Cannabis Advocates To GOP: Why Not Cut The DEA Budget?


With Republicans in the House claiming they want to cut down on spending for the next fiscal year, marijuana advocates are suggesting they should start with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s budget.

Trimming the federal largesse that keeps the DEA fat and happy makes sense. Billions of dollars are thrown away annually on a quixotic and foolish War On Marijuana that is not supported by the public, that never achieves its goals, and that sees as its victims not only families but civil liberties and respect for law enforcement, as well.
Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project told TPM that the idea makes a lot of sense, reports Ryan J. Reilly.

‚Äč”In the grand scheme of things, the entire federal budget dedicated to keeping marijuana illegal and carrying out all the enforcement measures to do so is really something that is long past its prime,” Fox said.
“I’m not naive enough to think there would be such a major step, but you can just pick it apart and look at the marijuana seizures — the amount of time and energy put into those seizures — is really doing essentially nothing, except maybe having a marginal effect on the price of marijuana,” Fox said. “So all they’re really doing is giving those involved in illegal marijuana dealing a little bit of price support.”
The DEA was told last month — along with the FBI, ATF and the U.S. Marshals Service — to freeze hiring and curb spending in a memo from Attorney General Eric Holder, reports Jason Ryan at ABC News.
The DEA’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2011 noted that marijuana seizures had nearly doubled in fiscal year 2009. The budget request also dismissed the benefits of medical marijuana.
“DEA does not investigate or target individual ‘patients’ who use cannabis, but instead the drug trafficking organizations involved in marijuana trafficking,” the budget proposal said.
Fox said it was a waste for the DEA to spend time and resources raiding medical marijuana facilities in states where medicinal cannabis is legal. But he said he was somewhat encouraged that President Obama told YouTube users that the legalization of some drugs was an “entirely legitimate topic for debate,” even though Obama said he personally opposed legalization.
Meanwhile, conservative Republicans in the House said they planned deep budget cuts, which, according to Democrats, would require the Department of Justice to fire 4,000 FBI agents and 1,500 DEA agents if applied equally across the board.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) could also cut the budget of the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), reports Devlin Barrett at the Wall Street Journal. Conservatives have long said the center is a waste of taxpayer money which hasn’t provided the high-quality analysis of drug networks that it had promised.
An internal White House budget proposal proposes cutting nearly $17 million from NDIC’s budget, saying its functions are duplicated elsewhere in other government anti-drug agencies.