courtesy NORML News, http://www.norml.org
Approximately 99% of all marijuana eradicated by the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program in 2003 was feral hemp -- not cultivated marijuana, according to figures recently published online by the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.
According to the DEA data, of the estimated 247 million marijuana plants destroyed by law enforcement in 2003, more than 243 million were classified as "ditch weed," a term the agency uses to define "wild, scattered marijuana plants [with] no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending." Unlike cultivated marijuana, feral hemp contains virtually no detectable levels of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, and does not contribute to the black market marijuana trade.
NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre criticized the program for spending millions of taxpayers' dollars eradicating hemp. "Hemp is grown legally throughout most the Western world as a commercial crop for its fiber content, yet the US government is spending taxpayers' money to target and eradicate this same agricultural commodity," he said, noting that many of today's current hemp plots are remnants of US-government subsidized crops that existed prior to World War II. "Virtually all wild hemp goes unharvested and presents no legitimate threat to public safety. As such, it should be of no concern to the federal government or law enforcement."
According to DEA figures, Indiana led all 50 states in the volume of ditchweed eradicated, destroying more than 219 million plants. Oklahoma law enforcement eradicated some 10 million plants, and Missouri destroyed an estimated 4.5 million. More than half of all states failed to report their ditch weed totals. California led all 50 states in the number of cultivated plants eradicated in 2003, with the DEA citing nearly 1.2 million plants destroyed.
Begun in 1979, the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program allocates federal funds to law enforcement agencies in all 50 states for the purpose of uprooting marijuana. For 2003, DEA data indicates that 8,480 arrests were derived from law enforcement raiding over 34,000 outdoor plots, and over 2,600 indoor gardens.
A past NORML report and analysis on domestic marijuana cultivation can be found at http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4444 online.