The DEA Plans To Burn Enormous Amounts Of Weed In Arizona
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Ever wonder what the Drug Enforcement Administration does with the enormous amount of marijuana it seizes each year? A recent job advertisement out of the DEA’s Phoenix office gives some insight.
The advertisement requested price estimates from contractors who could help the DEA burn 1,000 pounds of marijuana per hour for up to eight hours a day. That’s four tons of weed per day. There’s no specification for how many days of burning will happen per month. The contract runs from January 2021 to January 2026.
If the amount of weed they plan to burn staggers your imagination, consider this: In 2018 alone, the DEA seized 2.8 million plants and 316,632 pounds of processed marijuana, according to the most recent DEA National Drug Threat Assessment released in December 2019.
For the entrepreneurial-minded person who happens to own an incinerator, the DEA quickly stressed in the advertisement that it is not a request for a proposal. The administration is looking for businesses big and small to contact them and let them know their price to do the job. They also provided guidelines for whatever business gets to do the burn. They will need to have:
- An incinerator with the capability of destroying marijuana beyond any "detectable levels."
- The ability to burn 1,000 pounds of bulk marijuana an hour and packing materials such as cardboard, wrapping paper, Saran Wrap, aluminum foil, duct tape and derivatives, Scotch tape and derivatives, packing tape, and derivatives, plastic evidence bags, etc.
- The ability to burn the marijuana without opening any boxes or mixing it with other materials (they'll have someone on hand to monitor the site and make sure everything gets burned, by the way).
- All the necessary licenses to own and operate the incinerator.
- Additionally, the incinerator facility must accommodate semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, cargo vans, and forklifts and come equipped with CCTV.
Interestingly, the winning contractor must drug test any employee involved with the burning, as well as perform a background check. The drug test must have been performed at least once a year.
Sounds doable? The burns are taking place in Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales, Yuma, Sierra Vista, and Flagstaff.
Why burn it?
While more than half the states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, cannabis remains a Schedule I illegal substance at the federal level. That’s why the DEA burns millions of pounds of weed per year.
Indeed, there could be other uses for DEA-seized cannabis without allowing it on the market. For example, scientists across the country have clamored to get their hands on consumer-grade weed for research purposes. The only cannabis the government allows them to use for research comes from the University of Mississippi. Scientists have complained about the university's low-grade weed for years, saying it is inferior to the marijuana available to consumers. One scientist has even filed a lawsuit over the issue.
The black market weed might better meet the standards for research, but no one will ever know. And with a six-year contract, it appears the DEA expects to keep paying people to burn marijuana for many years to come.