Futile Pursuits

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Hemp: DEA Has Spent $175 Million Eradicating "Ditch Weed" Plants That Don't Get You High

In the past two decades, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has spent at least $175 million in direct spending and grants to the states to eradicate feral hemp plants, popularly known as "ditch weed." The plants, the hardy descendants of hemp plants grown by farmers at the federal government's request during World War II, do not contain enough THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, to get people high.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ditchweedchart1.jpg
chart by Jon Gettman for Vote Hemp
According to figures from the DEA's Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, it has seized or destroyed 4.7 billion feral hemp plants since 1984. That's in contrast to the 4.2 million marijuana plants it has seized or destroyed during the same period. In other words, 98.1% of all plants eradicated under the program were ditch weed, of which it is popularly remarked that "you could smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole and all you would get is a headache and a sore throat."

While the DEA is spending millions of tax payer dollars, including $11 million in 2005, to wipe out hemp plants, farmers in Canada and European countries are making millions growing hemp for use in a wide variety of food, clothing, and other products. Manufacturers of hemp products in the United States must import their hemp from countries with more enlightened policies.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ditchweedchart2.jpg
chart by Jon Gettman for Vote Hemp
"It's Orwellian that the biggest target of the DEA's Eradication Program is actually not a drug but instead a useful plant for everything from food, clothing and even auto parts and currently must be imported to supply a $270 million industry," said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a group lobbying for increased acceptance of the versatile plant. "While Vote Hemp has urged the DEA to recognize the difference between hemp and marijuana so farmers could grow it here, the federal agency is spending millions of dollars to destroy hundreds of millions of harmless hemp plants."

DEA officials regularly argue that there is no difference between hemp and marijuana, but their own statistics belie that claim. In its reports on the domestic eradication program, the agency clearly differentiates between ditch weed and "cultivated marijuana."

Not only is the ditch weed eradication program a waste of money, it may even be counterproductive, said Vote Hemp national outreach coordinator Tom Murphy. "Much of the ditch weed eradicated is believed to be burned, turning a carbon consuming plant into a contributor of Greenhouse gasses," said Murphy in a post-Christmas press release. "For all the effort to find and destroy these harmless wild hemp plants they are coming back year after year. It is likely that the eradication programs help re-seed the locations were ditch weed is found. The late summer timing and removal method causes countless ripe seeds to fall to the ground where they will sprout again the following year."

Your tax dollars at work.

Mexican troops take drug fight to Tijuana streets

Location: 
Tijuana
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
CNN
URL: 
http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/01/04/tijuana.drugs.ap/

Ex-Cop Plans Video on How to Hide Drugs

Location: 
Tyler, TX
United States
Publication/Source: 
Fox News
URL: 
http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2006Dec22/0,4670,ExCopapossDrugTips,00.html

Mexicans weed out new super marijuana

Location: 
Lazaro Cardenas
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Chicago Sun-Times
URL: 
http://www.suntimes.com/news/world/179186,CST-NWS-mex20.article

Informant denies buying drugs at elderly Atlantan's home (CNN)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/11/28/atlanta.shooting/

China to reward individuals for reporting drugs-related crimes (People's Daily Online, China)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://english.people.com.cn/200611/15/eng20061115_321849.html

Mexico's drug war death toll tops 2,000 (San Francisco Chronicle)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/11/14/MNGL3MC3I91.DTL

Italy signals major overhaul of drugs laws (EuroNews, France)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://euronews.net/create_html.php?page=detail_info&article=390711&lng=1

It's time to legalize marijuana in Illinois (Chicago Sun-Times)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.suntimes.com/news/anderson/132863,CST-EDT-monroe12.article

Police: Deli served marijuana on the side (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/15974835.htm

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