An interesting thing happens when you remove the criminal penalties associated with the victimless “crime” of consuming or possessing a plant. Those who do so are no longer jailed or arrested for such actions. There always exists, however, a vocal minority of the prohibitionist-minded that will do anything they can to hold on to the vestiges of antiquated policies. Take a wild guess as to who that might be. You got it, the people whose jobs rely largely on the continued illegality of cannabis – namely DEA agents and police unions. In their 2016 Drug Threat Assessment survey, the DEA displayed this mindset once again.
The Drug Threat Assessment is an annual report that is supposed to provide insight and guidance on how black market drug usage and sales impact U.S. states. Of course, there is little to no mention of the biggest and most destructive harm of drug use – criminalizing what citizens decide to put into his or her own body.
In the survey report, the DEA cites “media attention” as one of the main reasons why enforcing federal cannabis prohibition laws is becoming increasingly difficult. The report also seems to blame the media for debunking age-old prohibitionist myths and misleading information about the laws and consequences of cannabis use.
To be fair, the survey actually does put a great deal of focus on the opioid epidemic, which claimed the lives of an estimated 20,000 Americans in 2015 alone. The report says that drug overdoses are now reportedly the leading cause of injury death in the country, killing an average of 129 people per day. More people use prescription drugs than “cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined.”
DEA acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg says the opioid addiction epidemic is “a public health crisis of historic proportions”, but the agency makes little or no attempt to connect the dots as to the reasons why this might be. One of the reasons for this, of course, is due to the prohibition of cannabis medicine.
The report reviews specific statistics surrounding cannabis use in the U.S. – such as usage rates, legal cannabis markets, production of the plant, etc. Naturally, they appear to make no statement as to how many jobs have been created through the legal cannabis industry, how many lives have been saved with cannabis, or even the amount of tax dollars various governments have raked in as a result of legalization.
While the report begrudgingly admits the failure of prohibitionist policies and the drug war, it blames the media and nationwide medical cannabis initiatives for the lack of reduction in cannabis use. The report does not specify which media outlets they’re referring to, and provides no evidence to back up such claims.
The report says the DEA is “supportive of the further research and testing of medical marijuana.” This is an obvious contradiction and conflict of interest, highlighting once again the absurdity of the drug war and specifically, cannabis prohibition.