Numbers released by the Drug Enforcement Agency show that $18 million in taxpayer funded money was spent on eradicating and destroying cannabis plants in 2015. 

The funds were given to 128 local and state enforcement agencies who used the money to find, confiscate and destroy cannabis plants as part of the DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program.

The program helps to pay for expenses such as helicopters which can be used to find cannabis growing operations from above, with the help of thermal and high precision camera technology.

Only Colorado and Alaska didn’t accept any funds through the program. They both continued to look for illegal grows, particularly those that are suspected to be growing above the personal limit for export outside the state. 

In 2015 the DEA and their affiliates destroyed over 4 million cannabis plants, at an average spending of $4.42 a plant.

Lawmakers pushed to cut funding to the Cannabis Eradication Program last year and instead wanted to the funnel the money towards things like domestic violence prevention. Unfortunately, the proposals were unsuccessful and the eradication program received its traditional budget.

Critics of the program continue to speak out against what they say are muddled up priorities, and that the money could be spent on other efforts, particularly drugs that cause more harm to society and the user.

“It makes zero sense for the federal government to continue to spend taxpayer dollars on cannabis eradication at a time when states across the country are looking to legalize marijuana,” said California Representative Ted Lieu.

Lieu led the effort last fall to de-fund the DEA’s program.

“I will continue to fight against DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication Program in Congress and work to redirect these funds to worthwhile programs,” he added.