Medical marijuana raid fallout: What happens to all that confiscated pot?

Lately, local DEA agents have been getting their hands on significant amounts of weed, whether it's testing samples taken from inspections of marijuana-analysis labs or hundreds of live plants seized from a Highlands Ranch grow house last Friday, as well as from similar raids over the past month.

So what happens to all that dankity dank? Is the DEA, like local law enforcement, required to maintain the marijuana until it's been ruled in court not to be medicinal? Are the feds employing a very lucky pot farmer in some clandestine government grow house?

Not at all, says DEA spokesman Mike Turner. Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, he explains, it's contraband whether or not the weed in question is eventually determined to be kosher under state law. That means agents don't have to maintain it or reimburse people for what they've taken.

Turner says he doesn't envy local police departments, since their confiscation procedures for alleged medical marijuana aren't so cut and dried. He says he's heard of a case in Montana where a town had to hire someone to care for a warehouse full of live pot plants that police had discovered until the issue could be resolved in court.

On the other hand, according to Turner, all the DEA has to do with seized pot is analyze a small amount of it to verify it's marijuana, then get rid of the rest once an official destroy order has been obtained. Typically it's incinerated at very high temperatures, says the special agent.

That begs a question: Do the agents incinerating it experience the, um, "medicinal" effects of burning said contraband?

"I hope not," says Turner.

While he wouldn't say where the incineration take place, a source once told Westword that the DEA deals with evidence like this at a facility near Denver International Airport -- something Turner would neither confirm nor deny.

Who knows: Maybe that's what DIA's secret Masonic-alien underground base is for. Or maybe all that ganja is obliterated in the fiery belly of the evil blue demon horse.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner