Philly420: The DEA's stoner rabbits

Wild rabbit
Are this rabbit's pupils dilated? (iStock)

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a new tactic to fight marijuana legalization: baked bunnies. 

Over the last century of cannabis prohibition there have been many over-the-top fantasies put forth to deter the nation from the non-lethal plant. Pennsylvania native Harry Anglinger, the first "drug czar" appointed in the 1930's, suggested that marijuana turned chaste women into sex fiends and that smoking weed transformed otherwise happy go-lucky guys into violent murderers. In modern times we have seen claims of brain structure changes and lower IQ completely debunked.

But recent testimony by DEA special agent Matt Fairbanks in Utah takes drug warrior absurdity to a new level. 

Fairbanks is part of a marijuana eradication squad that goes up into the mountains to find illegal outdoor cannabis gardens. The Washington Post Wonkblog reported his comments that were made in a committee hearing before the Utah state Senate: 

Fairbanks said that at some illegal marijuana grow sites he saw "rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana. ..." He continued: "One of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone." 

What makes those comments even more bizarre is that the DEA agent made them in opposition to a medical marijuana bill. 

In states that have enacted medical cannabis laws the plants are tightly regulated and are grown indoors. Moreover, the DEA's concern over the illicit cultivation on public land actually helps the case for legalization. In a fully regulated market there would be farms enough to supply consumers ensuring that state and federal parkland (along with all the rabbits on it) are no longer attractive for cannabis cultivation.

Pot is now legal in four states and the District of Columbia. The sky remains above them. The transition is going smoothly, even in the nation's capitol. This was demonstrated this week when the DC Metro Police returned some confiscated marijuana; no harm, no foul. 

Out in Colorado there were 17 tons of legal cannabis sold last year and brought in $76 million in taxes. 

The Wonkblog also reported yesterday that for the first time in history a clear majority of the country support ending criminal prohibition. The premier poll of the American public, the General Social Survey, found that 52% favor legal weed. 

This may have Harry Anslinger turning over in his grave in Hollidaysburg

But it would thrill former Pa. Governor Raymond P. Shafer who, in 1972, tried on convince President Nixon that marijuana never should have been put in the Controlled Substances Act at all. 

As popular opinion about marijuana shifts, the DEA  is reduced to grasping at straws - or bunnies - to make their case. 

Chris Goldstein is associate editor of Freedom Leaf magazine and co-chair of PhillyNorml. Contact him at