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As The Free Thought Project has faithfully reported, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of the United States government, hasn’t softened its position nor its stand against marijuana, and this summer attempted to classify yet another plant, Kratom, as a Schedule I narcotic. While a majority of the rest of the states (29 at last count) have embraced and legalized marijuana as a safer alternative to prescription pain medicines (opiates), and antiepileptics, the DEA is still moving in the opposite direction.

In its 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary (NDTSA), the DEA, according to the Washington Post, “devoted 22 pages of its Drug Threat Assessment to pot.” Yet, while heroin and opiates now account for more overdose deaths than car accidents, the NDTSA only covered 16 pages concerning prescription pain killers which kill 14,000 annually.

According to the WP, what is present in the 2016 version of the NDTSA, which wasn’t found in the 2015 issue, is that the DEA blames “media attention” for making it more difficult to get convictions for marijuana related offenses. The WP writes, “that ‘media attention’ to marijuana issues is making it more difficult to enforce marijuana laws and prosecute people who violate them. The agency also appears to blame the media for spreading inaccurate information (fake news) about the legality and effects of marijuana use.”

It seems as though the DEA isn’t reading the anecdotal information being reported about cannabis, is ignoring published studies regarding marijuana, and is oblivious to the awakening that’s occurring all throughout the United States with respect to weed. Apparently desiring to hold on to fabled “reefer madness” stereotypes, the agency wrote a scathing criticism for states who’ve passed medical marijuana laws;

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Many states have passed laws allowing the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana within their respective states. Due to these varying state laws, as well as an abundance of media attention surrounding claims of possible medical benefits, the general public has been introduced to contradictory and often inaccurate information regarding the legality and benefits of marijuana use. This has made enforcement and prosecution for marijuana-related offenses more difficult, especially in states that have approved marijuana legalization.

As The Free Thought Project recently reported, myths about marijuana have been debunked, and Americans are waking up to the reality of what much of the developed world already knows, there’s many more benefits to marijuana than there are reasons to criminalize it. All across the country, folks who've suffered from PTSD, intractable epilepsy, chronic pain, attention problems, and various other qualifying conditions, have found relief with marijuana.

Why the DEA continues to target marijuana is anyone’s guess, but it could have something to do with the prison industrial complex, and the influence by big pharma. As long as marijuana is illegal, there will continue to be many millions of inmates housed in the prison industrial complex. According to Global Research, “The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people.” And locking people up is a lucrative business, bringing in billions of dollars of revenue from cheap $2 an hour labor prisoners make serving the, “U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores,” who’ve reportedly all profited from prison laborers.

According to the Extract, from the Sun Times, five more industries also profit from marijuana remaining illegal. Big Pharma tops the list and stands to lose market share of prescription drugs sold in the U.S. if weed is legal in all 50 states. Following Big Pharma are the police unions who rake in millions in police confiscations, asset forfeitures, confiscated cash, and federal grants to fight marijuana related crime. Third on the list are private prison corporations. According to the report, the “two largest private prison operators, Corrections Corporation of America and GEO,” spent over 1.5 billion dollars lobbying against reduced incarceration time, in an attempt to maximize their profits. Fourth are the prison guard unions, which have given over $1 million in California alone, lobbying against, “reduced parole sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders,” and, “drug treatment and rehabilitation programs as an alternative to incarceration.” Last but certainly not least are the alcohol and beer corporations, which have been actively lobbying against the legalization of marijuana, all in an effort to keep more people turning up the bottle instead of lighting up a joint, something which is by far safer than alcohol consumption.

What should be unlawful, is lobbying of the DEA. Why any corporation or entity is allowed to lobby the DEA, in an effort to influence its enforcement policies, is baffling. The agency is an enforcement agency, not a legislative one, yet a quick check of OpenSecrets documentation of lobbying done at the DEA reveals quite a few disturbing facts. Of the 21 public and private corporations which have lobbied the DEA, 14 are of a medical or pharmaceutical nature, 2 are public (U.S. States), 3 are related to Hemp production, one is with fish and wildlife, and the last is the Boys and Girls Club of America. Looking at the least of lobbyists, one could easily conclude the DEA’s drug enforcement policies are heavily influenced, monetarily, by Big Pharma, and those who work with her. No wonder the fight to legalize marijuana has been an uphill battle!