According to AP the amount of marijuana seized by government officials in 2011 has declined when it comes to marijuana grow ops, but increased in amount of bulk processed weed seized.
One thing is known: California, which provides the lion's share of the millions of plants eradicated every year in the United States, saw a 46.5 percent drop in plants eradicated between 2010 and 2011, bringing down the nation's overall numbers.
"You can't attribute it to one factor," said Casey Rettig, spokeswoman for Drug Enforcement Administration in San Francisco.
In 2010, authorities seized 10.32 million marijuana plants from outdoor and indoor growing operations, according to DEA data. By 2011, that number had dropped to 6.7 million plants — a 35 percent decrease.
In that same time span, 37 states saw their eradication results drop. Data for 2012 is not yet available.
One of the most dramatic shifts came from Idaho, which saw its eradication results shrink by more than 98 percent between 2009 and 2011 — from 77,748 plants to just 786. Although, the Caribou County sheriff's office reported raiding a farm in southeast Idaho with 40,000 plants this week.
But while the number of plants eradicated has dropped, the number of pounds of bulked processed marijuana confiscated has increased from 53,843 pounds in 2009 to 113,167 pounds in 2011, the data collected by the DEA shows.
California killed 7.3 million weed plants in 2010, but 35 percent fewer in 2011. One reason for the drop may be the budget cuts to California's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), which the state arm of the Department of Justice handles. Good old Governor Jerry Brown decided back in June that CAMP was mostly getting the axe. After 28 years of chopping down plants, including 4.3 million in 2011 alone, the program may be kaput.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has vowed to keep financing its part of the program, but since CAMP is operated by the state, the state's money appears crucial for it to continue. CAMP's 2010 operations cost taxpayers more than $3 million. The state contributed $1 million, and the D.E.A. contributed $1.6 million. The state budget for 2012 cuts $71 million from the Division of Law Enforcement, including the narcotics bureau.
The program lately has been serving as a protection of public parkland against large-scale grow ops, but obviously nobody would be growing huge plots in the middle of public parks if they could grow their own fields without fear. Libertarian VP candidate Judge Jim Gray gives a sensible shout-out to this notion:
The state's advocates for legalizing marijuana say that the problem confronted by CAMP would not exist if marijuana were taxed and regulated like alcohol.
"Today, I assure you that Mexican drug cartels are not planting illegal vineyards in state parks to compete with Robert Mondavi," said Jim Gray, a retired Orange County Superior Court judge who is supporting the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine initiative that he hopes will be on the 2012 ballot.
There have also been budget cuts for the National Guard Helicopter often used to find marijuana fields. The Obama administration has also made tediously coy allusions to changing their tactics on the don't-call-it-a-drug-war if and when Obama gets a second term, but considering his first term history of drug warrioring, that seems like a tenuous promise indeed. Basically, number don't mean much in the drug war and whichever side you're on, this could either be proof that we're winning (nope) or that the drug wars (yep.)
But some Californians want to keep CAMP, at least a certain type does:
William Ruzzamenti, the director of the Central Valley High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, said growers could return to the parks in full force.
"We've really pounded these folks who are growing on public lands, and CAMP has been our chief hammer in doing that," said Mr. Ruzzamenti, a former D.E.A. agent. "If they do go away, I can see these folks flooding back into the parks."
The concern is especially acute because the parks are facing the same budget crisis; the state is set to close 70 parks and reduce staffing in many others.
It's not just former DEA agents, though. Once again, California public opinion displays less excitement over the prospect of marijuana legalization than you might expect. In March, only 46 percent of respondents to a Los Angeles Times poll said they were for it, which is four points under the national result that Gallup got in 2011.