DEA: Marijuana-Related Seizures, Arrests Increase In 2020

Washington, DC: Federal law enforcement agents and their partners seized over four-and-a-half million marijuana plants and made nearly 5,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2020, according to annual data compiled by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. 

According to figures published in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program Statistical Report, agents and their partners confiscated approximately 4.54 million cannabis plants last year – a nearly 20 percent increase over 2019’s totals. Law enforcement also reported 4,992 marijuana-related arrests, up slightly from 2019 (when agents reported 4,718 arrests). 

Both figures are down significantly from a decade ago, when the DEA seized over 8.7 million marijuana plants and made over 8,500 annual arrests as part of its nationwide Eradication/Suppression activities. Annual figures have largely been declining since that time. 

Commenting on the data trends, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “While marijuana enforcement is arguably not the same priority that it once was for the DEA – likely because of changes in state policies and in federal budgetary guidelines – this does not mean that the agency is content to look the other way at violations of federal marijuana law. There are still several thousands of Americans arrested for federal marijuana violations each year – even at a time when some seven in ten Americans believe that the plant ought to be legal for adults to use and possess.”

As in past years, the overwhelming percentage of plant seizures (82 percent) and arrests (40 percent) nationwide took place in California. Agents seized over $41 million in assets related to marijuana-related eradication efforts in 2020. 

The DEA’s 2020 totals are available online.