The results of a recently filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request have revealed that a high-ranking DEA agent lied about stoned rabbits during a Senate hearing on medical marijuana.
In February 2015, DEA special agent Matt Fairbanks provided what was supposed to be expert testimony at a Utah State Senate hearing about Senate Bill 259, which proposed legalizing cannabis for medicinal uses.
Fairbanks’s testimony focused primarily on describing the ecological devastation created by marijuana grow sites that he’d witnessed in his work with the DEA.
After telling lawmakers that “I come to represent the actual science,” Fairbanks’s statement took an unexpected turn when he began describing the adverse effects cannabis cultivation has on wildlife, and in particular, on rabbits.
“The deforestation has left marijuana grows with even rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana, where one of them refused to leave us,” he said.
“We took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone.”
After hearing Fairbanks’s testimony, the folks at MuckRock were curious if his claims about addicted and stoned rabbits had any bearing on reality.
So they filed an FOIA request asking for “any and all reports, memos, notes, communications, or other materials related to the relationships between rabbits and marijuana, and the effects of marijuana on rabbits, and the consequences of marijuana legalization on rabbits or other animal populations.”
When they finally heard back from officials, it turns out there are absolutely no records indicating that marijuana grows had any impact on rabbit populations.
“After reviewing your request as constituted,” the official response to the FOIA request said, “we tasked the DEA Denver Division to gather any information responsive to the above subject.”
“As a result of the Denver Division’s search no responsive records were located.”
It seems that Fairbanks’s testimony wasn’t backed by any concrete evidence.
Given that Fairbanks is a key member of the DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Task Force, which is tasked with seeking out and destroying illegal cannabis grow operations, many have become suspicious of his motives for making the statement.
The Cannabis Eradication Task Force has come under pressure recently, as a group of lawmakers from around the country has begun calling to defund the project.