DEA Is Wrong: Weed Grows and Meth Houses Not Same

Imaginary problems do not lead to real solutions.

Even if an illegal meth lab and a clandestine marijuana grow were located on the same suburban residential block, housed directly across the street from one another, or right next door, no rational and objective observer would say those two structures were in the same neighborhood—in any terms other than spatial, that is.

When it comes to marijuana cultivation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, among its other failings, is by no means a rational and objective observer. The DEA is the federal government’s primary enforcer of cannabis (and other drug) prohibition. The perspectives of its mission, which may be misguided, color its views.

A recently unclassified DEA intelligence report from June 2016 puts the agency’s bias right out in the title: “Residential Marijuana Grows in Colorado: The New Meth Houses?”

The DEA is equating, in a rhetorical way, semi-pro horticulture projects with a scorched-earth Breaking Bad scenario. It bases this equivalence on assumptions that legalizing weed in Colorado “led to a proliferation of large-scale marijuana grow operations in hundreds of homes throughout the state” and that “much like the ‘meth houses’ of the 1990s, many of these homes may ultimately be rendered uninhabitable.”

This uninhabitable future, the DEA warns, will befall the Coors state through a disastrous combination of dank odors, cooling-systems whir, and ventilation holes cut in floors and walls. In short, similar risks as inflicted by any number of Internet startups throughout the region.

A non-DEA-approved perspective from Marijuana News:

“Colorado’s laws have shifted the vast majority of marijuana growing out of homes and into tightly controlled facilities,” Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) told Marijuana.com in an email. “If an adult is doing it privately and in accordance with state laws, it is no more dangerous than an adult brewing his or her own beer.”

Ultimately, by asking if weed grows will create meth houses, the DEA is concerning itself with something that has not at the present time happened. The agency might better serve the American public, if not the DEA’s own interests of self-preservation and expansion, by addressing situations that exist in the current reality. For instance, right this moment, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 substance. As such, weed is designated as devoid of medical value, and the country’s accredited researchers are prevented from determining its healing potential.

The DEA is the government entity responsible for that classification. As such, the DEA hinted earlier this year that it would amend cannabis’s Schedule 1 status before the end of July. The agency has allowed that self-set deadline for positive action to pass without effecting any change.

Rescheduling marijuana is a problem the DEA can address on its own home turf. It doesn’t need to go out erecting fantastical meth houses of the future to find work that needs to be done today.