Federal Marijuana Eradication Efforts and Their Influence
on Marijuana Cultivation.
A cost/benefit analysis of law enforcement resources
applied to enforcing laws related to marijuana's schedule
I status must include a review of the DEA Domestic Cannabis
Eradication/Suppression Program. DEA and other government
reports suggest that domestic marijuana cultivation can neither
be eradicated nor suppressed.
The DEA has misrepresented the significance of the number
of cannabis plants they have eradicated, the potency and profit
potential for the average marijuana plant, the effect of their
program on the price of marijuana, and the extent of their
success in affecting the availability of marijuana.(32)
The DEA has claimed that their program has substantially
increased the price of marijuana over the years, when actually
most of the increases are attributable to inflation.
Throughout this time period the DEA's actions have encouraged
more decentralized cultivation, with fewer plants grown on
increasingly more plots. The DEA's actions have also led to
a tremendous growth in the number of people who grow marijuana
indoors, under lights.
The DEA has not been content to let state police and
courts handle marijuana cultivation problems, and has given
federalizing marijuana cultivation prosecutions and investigations
a great amount of consideration.
The DEA claims about the seriousness of the marijuana
problem have been used to involve the National Guard and the
military in eradication efforts. The National Guard is quite
straight-forward about how the law allows them to get around
historical traditions and laws which keep the military out
of domestic law enforcement.
Throughout this period the DEA constructed their own
annual estimates of marijuana production in the United States
based on assumptions of plant quality, yield per plant, and
seizure success estimates.
Marijuana remains the nation's number one cash crop.
Throughout the last eleven years the DEA has not been able
to reduce the value, and therefore the market incentive to
grow, marijuana. In fact, the DEA has often stated that rising
prices for marijuana is a sign their program is working.
The DEA's war against domestic marijuana cultivation
is a failure. Domestic cultivators have increased, proliferated
and prospered since the program's inception.
In 1982, the DEA made this startling discovery: The strategic
intelligence estimate for 1981 domestic marihuana production
was 1200 metric tons. Therefore, the program shows that:
"in 1982, 38% more domestic marihuana was eradicated
than was previously believed to exist. Although a total U.S.
marihuana production figure is not easily determined, the
statistics obtained from this program reveal, without doubt,
that the United States is becoming a major source for the
By their own standards, the program is a dismal failure.
In 1982 the goal of the eradication program strategy
"to deter both commercial sinsemilla or high grade marihuana
cultivation and to suppress the proliferation of that cultivation
in areas which have not yet developed a large or sophisticated
growing or marketing capability."(34)
DEA documents show that marijuana cultivation, in fact,
proliferated widely throughout the United States, often in
response to the DEA's program itself. For example, compare
the statement above with this statement from 1992:
"Domestically grown marijuana accounted for 10% of all
marijuana in 1980 this has increased to 25% in 1992, with
a production estimate of 4500 - 5300 metric tons."(35)
By the DEA's own estimates, domestic marijuana production
has increased four-fold between 1982 and 1992.
And this from 1990:
"A large measure of the U.S. marijuana market will be
captured by domestic growers, individual entrepreneurs and
well-organized, multi-state cooperatives. Sinsemilla . . .
will dominate the domestic market. Indoor and public land
cultivation are the most common methods of cannabis production.
Domestic cultivation may account for as much as 50% of the
U.S. market by 1995."(36)