What happens to weed that gets seized by the cops?

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Cannabis seizures are unlikely to inspire too many positive thoughts in the minds of weed enthusiasts, but Thailand’s decision to use almost 22 tonnes of confiscated weed to help advance related medical research isn’t likely to be met with protests among too many stoners.

The Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) in Thailand is divvying up a massive haul of cannabis to the benefit of 11 medical institutes and research facilities registered to use marijuana for research purposes, according to the Bankok Post.

Big winners in the cannabis lottery were the College of Pharmacy at Rangsit University, which was gifted 500 kilograms, and the Department of Medical Science, which received about 100 kilograms.

Although no cannabis was gifted in this U.K. case last year, the discovery of an illicit grow-op and seizure of drug-making equipment benefited animals at the Blackpool Zoo near Lancashire. After law enforcement confiscated almost £20,000 in drug-related equipment such as lamps, thermometers and heaters from a cannabis farm, they donated it to the zoo to help keep the animals nice and cozy.

But not all cannabis gets a second life. In Canada, the Cannabis Act allows for seizing any cannabis, things that contain or conceal cannabis and any offence-related property that a peace officer believes on reasonable grounds contravenes the act. Once seized by law enforcement, illicit drugs must be destroyed.

Options for destroying cannabis include shredding and mixing with water and an organic material, breaking it down before composting and burning. / Photo: Postmedia file Postmedia file

There are a few ways of getting that done, Health Canada told the National Post last year. There’s shredding and mixing with water and an organic material like kitty litter, breaking it down before composting and disposing, or flat-out burning (precautions must be in place to prevent smoke exposure). The point is to render the product unusable and unsalvageable, explained cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser, at the time.

Burning is big south of the border. Last year, the Drug and Enforcement Administration (DEA) was on the hunt for a contractor in Arizona to incinerate a whole lot of weed that had been seized in Texas. The contracting notice estimated about 1,000 pounds of marijuana an hour would need to be incinerated between March and September, according to Quartz.

DEA personnel (plus cameras) would be on hand for the burns, the area would need to be fenced to prevent onlookers from seeing what was going on, workers would need to undergo background checks and drug tests, and the incinerator would have to be checked for any residue afterward.

FILE: Security at 48 North’s Brantford Good:Farm location, Friday Sept. 27, 2019. / Photo: Peter J Thompson

In Canada, exactly when “eradication” occurs depends on when the judicial procedure has been completed. Until that process is done, illicit drugs must be stored in a secured facility.

For especially large seizures — or if a facility cannot provide required safeguards — law enforcement would apply to Health Canada to perform an emergency eradication.

As for who does the eradicating, that’s up to law enforcement after they’ve received Health Canada’s thumbs-up.

FILE: A cannabis plant approaching maturity is photographed in Fenwick, Ont., on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. / Photo: The Canadian Press The Canadian Press

In B.C., the Community Safety Unit (CSU) branch of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General doesn’t discuss how it processes or stores seized weed. That said, “the director has the authority to immediately destroy cannabis seized under the director’s regulatory authority,” according to Victoria News.

And there’s plenty of seizing going on. The Canada Border Services Agency reports that in fiscal 2019-2020, the agency seized about 4,322 kilograms of cannabis products. That was considerably more than the next most confiscated drug, cocaine/crack at almost 1,305 kilograms.

South of the border, last year the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program “was responsible for the eradication of 3,232,722 cultivated outdoor cannabis plants and 770,472 indoor plants for a total of 4,003,194 marijuana plants.” Additionally, it “accounted for 4,718 arrests and the seizure in excess of 29.0 million dollars of cultivator assets.”

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