Painkiller-producing drug companies have been paying top, scientific researchers to compile and publish skewed findings that overemphasize the dangers of marijuana, Vice Reported. But should that come as any surprise? Drug companies are powerful and ridiculously rich entities that will stoop to any low level to protect profits.

According to Lee Fang, leading companies Purdue Pharma (Oxycontin), Reckitt Benckiser (Nurofen), and Alkermes (Zohydro) are among the main culprits. Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University is a well-known and highly regarding medical researcher who has produced anti-marijuana opinions for many news outlets, and he is paid by these companies to do so.

As medical marijuana support gains traction in America, drug companies have become very concerned for their profits as a surge of research has shown that marijuana is a much safer alternative to addictive and deadly, synthetic painkillers. Fang reported that painkillers kill 16,000 people a year while there has yet to be a single reported, official or unofficial, marijuana overdose.

Dr. A. Eden Evins is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, staunch critic of marijuana, and also paid by the drug companies. Her opinions on marijuana have been misguided by Big Pharma’s payouts. “When people can go to a ‘clinic’ or ‘cafe’ and buy pot, that creates the perception that it’s safe,” said Evins. However, she neglects to mention the hundreds, maybe thousands, of “pain clinics” spread across the country that give easy access to deadly painkillers.

Employing a handful of doctors, would-be patients could walk-in without an appointment and see a doctor with any supposed symptom or ailment; back pain, toothaches, depression, boredom, unemployment, and walk out with a prescription for synthetic, opioid painkillers.

As Fang noted, drug companies that produce these deadly medicines have remained as silent partners and financial contributors, Purdue and Alkermes being among the top funders for anti-marijuana initiatives. Recent studies have illustrated the impact that legalized, medical marijuana has had opioid use.

JAMA Internal Medicine published a study this week stating that states with legalized, medical marijuana have enjoyed a 25 percent decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths. Patients, who would otherwise be taking painkillers for their ailments, have turned to medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.

According to countless studies, medical marijuana relieves the same symptoms as painkillers with the same effectiveness without the harmful, and sometimes deadly, side effects.

Snowballing support and recent studies that are increasingly showing the benefits of medical marijuana are sure to be making the drug companies nervous. Marijuana has been proven numerous times to provide better, safer relief for ailments including: pain, depression, anxiety, nausea, loss of appetite, and many more. The drug companies seem to be fighting a losing battle, and in this case, public opinion has been beating about Big Pharma’s dollars.

Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.