DEA Plans To Burn Tons Of Marijuana This Summer

By Kelly Burch 03/27/19

Tons of seized marijuana will go up in smoke in the coming months.

Image: 
DEA agent holding a handful of marijuana before burning it

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wants to burn tons of weed over the next six months, and is looking for the right contractor to help with the job. 

According to a contracting notice, the agency wants to burn 1,000 pounds of marijuana an hour between March and September. The contract is for the “destruction by incineration of evidence located in the following cities in the state of Texas—McAllen, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and Eagle Pass.”

Despite putting out the notice, the DEA already has a partner in mind for the epic pot burn: Tucson Iron & Metal in Tucson, Arizona. 

“Research has shown there is only one vendor in close proximity to the district and resident offices of McAllen, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and Eagle Pass capable of providing the services necessary for this requirement,” the notice says. 

That’s because the DEA has strict requirements for disposing of marijuana seized from the black market, according to Quartz

“The integrity of the destruction process shall be such that the material to be destroyed cannot be redirected or retrieved once it is committed to destruction,” the notice reads. The cannabis must be destroyed “to a point where there are no detectable levels, as measured by standard analytical methods, of byproduct from the destruction process. DEA shall inspect the incinerator to ensure no drug residue remains.”

In addition, there will be tight DEA regulation of the entire process, and a need to privacy. The DEA requires that the company that destroys the pot have a large fence on their premises, and drug test employees yearly. The DEA sends staff to oversee the burns, and also records them. 

The agency “reserves the right to access the video feed as necessary to ensure the proper destruction of its drugs and safety of its representatives.”

The Atlanta office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also looking for a contractor to help dispose of drug evidence, including marijuana, meth, cocaine and more. 

Recently the DEA put out a different type of contracting notice, asking for help finding a product that could assist agents in differentiating between hemp (which is legal federally) and psychoactive marijuana as we know it (which is not). The different species of cannabis plant can confuse DEA agents.

In addition to destroying drug evidence, the DEA is also responsible for approving applications to grow marijuana for research. The agency has promised to make more permits available, but the process has been slow, further delaying marijuana research. 

“The DEA continues to review applications for registration and registers the number of bulk manufacturers of a controlled substance that is necessary to produce an adequate and uninterrupted supply,” the agency wrote last year. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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