A new report has revealed that American police spent more money searching for and destroying cannabis plants than it did fighting domestic terrorism.
Despite Donald Trump offering federal officers ‘whatever they need’ following the recent Ohio shootings, VICE News has pointed out that the President may need to look at his spending habits first.
The report revealed that $18 million was spent in 2018 fighting against marijuana, while funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Community Partnerships has been cut by the same figure.
The OCP works to support local communities to counter extremism and prevent ‘homegrown extremists’.
Over the last two decades, more American citizens have been killed by extremists who were brought up in their own country than foreign extremists.
Daryl Johnson, a former Department of Homeland Security analyst, has been warning of home-grown extremism for a decade.
He told VICE News: “This administration has shown that they are minimizing the issue of domestic terrorism. At a time when we have heightened activity and the body count keeps rising, training is being defunded and grant money taken back.”
More than 20 people were shot and 7 were killed in the Ohio shooting on August 31. It was the second mass shooting to hit Texas in August.
Under Obama, the OCP has access to a budget of $21 million, which allowed it to pay 16 employees and 25 contractors.
Trump has slashed the budget to just under $3 million which can afford just 8 full-time employees.
The office has also been rebranded as ‘The Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships’, with the majority of grants now focused on programs that explicitly target minority groups.
A Brennan Center for Justice study at New York University School of Law said that included Muslims, LGBTQ Americans, Black Lives Matter Activists, immigrants, and refugees.
Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Agency program called the Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program is still going strong.
Most of the $18 million it receives annually is spent in California where marijuana is legal. However, the state hosts a highly lucrative black market.
It seems that the recent legalization of CBD oil hasn’t reduced the amount spent on marijuana each year, even though this product offers a more cost-effective result: each bottle lasts around 13 days.
The pet, beauty and even the food industries have all jumped on the cannabidiol bandwagon, offering products that promise to relieve anxiety, stress, and even help the consumer to sleep better.
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, otherwise known as the farm bill, was signed into law by Donald Trump on 20th December 2018.
This bill moved hemp from a list of controlled substances and made it an ordinary agricultural commodity. It is now legal in more than 30 states, with Texas one of the latest to give it the all-clear.
The DHS office used to oversee a $10 million grant for Chicago’s Life After Hate which helps people leave neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, but its funding was reportedly cut after the group’s founder criticized Trump on Twitter.
Former government official John D. Cohen told The New York Times: “There is a very clear signal that the only threat this administration is interested in regarding violent extremism is the radical Islamic threat.”
The same Brennan study quoted earlier also reported that 85% of grants for countering violent extremists have explicitly targeted minority groups, including Muslims, immigrants, and refugees since Trump took office.
Trump has increased department spending at the DHS by 11% during his two years in office, making it harder for the office to work.
VICE does make it clear, however, that maybe if Trump spent more on stopping extremists in his own country and less on stopping marijuana in places it is already legal, then maybe incidents like one in Ohio wouldn’t happen so often.
A joint intelligence bulletin released by the F.B.I. and homeland security released in May and reported by Foreign Policy found that 49 homicides in 26 attacks over the past 16 years have been by white supremacists.
The figures are more than any other domestic extremist movement.
There have been more mass shootings than days this year, putting 2019 on pace to be the first year since 2016 where there has been an average of more than one mass shooting per day.
As of September 9, there have been 293 shootings in the USA according to the Gun Violence Archive.
A mass shooting is defined by the GVA as any incident in which at least four people were shot, excluding the shooter.
Several of the incidents have been high-profile, mass-casualty attacks, including 2 which occurred within 24 hours of each other.
A drive-by shooting at Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killed 22 and wounded 24 on August 3.
On August 4, 9 people were killed and 27 were injured in a shooting in a historic district of Dayton, Ohio.