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DEA Report: Cannabis Seizures Climbed by Nearly 20% Last Year

October 9, 2017
Seizure of 57 bundles of marijuana weighing more than 1,200 pound at the Texas border along the Rio Grande, Wednesday, June 8, 2011 in Abram, Texas. (Eric Gay/AP)
With eight states voting to legalize some form of cannabis, the pace of cannabis legalization picked up in 2016—but enforcement action by the DEA showed no sign of slowing down. New data from the federal agency indicates cannabis seizures increased by 20% last year.

According to annual data in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, agents confiscated more than 5.3 million cannabis plants in the United States during 2016.


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The 5,348,922 plants seized by the DEA was the most confiscated by the agency since 2011, when the agents confiscated over 6.7 million plants.

The value of seized property and cash also climbed last year. Asset forfeitures in cannabis eradication efforts totaled $51,937,207.01, almost doubling the amount seized in 2015 ($29,705,902.43).


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Nearly all the seized plants were on outdoor grows—only 7% of seized plants came from indoor operations.

As NORML Deputy Director Paul Armanto notes, the DEA’s eradication efforts centered on California, with 71% of the seized plants coming from that state. The agency recorded more than 3.77 million cannabis plants seized in the Golden State last year, a fairly large increase over 2015’s total of 2.64 million seized plants.


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Other states that saw a lot of cannabis seized included Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Kentucky saw over a half a million cannabis plants seized in 2016, along with 211 weapons also—one of the highest totals of any state. Texas, meanwhile had 333,000 plants seized in 2016, while Florida led the country in assets seized. In all, $23,905,180 in assets were seized in the state last year, nearly half the national total.


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Gage Peake's Bio Image

Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • Ginin Abottle

    Yeah what I wanna know is what are people doing to do about this?

    • max’s pad

      People are passing laws for legalization while the increasingly fascist group in DC are ready to ignore the law and use their deeply held vigilante brand of intimidation and violence.

      • Ginin Abottle

        Pft laws… lol. It’s still federally illegal and will likely remain that way forever. Yeah you might be able to get your weed, but the entire industry is going to crash and burn. Just like it should. Too many losers smoking dope.

  • Merry Christmas Mr Cricket

    Man, the cartel’s must be somad rn. Their markets are vanishing and the DEA is stealing all their brickweed.

    • eric price

      And the assets of US citizens caught up in the senseless war on cannabis.

    • max’s pad

      Besides, pharma, the cartels are one of the biggest sources of funding for the anti legalization and against medical marijuana laws. I suspect Sessions is their personal house elf.

  • Rob Woodside

    Civil forfeiture is an amazing medieval practice, not unlike trial by ordeal where in God would save you from certain death if you were innocent. Oddly none survived trial by ordeal, just as few survive civil forfeiture. Similarly guilt or innocence is just as irrelevant in both. Americans often proudly say their country is based on laws. So was Nazi Germany, but there civil forfeiture was based on their race laws and in the States it is based on Reefer Madness.

    I had no idea of the millions annually reaped by civil forfeiture. No wonder they don’t want dope legalized. Empires have been built in government, law enforcement, corrections, and organized crime on the back of prohibition and legalization endangers them. Reefer Madness keeps them alive and well.

  • LanceJZ

    Must be nice, the government gets to steal peoples stuff.

  • James crow

    Who is against cannabis legalization in our nation today? Why do they want to keep cannabis illegal? The answer is easy and has nothing to do with public safety, just follow the money! Politicians corrupted, Drug cartels and organized crime will lose $100,000,000,000 (100 BILLION) in cannabis sales forever in favor of legitimate business, regulation and taxation. Corrupt DEA officials, Court forced cannabis rehab centers will go out of business, Police and Private prisons will lose federal grant money, Big pharmaceutical corporations are scared witless that cannabis will replace their multi-billion dollar addictive stranglehold, The alcoholic beverage industries are one of the largest financial lobby against cannabis legalization.