Law Enforcement Efforts To Control Domestically Grown Marijuana

GGD-84-77: Published: May 25, 1984. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal assistance designed to address the domestic marijuana cultivation problem and, specifically, it reviewed the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) domestic marijuana eradication and suppression state assistance program. Identified during the review were DEA and National Guard Bureau actions which should improve eradication efforts.

According to law enforcement agencies, marijuana is being cultivated in all 50 states and accounts for 15 percent of the total amount available in the United States. DEA is responsible for assisting state and local agencies in efforts to control marijuana cultivation, and in 1982 DEA established the eradication/suppression program. States participating in the program reported that the major impact of their enforcement efforts was that growers changed their cultivation methods by moving operations indoors or growing in smaller, scattered plots. However, states expect marijuana production to increase, and they stated that additional resources to combat the increase are needed, such as better intelligence, helicopters, and off-road vehicles. GAO found that the National Guard and the Department of Defense may be able to help meet some of the state and local law enforcement needs, but that most agencies were unaware that this assistance may have been available or did not know how to request it. DEA stated that it had not provided states with information on such assistance in 1983 because it was still determining what type of assistance could be offered by the military under existing law; during the GAO review, DEA provided guidance to its field offices concerning use of military resources. As suggested during the GAO review, the National Guard Bureau has amended its enforcement guidelines to specify the types of direct assistance that Guard units in training are authorized to provide to law enforcement authorities and the conditions under which this assistance may be provided.

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