A new bipartisan bill would eliminate a controversial source of funding for one federal marijuana seizure program. Last week, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced the “Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act.” The bill is quite simple: It would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from using federal forfeiture funds to pay for its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. Additionally, the bill would ban transferring property to federal, state or local agencies if that property “is used for any purpose pertaining to” the DEA’s marijuana eradication program.
Under this program, the DEA receives federal forfeiture funds ($18 million in 2013), which it then funnels to over 120 local and state agencies to eliminate marijuana grow sites nationwide. Last year, the program was responsible for over 6,300 arrests, eradicating over 4.3 million marijuana plants and seizing $27.3 million in assets. More than half of all plants destroyed were in California, which also accounted for over one-third of seized assets and nearly 40 percent of the arrests.
Across the country, drug cops have ensnared countless innocent Americans. In February 2014, the DEA seized a college student’s entire life savings, without finding any drugs or charging him with a drug crime. The student, Charles Clarke, has since partnered with the Institute for Justice and sued to win back his cash. In Georgia, the Governor’s Task Force for Drug Suppression raided an Atlanta retiree’s garden last year after spotting suspicious-looking green plants. But the plants weren’t marijuana: They were okra. The task force received federal forfeiture funding through the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.