Local and state law enforcement nationwide sees weed as the least of its drug worries, a report from the Drug Enforcement Administration found -- even as the DEA itself sees marijuana as a "growing concern."
As part of the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, the DEA asked a sample of over 1,100 local and state law enforcement agencies what they perceived as their biggest drug threat. For the fifth year in a row, marijuana was ranked as the least of officers' worries. Only 6 percent of respondents reported weed as the largest threat -- the lowest portion since 2007.
Heroin has skyrocketed as a perceived threat over the same period and now tops the charts, with 38 percent reporting it as the worst problem. The threat of painkillers has subsided over the past two years.
The numbers aren't surprising, given that states and local jurisdictions have begun to decriminalize and legalize marijuana for an American public that views the plant as less harmful than alcohol.
It appears that the only body that hasn't hopped on the cannabis train is the federal government. The DEA continues to raid medical dispensaries that are legal on the state level, even though its own report shows that police don't find marijuana to be a significant driver of crime.
While seizures of marijuana by the DEA are on the decline, the federal government still pumped $18 million into the eradication of marijuana plants in 2014 and millions more into seizure operations, according to The Washington Post.
On Wednesday, DEA head Chuck Rosenberg called marijuana "dangerous" and argued that using it as medicine is a "joke."
"What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal -- because it's not," Rosenberg said, according to CBS. "We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don't call it medicine -- that is a joke."
The DEA report did find that marijuana's use and potency are on the rise; it called marijuana concentrates a "growing concern." However, of the "120 people who die as a result of a drug overdose" each day, exactly zero die from marijuana, it found.
The DEA worries that state legalization of marijuana and shifting enforcement toward other drugs will allow criminal organizations to move more freely nationwide, the report said:
Marijuana will remain abundant in the United States; use will remain high and will increase as perceptions of the drug’s harmfulness diminish. State legalization, and the shifting of law enforcement priorities in many localities, will allow small-scale domestic criminal organizations to cultivate and traffic marijuana with more freedom than in the past.
The report comes on the heels of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) introduction of a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition. The bill would remove marijuana from the DEA's list of the most dangerous drugs, making it no longer subject to the Controlled Substances Act. It would give states full discretion over recreational use laws without federal intervention.
Read the full report: