Southern California’s San Bernardino County to Decide on Agreement with DEA Cannabis Eradication Program

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On Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will determine whether to approve a letter of agreement between its Sheriff’s Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency, signaling that it will participate in its 2019 Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.

This letter of agreement comes on the heels of a recent court decision that forced Fontana, the second most populous city in the county, to re-draft an ordinance that sought to place stringent requirements on home grows. The American Civil Liberties Union and Drug Policy Alliance waged the suit against the city, and the judge said Fontana had “gone too far.”

In his recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, Sheriff John McMahon indicated that, since 1999, the DEA has provided funding every year in order “to defray the County’s costs relating to eradication and suppression of illicit marijuana.” The program, added McMahon, addresses “activities involved in the suppression of illicit marijuana,” including “making arrests and referring cases for prosecution.”

In February, the DEA notified the San Bernardino County’s Sheriff Department of a $151,000 grant to reimburse expenses related to its participation in the program. In making the availability of those funds known, the DEA indicated that the Department will be required to send samples of eradicated illicit cannabis to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Potency Monitoring Project, as well as utilize federal tracking systems to report all statistics and seizures. The Department will also be obligated to make all related “investigative reports, records, accounts, invoices, receipts, and expenditures” available for examining and auditing by the DEA and other “duly authorized” federal agents.  

Moreover, because adult use is legal in California, the DEA also underscored that the funding, which is only available by electronic transfer through Wells Fargo, cannot be used to issue any “forms of authorization permitting the holder to manufacture, distribute, sell or use marijuana in contravention of the [Controlled Substances Act],” nor to monitor compliance with state or local regulations that permit the sale of cannabis. Doing so, said the DEA, “will be a basis for denial of future Federal funds.”

As Cannabis Wire recently reported, the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program is a nationwide endeavor that targets California and several Appalachian states. Some states like Colorado, have completely stopped requesting federal funding associated with this program.

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