[Editor's note: This post is excerpted from this week's forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML's news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]
Total seizures of cultivated cannabis plants fell an estimated 35 percent between the years 2010 and 2011, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and published in the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.
Data for the year 2011 indicates that some 6.7 million cannabis plants were eradicated nationwide under the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, which is active in all 50 states. This figure represents the lowest total of cultivated plants eradicated since 2006, and is a 35 percent decrease from 2010, when the DEA reported eradicating some 10.3 million marijuana plants.
The year-to-year drop was largely a result of a decline in the total number of plants eradicated in California. In 2010, the DEA reported eradicating some 7.4 million plants in California. That number fell to just under 4 million plants in 2011.
Overall, approximately 60 percent of all of the marijuana plants eradicated in the United States in 2011 were from California plots.
The DEA further reported having seized over $11 million in assets associated with its eradication efforts in California. Nationwide, the agency reported seizing over $42 million in assets associated with its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.
According to a July 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund under President Barack Obama is the largest on record, having grown from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011. According to the GAO, the fund paid out approximately $79 million to California law enforcement agencies, the most in the nation, for their participation in federal raids and seizures.
In recent months, the Justice Department has targeted numerous properties in California for civil asset forfeiture – including Harborside Health Center, the largest and most prominent medical marijuana dispensary in the state.
Year-to-year cannabis eradication data is available from the Sourcebook here.