What happens to confiscated marijuana?

June 20, 2012

From Friday to Sunday United States border patrol agents confiscated over 2 tons of marijuana with an estimated value of $3.2 million.  The marijuana was seized in multiple seizures in the Rio Grande Valley sector.  

Last week agents seized about half a ton of marijuana at a check point on I-35 stashed inside a hidden compartment of a tractor trailer.  The weed was estimated to be worth about a million dollars.

Now that’s a lot of marijuana.  On an average week the DEA seizes over $20 million worth of marijuana, cocaine and meth along with millions of dollars of property. What happens to seized marijuana? When asked what happens to the goods, the department responds with the pat answer “it gets destroyed”.  It’s held until investigations are completed and until cases are adjudicated and then the destruction.  But how?  The DEA does not give details about the process.  

When drugs are seized the press are notified immediately of the confiscation with specific details on the amount and the estimated value.  It would seem that the government would be more forthcoming with details on what happens to it, as is the case in other countries.  In Thailand, 15 tons of drugs were ceremoniously burned in public with children making anti-drug pacts.  In Haiti, 2200 kilos of confiscated drugs were burned in a public forum.  Why doesn’t that happen here?  

In some cases, border patrol agents maintain the confiscated drugs themselves.  No details are disclosed in these instances either.  It is just reported that the seized material is handled internally and later destroyed.  

In Washington State, a cop took some confiscated marijuana home with him and later reported that his dog ate it.  Did that really happen?  Yes it did.  This department has come under fire for other instances of mishandling evidence.  A neighboring department says that this particular police department does not have the funding for proper training. 

Should we demand a more open policy from our government on when and how they destroy confiscated property?