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

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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