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

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #467)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

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.

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.

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.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

I first saw this when I was 13-14 and the DEA came to my Dad's pasture to eradicate a half-acre hemp patch. I don't know if he called them or what. There were 3 or 4 uniformed agents who spent half a day there. These guys were not getting minimum wage by any means. I remember even then wondering what that would cost and why they would bother. The patch was maybe 1/3 smaller the next year and it is still there today.

Sat, 01/06/2007 - 11:40pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Marijunua is the best then out thee for us people to smoke , But people make it to big of a deal when it comes to Mariojunua if people can use it for medacel use's only well life is pertty stressing and people out in the world are depressed and manicdepressence so what about those people ?.. so get onit we need it lehalized Now...........

Sun, 01/07/2007 - 3:26pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

"Marijunua is the best then out thee for us people to smoke , But people make it to big of a deal when it comes to Mariojunua if people can use it for medacel use's only well life is pertty stressing and people out in the world are depressed and manicdepressence so what about those people ?.. so get onit we need it lehalized Now..........."

I love pot, but I think you are sniffing gas or something.

Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:28am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Thats one of the things I used to do (gas) and it's pretty stupid, but he must have been drunk or homeless or maybe smoked salvia or something....

Sun, 06/10/2007 - 10:30pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Heard about pot growing free in Kansas when I was a hippie kid. Drove all the way up from Texas and actually found a big patch near some railroad tracks. In less than two hours we cut enough to stuff the trunk of my Chevy Impala. When we got back to Texas and dried it out, we couldn't get $10 a pound for it. Like most everything else the DEA says about pot, the ditch weed is worthless as a psychoactive agent. Now I smoke KB that I can't get a joint of for $10.

Mon, 01/08/2007 - 11:04am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Not from the mid west but always heard (about feral hemp) "you have to smoke a shoebox full just to get a headache".
Not True-while performing some contract work at the above referenced military installation some of that feral hemp got mysteriously stuck in the fender of a competitors vehicle who happened to be staying at the same hotel as our crew.
Not wanting to see them get in any trouble we removed it-good eye!- and proceeded to "destroy" it in the hotel room microwave ovens.This wasn't leaf but mature seeded buds.Somehow the leaf and most stems "fell off" the plant before it got stuck to their vehicle.After careful microwaving failed to destroy the noxious weed we resorted to burning it in rolled torn pages from the gideon bibles in the nightstand.As it didn't burn too well we pulled air through the rolled tubes in an effort to provide adequate oxygen to the combustion process.Thankfully,this destroyed the illegal substance although the process did take several hours.
Long story short,I've paid for worse.We got high as a motherfucker.Everyone involved had much prior "youthful indiscretion"
and all agreed that while of inferior quality-sometimes quantity IS quality.Reasonably smooth and deceptively tasty- big Rasta style spliffs did the trick.All in all a quality smoking experience.I would say destroying such feral plant is a waste of the taxpayers dollar though.It would only have significant market value in a "drought".
Does get you high though-very high if you don't have anything else and you smoke enough of it.

Wed, 01/10/2007 - 2:27am Permalink
bob66 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

People who don't smoke cigarettes can get high smoking one. Although I feel the are associating high with light headed
Tue, 03/10/2015 - 7:32pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I've stumbled into "wild"patches of track weed off the beaten path. It might have been somebody's garden of cloned female indica plants that were by chance polinated by rogue males and voluntarily seeded the following year. At any rate some of these finds have been better gauge than pinch bags copped for $5 a gram. I knew a fellow who spent a week and a couple hundred bucks worth of chemicals to extract about enough "hash oil" to get a fly hi. This was from roughly 200 lbs of green loco-weed. Sad state of affairs when a person has to go to such measures to have a little europhia...
Good on ya DWC! My check is in the mail.

Uncle Buster

Sun, 02/11/2007 - 2:46am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Weed gets me high and i like the fealing.So thusforth bringing me to my point..Legalize this shit duuuude..

Tue, 04/17/2007 - 6:41am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah that shit gets me high as fuck

Tue, 04/17/2007 - 3:32pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

why not stick it to them come up with a beautiful unstopable hybrid
losers will give them fight that they cant win RUDERALIS of siberia
american ditch weed hybrid then will work on the thc levels i dont even
smoke but most of america does for the people by the people
im just talking out my ass i dont know if its possible but if it is
maybe thats why they 're tying to get rid of it

Tue, 05/01/2007 - 8:14pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I live in kansas and around here there is ditch weed. Some of it isnt worth messing with and some of it will bud up real big and have white hairs (flowers) and have visible cannaboid crystals. and if dried and cured properly is just as good as some regular stuff you get off the streets.

Mon, 09/03/2007 - 1:00pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

lets all buck on the system and become crackheads.

Tue, 02/12/2008 - 7:00pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

i think w all nd to recognise it as an illigal substance befor the DEA calm down about it. im all for th legalisation of weed but thrs a right and wrong way to go about it

Thu, 02/28/2008 - 11:06am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)


Mon, 06/16/2008 - 1:23am Permalink
The Brian (not verified)

I have a comment to make that not many, apparently, have commented upon. This article appears to be in regard to feral hemp, or industrial hemp, yet the majority of comments have been in regard to marijuana. I am one who does happen to believe that people should have the right to grow marijuana in their homes, yards, greenhouses, or whatever. I am also one who not only destinguishes between industrial hemp and marijuana, but would prefer to see industrial hemp first legalized in Kansas, the State where I reside, before marijuana. The reason is because industrial hemp has over 40,000 different uses and it would create a lot of jobs and opportunities for the people of my State. I would also like to see the DEA halt their eradication programs in regard to feral hemp so that they can continue to claim these great victories in their war on drugs and continue to receive massive funding from the people in this nation. It really does not do the people like me, who are attempting to decriminalize industrial hemp, much justice when others immediately talk about getting high on marijuana whenever they hear the word hemp, or see it in print. If the DEA wishes to enforce marijuana and other drugs, may I recommend that they stop the horseshit eradication of what should be a great industrial crop and begin to focus more upon the reasons that the poppy harvest in Afghanistan reached record bumper crop levels after the U.S. led invasion and occupation of that nation, when the Taliban is reported to have nearly eradicated the plant in 2000 and 2001? Maybe they could focus upon the reason that the New York health department had to recently issue safe use guidelines of heroin? Maybe they should hire a team of monkeys to make the correllation of our invasion of Afghanistan, the increase in poppy planting and harvests, and the irony that the heroin use is increasing in this nation and attempt to combat that, instead of something that I wish to grow to build a house, make clothing with, as well as a ton of additional products? Perhaps they could check into the substantiated allegations that have been made by Cele Castillo, a former DEA head in Latin America, in regard to the CIA trafficking cocaine and other drugs into this nation? Or the connections with the past Clinton and Bush allegations in regard to drug trafficking into this nation? Are thos allegations present, as well? They need to focus upon real issues as opposed to the horseshit eradication of a miracle plant with tens of thousands of uses. There are many others in this comment section, as well as elsewhere, who need to understand that they are not making it easier to override the laws that have criminalized the cultivation of industrial hemp, in this nation, by immediately talking about smoking marijuana when the topic is feral hemp.

Tue, 01/19/2010 - 4:07am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

FuckThe DEA niggas they bitch asses. cant you just leave the weed and the hemp alone u know yourself that, getting weed lagalize would totally help theworld...

Thu, 02/11/2010 - 11:52am Permalink
Mathelsom (not verified)

to "hemp and weed"
-I completely agree, in fact I almost posted something similar until i read your comment.

However my question is, why should getting high be illegal in the first place? If you believe that the effects marijuana has on the human brain is a rationale reason to criminalize it then compare it to the effects of alcohol. In addition to that saying that it is addictive or leads to a lifestyle filled with malaise and apathy is unworthy, although in somecases it can, so can alcohol!

what I find so disturbing about the fight to legalize cannabis isn't all the hippie stoner kids talking about how much the love smoking pot, its the propaganda that is published by our government while they let tobacco and alcohol industries make millions. Instead of legalizing a plant that has soooo many more uses. Medical evidence especially is overwhelming, but they can ignore it?
The legislation that is in effect concerning marijuana gives thousand of people in the government bureaucracy jobs. Where would the DEA be with out their pot smokers? They are much easier to catch that someone doing lines in a bathroom or popping pills. The public has to use their voice. and their vote. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, we have to educate others about marijuana. not just get them high.

Thu, 04/29/2010 - 5:03pm Permalink
terrbear (not verified)

im writing a paper at school on why pot should be legalized and have alot of the admin convinced that it should be itll help the deificet and people will b happy legakize the shit

Wed, 05/19/2010 - 10:16am Permalink

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