While a recent study finds that a majority of physicians in the US would prescribe medical marijuana to their patients, politics in the United States continue to prevent research on the short and long-term effects of marijuana in clinical settings. Due to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana was placed in the most restrictive use category, Schedule I, which classifies it as a drug with no medicinal value and high potential for abuse.

That means that marijuana (cannabis) is classified as being potentially more harmful and addictive, and having less medicinal value than cocaine, meth, methadone, OxyContin, and countless other prescription drugs that often have far more harmful effects than beneficial ones. This classification still stands, despite the fact that statistics show pharmaceuticals kill far more Americans than illegal drugs.

The issue has become so severe that two years ago, the US government created an action plan, Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis, to address the problem. Yet Americans continue to be inundated with prescription drugs for anything that ails them, and the FDA approves these drugs despite dangerous and sometimes deadly side effects.

In a vicious cycle that benefits the consumer least of all, corporate pharmaceutical criminals, who are in bed with the regulating industry, push dangerous products onto the market, and make obscene profits, while medical marijuana is classified as one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs in existence. This classification in turn makes it difficult for scientists to even study marijuana’s potential benefits, allowing opponents of the drug to continue to tout the mantra that there is insufficient research to meet FDA standards.

Although it is encouraging that 18 states and the District of Columbia now allow the use of medical marijuana in certain cases, scientists have a difficult time studying the drug due to federal laws that make it difficult to obtain legal supplies. In order to get a legal supply for study, researchers must obtain a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a difficult process that often ends in rejection.

In 2008, the American College of Physicians noted that “Unfortunately, research expansion has been hindered by a complicated federal approval process, limited availability of research-grade marijuana, and the debate over legalization.”

Marijuana has been used for its beneficial medicinal purposes for centuries. But many Americans still prefer to demonize the drug, probably while consuming prescription pills. In the meantime, the DEA keeps medical marijuana research tied up, and pharmaceutical giants continue putting profit over human lives. As Mercola reports, “Fraud, kickbacks, price-setting, bribery and illegal sales activities are all par for the course for big-name drug companies.”

According to Mike Papantonio, host of Ring of Fire, “Legalizing medical marijuana has become such an off-limits discussion that there is an endless effort by the government to prohibit states from sustaining their own medical marijuana programs, while the Mercks and Pfizers and Glaxos are drugging America into oblivion with legal drugs that leave Americans addicted, dead, or crippled by the tens of thousands.”

Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.