DEA Laments that “Media Attention” is Making it Tough to Put People in Jail for Pot

Article by Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

In the Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual survey of the nation’s law enforcement agencies, heroin remained the top concern in 2016 — head-and-shoulders above all other illicit drugs — while marijuana was a drug of negligible concern. Only 4.9 percent of law enforcement respondents named it their most worrisome drug, down slightly from 6 percent last year.

Concern or not, marijuana remains illegal for all purposes under federal law, a policy the DEA emphatically reiterated this past summer. To that end, the DEA devoted 22 pages of its Drug Threat Assessment to pot — considerably more real estate than it devoted to, say, prescription painkillers (16 pages), which kill more than 14,000 people per year.

Many of those 22 pages on the idiosyncrasies of state-level medical and recreational marijuana laws, as well as marijuana use trends in legalization states and nationwide. Most of that information will be familiar to anyone who has been following the legalization story closely.

However, the DEA makes the interesting claim, not present in last year’s Threat Assessment, 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 about the legality and effects of marijuana use.

The report says: “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.”

Read full article here.

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