It’s clear that the US is seeing a surge in white nationalist-inspired domestic terror. After the tragic mass shootings in Texas and Ohio last week, the national conversation swiftly turned to ideas on how to fight domestic terrorism. Donald Trump, whose divisive rhetoric could be argued as contributing to racially-motivated violence, paid lip service to fighting the rising blight, promising federal officers “whatever they need” to effectively counteract homegrown terrorists. However, VICE News reports that Trump should first look at the money his administration spends destroying cannabis plants.
Because while domestic terrorists have killed more Americans than foreign ones over the past two decades, Trump has cut funding for programs designed to fight homegrown extremists. That includes the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Community Partnerships, which focuses on supporting local communities to counter extremism. Under the Trump administration, the OCP has lost $18 million in funding, which is the same figure spent on searching for and eliminating cannabis plants.
“This administration has shown that they are minimizing the issue of domestic terrorism,” said Daryl Johnson, a former DHS analyst, told VICE News. “At a time when we have heightened activity and the body count keeps rising, training is being defunded and grant money taken back.”
Previously, under the Obama administration, the OCP enjoyed a $21 million total budget that afforded them a full-time staff of 16 employees and 25 contractors. Trump cut that budget to below $3 million a year and only 8 full-time employees, while also re-branding it “The Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships.” The majority of the grants previously given to the OCP is now dedicated to programs that “explicitly target minority groups, including Muslims, LGBTQ Americans, Black Lives Matter Activists, immigrants, and refugees,” according to a Brennan Center for Justice study at New York University School of Law.
In May, former head of the OCP, George Selim, told Congress, “The government in fact has reduced resources to counter domestic terrorism, leaving our communities vulnerable to the next inevitable tragedy,” reported VICE News.
However, a 1970s-era program designed to uncover and eradicate illegal marijuana grows is still going strong. The Drug Enforcement Agency program, called the “Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program,” costs around $18 million. Most of that funding is spent in California, where marijuana is legal, though the state maintains a highly lucrative black market. While helicopter rentals account for the highest cost, the DEA allegedly doesn’t even know where most of that allocated budget goes, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Some other exorbitant expenses from the Trump administration includes $21 million spent on furniture by the DOJ last September. In the same month, the DHS blew $51 million on public relations. And the DOJ and Department of Defense spent around $14 million for Trump’s four visits to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida between February and March 2017.
Maybe the first step, however, is recognizing that fighting domestic terrorism requires more funds than maintaining marijuana prohibition in states where the plant is legal.