Sponsored Content

America’s Great Victory in the “Ditchweed” War

Blue Ribbon

By Richard Cowan, former NORML National Director and author of Know More About CBD Hemp Oil.



We keep forgetting about one of Orwell’s greatest insights into the mechanics of tyranny, “The Memory Hole.”


I wonder why.


The Memory Hole played an important part in his 1984, because when “Oceania” changed sides in the perpetual war, well, they had “always” been at war with the new enemy.


America has been in so many wars, we may need an “Amnesia Hole.” Indeed, we have a lot to forget, most of all the “Drug War.”   We have to forget that we have arrested over twenty two million Americans and ignore the fact that that is still happening. In fact, we are still arresting over half a million Americans every year on marijuana possession charges. More than for all violent crimes combined.


The helicopters in “Apocalypse Now”, accompanied by Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” was of the great images from the Vietnam war.


See: What Happens to CBD After Marijuana Is Federally Legal?


Now imagine that — not in Vietnam, but all over rural America in the Fall — as troops rappel down from the ‘copters, not going after the Communists, but after the Cannabis. More precisely — feral hemp.  Well, one must do something with all those helicopters.


In 2006, when my old friend Allen St. Pierre was the National Director of NORML, he wrote a report, 98 Percent Of All Domestically Eradicated Marijuana Is “Ditchweed,” DEA Admits


Washington, DC: More than 98 percent of all of the marijuana plants seized by law enforcement in the United States is feral hemp not cultivated cannabis, according to newly released data by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program and the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.


According to the data, available online here: Of the estimated 223 million marijuana plants destroyed by law enforcement in 2005, approximately 219 million were classified as “ditchweed,” a term the agency uses to define “wild, scattered marijuana plants [with] no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending.” Unlike cultivated marijuana, feral hemp contains virtually no detectable levels of THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, and does not contribute to the black market marijuana trade.


Previous DEA reports have indicated that between 98 and 99 percent of all the marijuana plants eradicated by US law enforcement is ditchweed.


St. Pierre criticized the DEA program for spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars to predominantly eradicate wild hemp. “The irony, of course, is that industrial hemp is grown legally throughout most the Western world as a commercial crop for its fiber content,” he said. “Yet the US government is spending taxpayers’ money to target and eradicate this same agricultural commodity.”


According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, “The United States is (was?) the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.” 


St. Pierre said that most of the hemp plants eradicated by law enforcement are remnants of US-government subsidized crops that existed prior to World War II. “Virtually all wild hemp goes unharvested and presents no legitimate threat to public safety,” he said. “As such, it should be of no concern to the federal government or law enforcement.”


According to DEA figures, Indiana reported seizing over 212 million ditchweed plants – far more than any other state. Missouri law enforcement confiscated some 4.5 million plants, and Kansas reported eradicating approximately 1.2 million plants. More than half of all states failed to report their ditchweed totals.


See: The War on Drugs Should Not Include Cannabis


Feral cannabis is an exceptionally hardy weed, widely dispersing its seeds which can lie dormant for 7–10 years before sprouting again. In Minnesota, hemp is classified among the 11 “noxious prohibited weeds” along with several species of thistle, and noted for damaging farmers’ plowing equipment.


Particularly in Indiana, where feral cannabis is most concentrated, authorities have largely ceased eradication attempts, with one police spokesman stating “You can eradicate ditch weed as well as you can eradicate dandelion.”


Both the number of sites targeted for eradication and the number of plants eradicated have fallen steeply since 2009 (by 79% and 62%, respectively), reflecting dramatic expansion of medical and adult-use legalization over the past 11 years.


See: Ask Our Experts: DEA Eradication/Suppression Program


Of course, this does not mean that it has stopped. The DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression program was founded in 1979 and still provides federal funds nationwide to eradicate cannabis.  


See: Prohibition 2.0 Making a Mess of Marijuana Legalization. Just Get Out of the Way


What are the lessons here that have been consigned to the Memory Hole?

  1. The Drug War is eternal. We have always been at war with Cannabis.
  2. The US military is involved in domestic law enforcement.
  3. The Drug War is a boondoggle https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boondoggle
  4. Every Fall the Ditchweed wars were faithfully reported without raising any embarrassing questions that NORML reported.
  5. Now it is still ongoing, but isn’t being reported at all. Meanwhile back at the Memory Hole….