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National Org. for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) v. U.S. Drug Enforcement Admin.

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20063
Nos. No. 82-2107, 545 F. Supp. 981/(D.D.C., 08/17/1982)

The court refuses to enjoin the government defendants from spraying marijuana crops in Florida with paraquat, finding no violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The court clarifies first that the suit, which seeks prospective equitable and not retrospective monetary relief, is not barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The court holds that the spraying program lacks sufficient federal funding and control to constitute a major federal action that requires the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA. While the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has provided the impetus behind the program, as well as technical assistance and funding for aerial surveillance used to locate marijuana fields, this involvement is not of the magnitude required for a major federal action. The court finds that the program is a state action because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement alone will pay for the eradication program and will choose the eradication method and sites. Furthermore, an EIS is not required because the program will not have a significant effect on the human environment. The court finds that the health effects associated with smoking or ingesting marijuana sprayed with paraquat will be avoided because the state agency will spray the crops manually and guard the fields to ensure that the marijuana is not harvested and marketed. Finally, the court rejects the plaintiff's claim that the spraying program will violate FIFRA. The Environmental Protection Agency has registered paraquat for use on broadleaf weeds such as marijuana and has established work safety rules for the use of paraquat in marijuana eradication.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Kevin Zeese, George Farnham
2035 P St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 331-7363

Counsel for Defendant
James T. Draude
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-3796