Is the Pharmacy Industry against legalization of Marijuana

By old hippie 56 · Jul 11, 2008 · ·
  1. old hippie 56
    Interesting read.

    Posted in Chronicle Blog by Scott Morgan on Wed, 07/09/2008 - 8:48pm

    For most drug policy reformers, the answer is probably an exasperated "duh," but a fascinating piece at Huffington Post from NORML's Paul Armentano raises some very plausible doubts about the popular theory that the pharmaceutical industry is pushing pot prohibition to kill competition.

    I highly recommend reading the whole thing before forming an opinion, but here are the basic points as I understand them:

    1. Pharmaceutical companies are vigorously pursuing patents on various marijuana components and derivatives for a great variety of potential medical applications. Given the rigorous and heavily politicized FDA approval process they'll ultimately need to pass, there's no sense in indulging anti-marijuana hysteria within the government bureaucracy.

    2. These products will ultimately be marketed to a populace that has been spoon-fed mindless anti-pot propaganda for decades. Since the origins of the coming generation of marijuana-based medicines will be widely known, their manufacturers have an interest in marijuana being trusted, rather than feared, within the marketplace.

    3. Pharmaceutical companies understand that marijuana can never live up to its reputation as a panacea that can replace modern medicine. This is true because most people don't smoke it, and most people don’t want their medicines grown on a tree. Conditions in places where medical marijuana is currently widely available demonstrate this.

    4. Government bureaucrats, police and prison lobbies, and voters who've succumbed to drug war propaganda are the real forces behind marijuana prohibition.

    Paul also observes the important role marijuana reform efforts have played in fostering a climate in which marijuana-based medicines have become recognized as viable. Only by breaking down bit by bit the barrier of hysteria surrounding marijuana have we been able to set a tone in which medical marijuana research can be discussed rationally in the public domain. There are exceptions, of course, but now that the science and the will of the voters can speak for themselves, corporate profiteers associate marijuana with dollar signs, not reefer madness.

    It has also been proposed by some in the reform movement that pharmaceuticalized marijuana may lead to a crack down on the medical use of herbal marijuana, as corporate profiteers pressure police to purge their most obvious competitor. I reject that notion for a couple reasons: 1) the marketing of new marijuana-based medicines will have a trickle-down effect of politically legitimizing pre-existing medical marijuana activity. 2) We can't afford to bust 'em now, we won't be able to afford to bust 'em then. 3) The risk of jury nullification when bringing medical marijuana cases to trial is substantial and will remain so.

    Finally, though Paul doesn't address this, many people have cited instances of pharmaceutical companies supporting organizations like Partnership For a Drug Free America as evidence of their complicity in the war on marijuana. I've attempted to research this in the past and couldn't find anything worth our time. The story died on my desk. To the extent that pharmaceutical companies fund so-called "anti-drug" advocacy, I now believe it has nothing to do with marijuana, but rather with a desire to proactively cover their asses for the destructive effects of the legal drugs they themselves manufacture and market.

    So, I believe Paul's analysis should probably replace much of the conventional wisdom that currently exists on this issue. Unless other evidence emerges, or other experts of Paul Armentano's caliber (few exist), emerge to convincingly challenge his assertions, the burden of proof placed on those blaming Big Pharma for marijuana prohibition has been raised several notches today. If this helps us to refocus our advocacy towards other more demonstrable, palatable, and persuasive arguments for reform, that would be a good thing.

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  1. Burnt
    I think its quite a complicated issue to say the pharmacy is outright against or lobbying against the legalization of cannabis. the pharmaceutical industry is activily pursueing cannabinoid based medicines. the therapeutic uses of cannabinoids are numerous and drugs derived from them will begin to play more of a role in modern drug development.

    i think a number of issues are at stake. the pharm industry doesn't care if weed is illegal because they can still produce drugs derived from it. synthetic THC is already on the market and other cannabinoids will probably follow suit. CBD and drugs derived from it I think will be a hit if they can work out the kinks. the discorvery of the endogenous cannabinoid system is big in terms of developing new drug targets.

    they might however care if the plant was totally legal because then why would people obtain pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids (unless they were really sick and needed a very specific dose or were incapable of growing/obtaining trust worthy plant material) they would simply grow or obtain their own. so yes it can be seen as competition but its the same with all plant based drugs. there are so many effective medicines that come from plant based medicine yet most people in the west dont use them. they are also not regulated like prescription drugs which is both a good thing and a bad thing. good thing because you don't need a prescription to use them and get ripped off and because the government has no right to regulate them (or any drug but thats another story). bad thing is that most people dont know what consititutes a good plant based drug so people buy low quality plant material or preparations derived from them and they dont work and companies can get away with it. also the industry doesnt see the value in pursueing plant based medicine because its harder to patent and exploit unlike synthetic drugs or special preparations of pure compounds.
  2. Expat98
  3. Paracelsus
    Good to see someone take a serious look at this particular conspiracy theory.
    Not if they manage to produce safer and/or more effective treatments than herbal marijuana. Another thing that is probable to happen is that cannabinoid designer drugs will be developed and will be better at targeting specific illnesses (e.g. a better painkiller, a better antiemetic, a better antipsychotic, an antineoplastic agent, etc.).
  4. Burnt
    true and this is in progress. although there are many indications that the multiple ingredients in cannabis herb as a whole play a role in its therapeutic effects and that when separate lead to greater side effects. regardless if a cheap plant you grow works the newer drugs better be way better and have less side effects and avoid the dangers of smoking to be successful. so far many companies have failed at this. patients consistently report they like the marijauna plant better then marinol. GW pharmaceuticals was a company who was making a cannabis extract oral spray medicine which essentially failed clinical trials (idiots though i bet no one in that damn company tried there stupid product and noticed hey wait a second this stuff sucks it barely works and saved millions in now lost investment). anyway... im sure some good synthetic drugs that target cannabinoid receptors will eventually hit the market.

    on a side note talking about drug discovery the route of administration is complex with cannabinoids because they are so insoluble. the metabolism of THC for example is quite different when its smoking and enters the blood faster as opposed to when its ingested orally. these things all play a role in the overall effect of the drug. for example when ingested orally more of a specific metabolite of THC (the main one i forget 11hydroxy THC maybe?) is formed and this compound has also been reported to be more psychoactive then THC which may explain why your can bug out harder when you eat brownies. anyway cannabinoids are a fascinating group of compounds and the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors is exciting for drug discovery.

    and the government is full of shit when they say marijauna has no accepted medical value. they can go fuck themselves.
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