Recreational cannabis is legal in Oregon, but not under federal law, so the federal Drug Enforcement Agency is still funding the destruction of weed plants in the Beaver State—16,067 of them in 2014, according to findings by NBC-affiliate KGW.
You may or may not find that troubling, depending on your how you feel about marijuana use. But almost everyone will be disturbed to hear that it cost the DEA $960,000 to destroy those 16,067 plants. That’s a staggering $60 of federal taxpayer dollars per plant.
As the Washington Post Wonkblog notes, that’s far higher than the national average of the $4.20 per plant. So what is the DEA doing in Oregon that raised the disposal cost 1,329%?
“In Oregon, the bulk of the anti-pot money is used for police to search for marijuana farms by helicopter and then have officers trample though the woods to pull out plants,” writes Kyle Iboshi, the KGW reporter who also noted that the state paid out $275,000 in overtime for police to pull weeds.
Many groups and members of congress see program this as a huge waste and want to defund the Cannabis Eradication Program, especially since the program is in full effect in states that have legalized. Supporters of the destruction program argue that the large marijuana farms it targets are connected to Mexican drug cartels—though the Wonkblog notes the Office of National Drug Control Policy dismissed that connection in 2012.
The good news? For 2015, the budget for plant eradication has been reduced to a mere $762,000.