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Washington, D.C. - The federal government has once again revealed itself as nothing more than puppets to the big pharma industry. On Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved to deny any changes to marijuana under its federal drug schedule, keeping the drug in the most restrictive category for U.S. law enforcement purposes.

For decades the pharmaceutical industry has poured millions into the pockets of corrupt politicians as they lobbied to keep cannabis illegal. As the Free Thought Project reported last month, a new study from the University of Georgia shows exactly why all that money was spent. Legal marijuana destroys big pharma's profits.

The study examined the costs of Medicare's prescription drug benefit program in 2013, a year when only 17 states and the District of Columbia had legalized medicinal marijuana. They found that legal pot contributed to a savings of $165.2 million in prescription costs. Researchers at the University of Georgia used those number to determine a savings in the hundreds of millions if all states would legalize medical cannabis.

Now it makes perfect sense why the DEA would maintain this asinine classification.

Under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the cannabis plant and its organic cannabinoids are classified as Schedule I prohibited substances — the most restrictive category available under the law. By definition, substances in this category must meet three specific inclusion criteria:

To be considered a Schedule I substance, the drug must possess “a high potential for abuse”; it must have “no currently accepted medical use” in the United States; and, the substance must lack “accepted safety for use … under medical supervision.”

DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg claims the agency’s decision is rooted in science, and that he gave "enormous weight" to conclusions by the Food and Drug Administration that marijuana has "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

In a statement that flies in the face of reality for thousands of people currently treating a wide range of medical ailments with cannabis and cannabis derivatives, Rosenberg said, "This decision isn't based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine," he said, "and it's not."

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Marijuana is absurdly classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, alongside hard drugs such as heroin, while other, much more highly addictive substances – including oxycodone and methamphetamine – are considered to have medical use and regulated differently under Schedule II of the law.

Adding to the absurdity, overdose deaths from prescription pain medications have now overtaken street drugs such as cocaine, heroin and meth as the leading pharmaceutical killer of Americans, while marijuana has NEVER resulted in an overdose death in history. To give some perspective, both alcohol and tobacco, two substances widely acknowledged to possess far greater dangers to health than cannabis does, and without any medicinal value, are not classified under the Controlled Substances Act.

"It's really sad that DEA has chosen to continue decades of ignoring the voices of patients who benefit from medical marijuana," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, in a press release. " President Obama always said he would let science—and not ideology—dictate policy, but in this case his administration is upholding a failed drug war approach instead of looking at real, existing evidence that marijuana has medical value."

Most Americans support legalization, Angell wrote, and the federal government should at a minimum leave regulatory decisions to the states.

A recent review of FDA-approved clinical studies on the National Institute of Health website evaluated the safety and efficacy of herbal cannabis and completely refuted the contention by Rosenberg that cannabis has no medicinal value, concluding: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that Information on safety is lacking.”

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano released a statement regarding the DEA’s ill-advised decision stating:

For far too long, federal regulations have made clinical investigations involving cannabis needlessly onerous and have placed unnecessary and arbitrary restrictions on marijuana that do not exist for other controlled substances, including some other schedule I controlled substances.

While this announcement is a significant step toward better facilitating and expanding clinical investigations into cannabis’ therapeutic efficacy, ample scientific evidence already exists to remove cannabis from its schedule I classification and to acknowledge its relative safety compared to other scheduled substances, like opioids, and unscheduled substances, such as alcohol. Ultimately, the federal government ought to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act altogether in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco, thus providing states the power to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal intrusion.

Since the DEA has failed to take such action, then it is incumbent that members of Congress act swiftly to amend cannabis’ criminal status in a way that comports with both public and scientific opinion. Failure to do so continues the federal government’s ‘Flat Earth’ position; it willfully ignores the well-established therapeutic properties associated with the plant and it ignores the laws in 26 states recognizing marijuana’s therapeutic efficacy.

“The DEA’s decision is strictly a political one. There is nothing scientific about willful ignorance,” Armentano said.

Make no mistake that the DEA’s decision is purely based in big money politics and has virtually nothing to do with safety or science. The agency’s current position, that marijuana has no medicinal value, is akin to the medieval church refusing to accept the “new science” that revealed the earth to be round.

And this folks, is what happens when you put a paramilitary organization in charge of determining whether the object of its existence should be legalized. Of course the DEA says cannabis should remain illegal, as the agency would lose a significant amount of funding and its fake ‘War on Drugs’ would begin to be revealed as just another fleecing of American citizens.

One bright spot is the fact that by the DEA making such absurd public proclamations, such as this, it helps awaken people to the vast disconnect between what they already know to be true, and what the agency claims is reality. Consequently, the DEA only serves to marginalize its own message as people begin to more clearly understand that the agency simply cannot be trusted as they have a vested interest in keeping cannabis illegal.