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Feds ramp up enforcement against marijuana growing in 2016

Cannabis plants seized by the federal government between 2010 - 2016.
Cannabis plants seized by the federal government between 2010 – 2016.

Plants and assets seized during federal busts for growing marijuana rose in 2016, ending a downward trend since 2010, according to the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program Statistical Report by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

On the year, total cannabis plants seized increased to over 5.3 million compared to 3.9 million in 2012. More than 10.3 million were seized in 2010. Texas accounted for 333,058 plants, with California leading the way at 3,777,937.

Total arrests for cultivation in 2016 were 5,657 which has been part of a near steady decrease since 9,687 in 2010 and 6,278 in 2015. Of those arrests, Texas saw 25, while California led with 2,002, and Kentucky making a distant second at 691. Six states ( Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah, Vermont) plus Virgin Islands had five or fewer with three seeing none at all. In some instances, cannabis plants were found however no one was arrested.

Seized assets worth just under $52 million in 2016 represented nearly double a previous low of $27.3 million in 2014. The value of assets seized fluctuated between 2010 and 2016 however, with $34.3 million (2010), $42.1 million (2011), $32 million (2012), $29.8 million (2013), and 29.7 million (2015).

Florida experienced the most assets seized with $23,905,180 while Texas clocked in at $472,400. California came in second with $10,494,508.77 and led the next closest state (Arizona) by $6.2 million.

Many in the cannabis community have expressed concerns about United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has indicated he wants to ramp up the enforcement of federal marijuana laws, including in states where the plant is legal. 2016 was the final year of the Obama Administration, and whether or not the Trump Administration will increase those numbers greatly hinges on a federal budget amendment getting passed again which prevents the federal government from spending money to go after those who are in compliance with state laws.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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