OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington State Patrol said Monday it expects its Marijuana Eradication Program, which has confiscated hundreds of thousands of plants and arrested dozens of illegal growers, to continue despite the passage of I-502.
The initiative legalizes the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana, but still prohibits producing it.
WSP’s program has operated for most of the decade, and last year took down roughly 200,000 plants, down from 600,000 three years earlier. Lt. Ron Mead with the Narcotics Division said those figures are a sign the program works.
“Our eradication efforts have been aggressive in recent years,” Lt. Mead explained, “And will continue to be aggressive in coming years.”
The question of funding comes from a state analysis produced last March. It “assumed” that if I-502 passed, Washington may no longer be eligible for the $1.5 million in federal funds that supports the eradication effort. In the U.S. Department of Justice’s eyes, marijuana of any kind is illegal.
A spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration could not comment on funding the eradication program, but Lt. Mead said there is no reason to believe anything will change.
“It is our expectation and our hope that the level of marijuana eradication funding remains constant,” he said, “We have no indication that it won’t.”
Still others wonder whether it is worth it. State Rep. Roger Goodman (D – Kirkland) said Monday while cultivating marijuana remains illegal, “politically, I don’t see a reason to spend money on (the program).”
Rep. Goodman, who supported I-502 and sits on the public safety committee, added, “It’s the federal government’s drug war, let them pay for it. We’re not going to pay for it anymore.”
“If somebody thinks post-502 that Washington is going to be a safe-haven for growing marijuana,” said Lt. Mead, “They’re mistaken.”