Legal marijuana has slowly become a major industry in the United States, but the DEA is holding strong onto an archaic practice, the cannabis eradication program. 23 states have legalized medical marijuana, and 4 states have legalized recreational marijuana, with many more on track to legalize this year, yet the DEA has a massive spending budget to specifically hunt down marijuana grows. $18 million was spent on finding and uprooting 4.1 million cannabis plants this year. Taxes are being used in some states to fund teams of helicopters in search of marijuana, while other programs go underfunded.
Last year, a group of lawmakers led by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tried to pass legislation to redirect marijuana eradication funds to perhaps more productive uses, such as domestic violence prevention programs. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful, and Lieu is dismayed to see the program continue. "Marijuana needs to be removed from Schedule I classification, and DEA should stop this wasteful program," he said via email