According to new data by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), cannabis arrests in 2021 rose to 6,606 — up from 4,992 in 2020 — according to annual data from the DEA outlined by NORML. Additionally, 5.53 million cannabis plants were seized last year, marking a 20% increase year-to-year from 2020.
The numbers represent the highest enforcement figures since 2011 when the agency reported 8,500 cannabis arrests and having confiscated over 6.7 million plants, the report says.
NORML’s Political Director Morgan Fox said, “The fact that these interdiction efforts are growing — at great cost to the taxpayer — despite increasing momentum for legalization is a testament to the failure of federal prohibition and unnecessarily burdensome state regulatory policies.”
“Lack of access to banking services and capital, high barriers to entry into legal cannabis markets, and exorbitant tax rates at all levels of government are clearly hampering the ability of licensed cannabis businesses to compete with the unregulated market.” — Fox, in a statement
Notably, the suppression and eradication report says the DEA and their local partners seized $103 million in assets in 2021, twice as much as in 2020. California takes the top spot for most arrests and plant seizures with 60% of all arrests and 86% of plant confiscations coming from it alone. The report also highlights the large amounts of plants taken in Kentucky (317,621) and Oklahoma (158,124), according to Forbes.
“The solutions to this situation are beyond obvious at this point, and they don’t involve law enforcement officers putting themselves at risk by dropping out of helicopters or conducting armed raids,” Fox said.