Are the times a-changing or is the Drug Enforcement Administration just running out of time and money to bother with marijuana?
Following an all-time peak in marijuana eradication during the first years of the Obama Administration -- as we've reported before, federal and state cops hauled away 10 million pot plants in 2010 -- seizures of illegal marijuana plants by the DEA have plummeted by nearly 60 percent in California, according to NORML, which says these statistics are reason to celebrate.
But not so fast. On closer inspection, there were roughly as many busts, yet more weed in pounds was hauled away. It could also be that pot cops are getting smarter and hitting growers when it hurts: harvest time.
First, the numbers: In 2010, federal agents arrested 1,591 people at 2,272 grow sites, indoor and outdoor, and ripped up 7.3 million plants.
That was and will be the high-water mark, in no small part because once Gov. Jerry Brown took office, he eliminated the state Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, which added a few million more busts.
Since then -- a year which also coincided with the apex of the state's green rush -- federal busts have gone way down. In 2012, CAMP's successor agency tore down about 800,000 plants as of late September, with another 2 million taken away by the feds.
That's way fewer plants, yet pot busts are actually increasing. There were 2,000 arrests in 2012, with 64,920 pounds of "processed" pot taken away.
That's well over double the 31,692 pounds seized in 2009, and still more than the 52,900 taken in 2010.
In other words, the war is still on -- it may just be getting smarter.