Drug Policy

The DEA Busted Fewer Marijuana Grow Operations In 2011 Than Previous Years


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.

The article notes:

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.


NEXT: Social-Media Censorship Call from Nigerian Pol

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Jazz? Is that a cut and paste error?

    1. Nope.

        1. Dang Lucy, you shoulda called I got five on it…cellphone cam, or something.

          1. The category: 90’s Gangsta Rap Songs About Weed

            and GO!

            Let’s start this shit off right with some hits from the bong.

            1. Not from the 90’s but Ludacris’ Blueberry Yum Yum is an excellent weed song.

              I like it anyways.

              1. Both links are SF’ed up.

            2. It’s not about weed but…

              Yo Momma’s On Crack Rock.


              1. What da fuk, dood. I hovered over the links in the preview, and it showed the address at the bottom of the screen.

                I’ll post the ludacris one again because it’s better and most people might have not have heard it.

                I tried to post links but then I got…huh?

                Just previewed. Ran cursor over link and it worked. Let me know.

                1. …and yes Yo Mamma’s on Crack Rock is a classic.

      1. Fluffy thought you meant to write “Chazz”, as in Chazz Palminteri. Understandable mistake.

        1. Dude, he was excellent as an arrogant douchebag cop in The Usual Suspects. One of the best movies evah.

          1. It’s a good movie; it has its moments. I don’t shit my pants over it though. Bryan Singer’s direction is in his characteristically flat style, which bores me visually. That movie would really have popped with a director who has some real style.

            1. Well well, Mr. Ebert I am soooo sorry!

              I shit my pants every time I watch it, and this being AMERICA I am free to do so. Maybe you’d like to move to RUSSIA where the commies will throw you in the gulag for shitting your pants when watching The Usual Suspects.

              Love it or leave it, buddy. Love it or leave it.

  2. The DEA Busted Fewer Marijuana Grow Operations In 2011 Than Previous Years

    Well, sure, they can’t bust all those state-legal dispensaries and bust as many grow ops as they did. Unless their budgets are increased, of course.

  3. Sadly enough, neither candidate appears ready to face reality in terms of the drug war, and I’m afraid that unless a major voter initiative makes it politically profitable for either party to do so, the Drug War will continue unabated.

    Balko has Sean Dunagan, from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, posting at the agitator in the next few weeks. Here’s his first post.


    Maybe guys like this will finally get through to either party but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. Love him or hate him; the Bird sure shot up a lot of heroin.

  5. Once again, California public opinion displays less excitement over the prospect of marijuana legalization than you might expect.

    Shrugs not drugs.

  6. california sucks… again

    anybody know what the polling/predictions are regarding the %age who will vote for marijuana legalization here in WA?

  7. officer at SPD accused of excessive force.

    note YET AGAIN, despite the reason claim about the pervasive blue wall of silence (reasonoids still stuck in serpico era mentality) The department launched the internal investigation after other officers who were present during the incident alerted their supervisor.

    “The officers at the scene wasted no time in letting their supervisor know,” said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, adding news of the incident had reached the acting chief within 90 minutes. Both Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn were out of town.

    The involved officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

    Whitcomb said the department’s leaders are pleased the other officers followed procedure and reported the incident immediately.

    “What they saw from a fellow colleague was behavior that appeared excessive and unnecessary, and unprofessional, and they didn’t tolerate it,” he said. ”

    note also:” Sgt. Sean Whitcomb says it’s clear what happened: “Excessive force and unprofessionalism,” he said. ”

    and again this happens over and over again – good cops turning in cops who do bad stuff.

    fwiw, imo based on the video (and note the officers do not interfere with videotaping), this is CLEARLY excessive force.

    not even a remotely close call

    1. Good that they turned him in. However, they should have arrested him on the spot.

      Progress, but not enough.

  8. good on those spd officers for turning this violator in and i suggest he will be given due process and punishment.


    the video is compelling


    (words from dunphy)

  9. I think the DEA is about as useless as the TSA!


  10. How is it that anon-bot is smarter than most people?

  11. this could either be proof that we’re winning (nope) or that the drug wars (yep.)

    That the drug wars what?

  12. They raid the dispensaries because the growers in the state parks are likely to shoot them. Not too hard to figure out.


  13. Smaller number of growers busted, larger amount of pot destroyed overall. Hmmmm, sounds like some growers are getting larger and lots of smaller ones going out of business.

  14. The DEA is useless, about as useless as the TSA.


  15. (Raises hand from the back) In my neck of the woods, it could also be the result of lack of cooperation locally. The sheriff’s office refuses to provide support; they consider it a waste of time and money, and (in a rare switch) are more concerned with keeping the peace than enforcing a law against a plant.
    The DEA tried to rope Forestry into the game, and got told to fuck off. Keeping aircraft up is expensive, Forestry’s local job is primarily firefighting, and their budget from the USDA keeps getting smaller. So long as growers aren’t torching things, they could care less. The DEA wanted them to act as spotters… ‘Cos, y’know, the people flying around during forest fires don’t have anything better to do, right?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.