The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is looking for an Arizona contractor to incinerate marijuana at a rate of 1,000 pounds an hour between March and September, according to a newly issued contracting notice from the DEA’s Houston Division.
Put another way, 16,000 ounces of bud will be going up in smoke every 60 minutes, which is 32,000 half ounces; 64,000 quarters; 128,000 eighths; or the equivalent of about 896,000 half-gram joints. The weed will be transported from 12 cities in Texas to an incinerator in Tucson.
Most of the marijuana will be in the form of “tightly compressed ‘bricks’ or ‘bales,’ typically weighing between 40 and 60 pounds. Packaging will include, among other things, cardboard; Saran Wrap; aluminum foil; duct, scotch, and packing tape; plastic evidence bags and wrapping paper (!). The DEA did not respond to a request for further details.
“The integrity of the destruction process shall be such that the material to be destroyed cannot be redirected or retrieved once it is committed to destruction,” the DEA notice says. The pot must be destroyed “to a point where there are no detectable levels, as measured by standard analytical methods, of byproduct from the destruction process. DEA shall inspect the incinerator to ensure no drug residue remains.”
There will be DEA personnel present at each burn, as well as closed circuit cameras at the facility recording every step of the process. The DEA “reserves the right to access the video feed as necessary to ensure the proper destruction of its drugs and safety of its representatives.”
The agency requires that the location have a fence tall enough to prevent onlookers from watching the burn process, and that all employees involved undergo a background check and yearly drug tests.
The DEA already has a contractor in mind, according to the agency: as the notice says, “This is anticipated to be a sole source award to Tucson Iron & Metal,” which is the only vendor in close enough proximity to the Texas towns of McAllen, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and Eagle Pass, where the confiscated cannabis is presumably stored.
Similarly, the Atlanta field office of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is looking for an incinerator capable of burning between 1,500 and 5,000 pounds of drugs at a time, eight to 12 times a year, according to a recently issued solicitation. The menu will be slightly more varied, including marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, steroids, opiates, and khat.
Cocaine, heroin, and meth burns must reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered fully destroyed, says the CBP tender. The others only need to reach 1,500 degrees, it advises.
Although marijuana has been legalized in one form or another in 33 states and Washington, DC, it is still illegal under federal law.
Read the full text of the DEA contracting notice here: