DEA scolded for handling of marijuana eradication program

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The agency doles out millions without verifying how the money is spent

A federal watchdog has bitten the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). According to a report from yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has gone after the DEA for its handling of a marijuana eradication program that gives millions annually to protect public lands from illegal marijuana, and other drug, grow farms. While that sounds like a worthy plan on the surface, the anti-drug agency has not conducted any tests to ensure that the money was spent for its intended purpose.

The GAO indicates that the DEA has not collected necessary documentation from local or state law enforcement partners receiving money through the program. It also “has not clearly documented all of its program goals or developed performance measures to assess progress toward those goals,” according to the watchdog’s report.

The DEA hands out around $17 million each year to a number of partners in order for the partners to be able to eradicate the public landscape – including national parks and forests – of illegal cannabis fields. However, the agency has no way of knowing whether or not the money is being used appropriately.

Due to the discrepancies, the GAO has made a few recommendations to the DEA. It wants to see the DEA Administrator create and implement a specific action plan that includes time frames and other strictly assigned details in order to ensure that contractors are carrying out their duties.

Additionally, the Administrator needs to clarify guidance on the Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program (DCE/SP). The clarification should cover reporting requirements related to the eradication and suppression of marijuana grow farms. Along with that, the DEA needs to document the program goals of the DCE/SP.

The DEA will also be tasked with creating a program that will measure the performance of the DCE/SP program participants. The performance will consider baselines, targets and ties to program goals and, while not specified in the GAO’s report, failure to adhere to the program could result in forfeiture of operations.

The DEA has already reviewed the report, as has the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DEA hasn’t yet responded, by the DOJ agrees with the recommended changes, so they will almost definitely be implemented.