational marijuana referendum on the November ballot, which is now effectively blocked. The District passed a decriminalization bill in April that will remain intact.
The proposed bill’s appropriations section, which allocates millions in funds to the district, states:
“None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.”
Unlike most states, Washington, D.C., doesn’t take in any local revenue that it can spend and receives all of its funding from the federal government, so the ban on using funds for legalization effectively blocks the referendum voters recently passed.
Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said of the rider: “I’m opposed to what the House is trying to do.”
“If they put it in there, it’s going to be hard to take it out over here,” he added.
Marijuana advocates in Washington D.C. and those who advocate for the district’s autonomy were not pleased. D.C. Cannabis Campaign, which sponsored the ballot measure to legalize weed, tweeted the following:
By Jessica Chasmar – The Washington Times – Sunday, November 30, 2014
Scientists at Washington State University are working to develop a breath test, similar to a breathalyzer, that would help law enforcement officers more quickly determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana.
Currently, officers must use blood tests to determine if THC is present in a driver’s blood, and the results are never immediate. WSU chemistry professor Herbert Hill said existing technologies like those used by TSA agents to detect drugs and explosives in real time on airline passengers can also be altered to test breath for THC, the News Tribune reported.
Mr. Hill said he and WSU doctoral student Jessica Tufariello are working on a handheld device that uses a technique called ion mobility spectrometry. They plan to develop a prototype this year, then start testing human breath between January and June of 2015, Mr. Hill told the News Tribune.
The Washington State Patrol said it welcomes anything that gets impaired drivers off the road.
Washington voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, and users driving while high has become an increasing concern. The number of suspected impaired drivers in Washington who tested positive for active THC rose from 18.6 percent to 25 percent for the first year legalization was in effect, the News Tribune reported.