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Manufacturer of Highly Dangerous Opioid Drug Fighting (and Paying) to Keep Marijuana Illegal

One sad fact about elections and political movements- they are expensive, and the costs seem to increase each year. As more and more states realize there is a medical benefit to marijuana and it is ridiculous to have it on the list of Schedule I drugs along with substances like heroin, more states are moving to legalize medical marijuana. Additionally, as more and more states realize what a complete waste of taxpayer money and government resources it is to have police arresting marijuana users and sellers and have prosecutors bring criminal cases against them, more states are seeking to legalize marijuana completely.

Marijuana legalization efforts are finding their ways on ballots all over the country. As a result, there are campaigns for and against marijuana legalization. Any such campaign needs to be well financed for success. Do you know one of the primary groups funding the effort to keep marijuana illegal and to keep taxpayer money going towards the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of marijuana users and sellers? Not surprisingly, it is the pharmaceutical industry. The reason is obvious. When people decide to treat their pain, anxiety, seizures, depression, PTSD and many other afflictions naturally with marijuana, they are not paying the exorbitant prices required to treat those same medical problems with synthetic drugs. And that results in less profit for pharmaceutical companies.

According to a new study published in HealthAffairs, in the seventeen states that have authorized medical marijuana as of 2013, fewer prescriptions for synthetic painkillers and other drugs were written. For instance, the average doctor in those states prescribed 265 fewer doses of anti-depressants, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication and 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers each year. A more thorough summary of the results of the study can be found in this Washington Post article.

Arizona will be voting on a marijuana legalization measure this November that would allow people at least 21 years old to use marijuana. Medical marijuana is already legal in Arizona. Insys Therapeutics, Inc., which is headquartered in Arizona, just spent $500,000 to fight the marijuana legalization efforts in Arizona. Who is Insys Therapeutics? Insys is a pharmaceutical company whose primary product is a fentanyl spray. Despite fentanyl being its sole marketed product, the company’s net revenue for 2015 was $330.8 million. They sold a lot of fentanyl in 2015, which was a lot more than they sold in 2014 based on their increased revenues.

So we have a large pharmaceutical company paying, and some political group accepting, a significant sum of money to keep marijuana illegal so that the company can continue to sell more fentanyl. Is this fentanyl product safer than marijuana? Fentanyl is a very strong, addictive opioid pain medication. It is considered about a hundred times stronger than Morphine and heroin that one might buy off of the street. The list of side effects for fentanyl is long. Most concerning, hundreds of people die each year from overdosing on fentanyl, which would be hundreds more than have died from a marijuana overdose. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a statement in 2015 warning people about the dangers of overdosing from fentanyl. The DEA considered the abuse of fentanyl to be “a significant threat to public health and safety.”

In fact, some police officers in the United States and Canada carry a fentanyl overdose antidote (called naloxone) with them at all times to assist people who have overdosed on fentanyl or for themselves if they come in contact with the fentanyl spray, which can be deadly as well. A quick Google search of police officers and fentanyl will yield several different articles about police officers on drug raids needing medical treatment due to airborne exposure to fentanyl.

More recently, people may recall hearing about fentanyl after the death of Prince. The local medical examiner’s office determined that he died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl. One of the side effects of fentanyl is respiratory depression, which apparently caused Prince’s death. Respiratory depression essentially means, you stop breathing.

It is difficult to understate how backwards our government and the war on drugs are when some segments of society are fighting to keep marijuana illegal so that companies like Insys Therapeutics can make more money selling a much more dangerous, unnatural product. It is an indictment of our politicians who will take any position for the right donation, even if it means the proliferation of a drug another department of government considers “a significant threat to public health and safety.” It is also an indictment of our electorate whose ignorance about the issue and the true motives behind marijuana criminality allows this problem to persist.

More recently, people may recall hearing about fentanyl after the death pf Prince. The medical examiner’s office determined that he died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl. One of the side effects of fentanyl is respiratory depression, which apparently caused Prince’s death. Respiratory depression essentially means, you stop breathing.

It is difficult to understate how backwards our government and the war on drugs are when some segments of society are fighting to keep marijuana illegal so that companies like Insys Therapeutics can make more money selling a much more dangerous, unnatural product. It is an indictment of our politicians who will take any position for the right donation and our electorate’s ignorance about the issue. Yet, it continues.