Plant seizures were up in 2019, but marijuana-related arrests were down. That’s the takeaway from the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report released this week.

The DEA said it confiscated a little more than four million cannabis plants last year, which according to NORML, was up from 2.8 million plants seized in 2018.

The number of marijuana-related arrests in 2019 came to 4,718, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which NORML said was a drop of about 16 percent from the year before.

It is the opposite of what the DEA reported a year ago, when it said that its agents had seized fewer marijuana plants in 2018 but made more arrests.

Much of the drop in plant seizures last year came from “a nearly 40 percent reduction in the seizure of outdoor plants in California, which fell from 2.24 million in 2017 to 1.4 million in 2018,” according to NORML. 

More than 1,500 arrests in 2019 came in California, more than any other state. Most of the plant-seizures—about 3.1 million—also came in the Golden State. The DEA said the total value in assets seized came to about $29.4 million. The second highest total of plant seizures came in Kentucky, where DEA agents seized more than 411,000 marijuana plants.

California and Kentucky also had the highest total of plant seizures in 2018. 

“Following the enactment of statewide adult-use cannabis legalization laws, both DEA-related marijuana arrests and seizures have fallen dramatically,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “That said, these totals affirm that targeting marijuana-related growing operations still remains a DEA priority, even at a time when most Americans have made it clear that they want cannabis policies to head in a very different direction.”

NORML said that the 4,718 arrests was the second lowest number of arrests reported by the DEA in the last decade. In 2011, according to NORML, “the DEA seized over 8.7 million marijuana plants and made over 8,500 annual arrests as part of its nationwide Eradication/Suppression activities.”

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