Weeding out the truth: No substance to DEA’s claims of pot-crazed bunnies

Are rabbits in the grips of reefer madness ravaging the Utah countryside? No, they are not.

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

What’s the difference between a stoned rabbit and a not-stoned rabbit? The layhuman may not be keen to the symptoms, subtle as they are, exhibited by indoor varieties, but an expert in the wild - he can tell.

These are bunnies. But are they high bunnies?

Such was the effect in the Utah State Senate last March, when Drug Enforcement Administration agent and canna-buzzed rabbit connoisseur Matt Fairbanks offered his testimony to Senate Bill 259, a medical cannabis bill.

“The deforestation has left marijuana grows with even rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana,” Fairbanks warned, “where one of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone.”

It’s easy to sympathize with the disbelief the rabbit must have experienced in that situation. Ganja aficionados easily latched on to the bit as yet another federal fear-mongering tactic against growing widespread acceptance. For one, the bill originated with Republican Utah State Senator Mark Madsen, who introduced the bill after his own experience using cannabis instead of prescription opioids for ongoing back problems.

In this clash between state and federal views of marijuana legalization, the DEA often serves as the mouthpiece of the government’s interests. Or, as Agent Fairbanks put it, “‘I come to represent the actual science.”

Inspired by his insistence on facts and science, MuckRock filed a FOIA shortly after the hearing. Were there any of these facts and science to support concerns that Utah’s new post-legalization weedscape would be overrun by high rabbits?

A couple of months later, the DEA responded: no.

No. Of course.

It’s important to note that Fairbanks is part of the Cannabis Eradication Task Force, which receives funds for cannabis removal efforts in states across the country. Each new legalization and more thoughtful and appropriate removals makes the need to finance drug prevention-by-elimination just that much less pressing.

For example, in Utah, where Agent Fairbanks had been an agent for ten years, they reported no eradicated grow sites for 2014, the last year reported before Agent Fairbanks’s testimony.

In 2013, they list 4,424 outdoor plants from 2 sites removed, down from 2010 when they removed over 100,000.

New requests have been sent to the Environmental Protection Agency and the DEA to follow up on concerns that marijuana-inspired deforestation and pesticides have had a detrimental environmental effect.

There are certainly legitimate considerations for integrating formal weed into society.

They’re just a little hard to hear when the DEA’s arguments sound as half-baked as the bunnies they’ve met. “

Read DEA’s no responsive documents letter embedded below, or on the request page.


Image by Tiia Monto via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0