Texas Fights Ditchweed Menace Again 12/21/01

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The Texas Domestic Marijuana Eradication (DME) program has had another banner year of pulling up non-psychoactive weeds at taxpayer expense. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported on Tuesday that it eradicated 760,000 cannabis plants this year in an effort funded by Texas taxpayers and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

But with only 48,700 of those plants being under cultivation, 93.5% of the plants destroyed were ditchweed or feral hemp, descendants of plants planted in a government program during World War II. The effort involved a number of state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as operational, technical and financial support from the DEA. The program has operated in Texas since 1987, and last year seized 415,000 plants.

"Domestic marijuana eradication by the DPS, the Air National Guard, local law enforcement agencies and the DEA has helped make Texas a safer place," said DPS Director Thomas A. Davis Jr. with a straight face. "This is a program that shows definite, immediate results," he told a Tuesday press conference. "Many burglaries and other crimes are related to drugs and drug use."

The DEA allocated $13 million for its domestic marijuana eradication program this fiscal year. The Texas Dept. of Public Safety, or Texas DPS, did not respond to DRCNet requests for information on the amount of state taxpayer dollars used in the annual exercise.

Most drug reformers criticize the ditchweed eradication programs as a pure waste of taxpayer funds to kill hemp plants that do not get people high. Some, such as California cannabis expert Chris Conrad (http://www.chrisconrad.com) have also pointed out that the eradication program is destroying the genetic heritage of the world's largest feral hemp crop.

[Week Online editor Phil Smith, himself a former Texan and long-time observer of Texas drug enforcement activities, indulged himself with a bit of sarcasm reflecting on the program: "We must applaud these authorities for their efforts to eradicate this menace. We must insist that ditchweed eradication be the highest priority for drug warriors across the country. Ditchweed was the gateway drug for me. Once I tried it, I wanted the real thing. Furthermore, I am sure there is a terrorism-ditchweed connection if we only dig deep enough. And why aren't they arresting all those farmers who allow this pernicious plant to flourish?"]

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Issue #216, 12/21/01 Editorial: Taking Freedom in Vain | Washington State Lawyers, Doctors, Pharmacists Issue Call to End Drug War | Education Department Will Not Ease Student Aid Ban, Author Strongly Critical of Decision | Supreme Court to Hear Sentencing Case, Mandatory Minimums Could Be At Risk | Patients, Advocates Sue Feds for Right to Democratically Change District of Columbia Marijuana Laws | Bush Uses Terror War to Push Drug War | Italian Member of European Parliament Arrested in British Cannabis Cafe Case | Ohio "Treatment Not Jail" Initiative Organizers Accuse Governor, Other State Officials of Improper Lobbying | Texas Fights Ditchweed Menace Again | Oregon Activist Couple Plot POTaid Benefit Concert for Drug Reform | DRCNet Plans for 2002/Year-End Donations Needed | Media Scan: Mother Jones, Witness for Peace | Errata and Addendum | Alerts: Bolivia, HEA Drug Provision, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar
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