DEA Plant Eradication Decline, as Processed Cannabis Seizures Hit a Record High
- As eradications decreased, the DEA’s number of interceptions of bulk processed cannabis nearly tripled, jumping 181%, from nearly 54,000 pounds in 2009 to over 151,000 last year.
- Rising volume in bulk cannabis interceptions reflects increased enforcement as the DOJ targets product diversion from legal markets to states where cannabis remains illegal or unregulated.
- Cannabis-related arrests, too, have fallen by more than half — indicating that while the agency apprehends fewer people, suspects are involved with greater quantities of product. For example, in 2009 the average arrest involved 5.3 lbs. of processed cannabis per suspect, which jumped to 33.7 lbs. (6.4x) per suspect in 2017.
- While legalization may constrain federal prohibition enforcement efforts, the DOJ has expressed strong support for civil asset forfeitures as a prohibition enforcement tool, suggesting that asset seizures may see a resurgence even as overall eradication activity significantly declines.