What's the Cost? The Federal War on Patients

For twelve years Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has been tracking the passage and implementation of state medical cannabis (marijuana) laws in the United States and compiling raw data on actions taken by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to thwart implementation efforts with tactics such as raids on individual patients and state-authorized dispensing centers, civil actions against property owners and threats to elected officials. The following report summaries that data in an attempt to reveal the tax-payer cost of enforcing outdated federal policies as well as presenting some examples of the other type of cost, the human cost at the center this unpopular war on medical cannabis.

The data was gathered from individuals calling the organization, DEA press releases, news reports and court records. We do not express that this report represents 100% of the federal activity or the findings are 100% accurate. During the drafting of this report updates had be made to the data to reflect 2 more raids, a series of asset forfeiture threats to landlords in Seattle and three individuals self-surrendering to jail to begin 5 year-mandatory minimum sentences.  The authors of the report would welcome alternative numbers presented by the Department of Justice.

The Report Finds

  • 34% of Americans live in states with medical marijuana laws and could increase to 39% this year
  • Over 1 million Americans are legally using medical cannabis
  • This war is being waged on citizens. The report profiles some of the individuals and organizations that are being caught in this war.
  • Nation-wide support of state laws has remained at around 70-80% for nearly two-decades
  • The cost of the federal governments war on medical cannabis to date is nearly 600 million dollars
  • The Obama Administration has out spent the Bush Administration by 120 Million in just 4 ½ years
  • Under the Obama Administration, DEA has spent 1-4% % of their budget on the medical cannabis war
  • Without Congressional intervention, the amount of funds spent on undermining state laws will only increase

It is our hope that this information can help better guide federal policy makers in addressing this costly issue.

page icon

Download What's the Cost Report

In ASA's newest report "What is the Cost", our research found that over the last decade nearly $500 million had been spent by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on raids, federal prosecutions, incarceration, and asset forfeiture suits.