Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued a report today detailing the costs associated with the federal government's years-long enforcement effort in medical marijuana states. The report states that since 1996 the Justice Department has spent nearly half a billion dollars to investigate, raid, arrest, prosecute, and imprison hundreds of medical marijuana patients and their providers.
The report reveals that President Obama has far outspent his predecessors, dedicating nearly $300 million to enforcement efforts, despite his repeated pledges to not use Justice Department funds in that way. Obama's DEA has spent approximately $8 million to carry out 270 paramilitary-style raids. Investigative efforts such as indictments and lawsuits totaled more than $200 million.
The report also addresses "the human and monetary costs of enforcing unpopular and outdated federal policies." The report notes how the prosecution of Michigan medical marijuana patient Jerry Duval, who surrendered to federal authorities Tuesday to serve out a 10-year prison sentence, has exacted both an economic and social toll. Not only will it cost taxpayers more than $1 million to imprison Duval, but the federal government’s prosecution of Jerry and his son Jeremy, and the seizure of their family farm, have devastated his family. Remarkably, the Justice Department has never claimed that the Duvals violated Michigan's medical marijuana law in any way.
The Obama Administration has also made an unprecedented effort to seize the property of patients, their providers, and the landlords that lease to them. Federal law allows the government to seize a person's property even though they have not been convicted of a crime. Hundreds of letters threatening asset forfeiture and criminal prosecution have shuttered more than 500 dispensaries in California, Colorado and Washington State.
The report concludes with a set of recommendations urging the federal government to take immediate action to address its outdated and harmful policy on medical marijuana.