Do you ever hear a news story about law enforcement seizing hundreds of pounds of marijuana, or discovering an entire field of it, and wonder what on earth they do with it all? Does it get stored in a massive evidence locker somewhere? It’s a fairly common storyline in police procedurals, after all. The cops seize a bunch of drugs, and either the kingpin or some hapless dealer who’s about to find himself at the bottom of the ocean if he doesn’t retrieve them sets out to get them back by whatever means necessary. It really depends on the circumstances what happens to these drugs, and of course the rules vary between states and the federal government.
If a drug bust was part of an important case or a serious crime, the evidence will be stored for a number of years, because it might be needed during prosecution, and it probably won’t be destroyed before any possible avenues for appeal are exhausted. For a lesser amount of drugs or a smaller crime, the drugs might either be disposed of or kept. Police will keep drugs for training purposes, such as teaching drug dogs how to recognize and find them. Police officers need to be trained in what marijuana looks and smells like, as well. They might also be used for operations like drug stings, where an undercover officer would pose as a drug dealer and catch the person trying to buy from them.
If the drugs are stored, they’re carefully monitored, particularly whenever some are taken out and returned. They’ll be weighed when they’re signed out and weighed when they’re signed back in, to make sure an officer hasn’t taken any.
If drugs aren’t needed for training or operational purposes and are no longer required for a court case, they will be destroyed. A judge must first issue a destruction order. Whatever agency has seized the drug most likely conducts bi-annual evidence destructions, and when the time comes all the drug evidence will be destroyed in a large furnace.
In the case of an entire field of marijuana, law enforcement will actually bury the plants in a hole and cover them with dirt. (Some samples may be taken for evidence.) Once they’re no longer getting light or air, they’ll begin to die. Once all of the marijuana is dead and dried, then officials will burn it.
Here’s an interesting idea from Germany – confiscated marijuana is quite literally fueling their economy. Customs officials in Munich had a thousand pounds of weed that they were looking for a way to dispose of, and instead of just incinerating it, they took it to a power plant. The marijuana was used to produce heat and electricity for local residents.
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