Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Opioid makers spend big to stop legal cannabis

Why Big Pharma is Spending so Much Money to Defeat Marijuana Initiatives - Hit & Run : Reason.com - Eric Boehm:

October 28, 2016 - "Legal marijuana will poison children and cause more Arizonans to die in car crashes, according to scary television and online ads running across the state in advance of Election Day. 'Edibles that look like candy, marketed to kids,' warns one ad, with a voiceover meant to sound like a concerned mother....

"The ads were created by Arizonans For Responsible Drug Policy, a group that's encouraging voters to reject Arizona's Proposition 205, which would allow people aged 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their own homes. Arizona is one of [five] states — along with California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada — that could vote to legalize recreational weed on November 8.

"Despite the voices and faces in the ads, though, Arizonans For Responsible Drug Policy and similar groups urging 'no' votes on marijuana legalization in other states are not funded by concerned parents and public officials. In large part, these groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies trying to protect their share of the market for painkilling drugs — and in Arizona, the biggest donor to the 'No On 205' campaign is a company that's been investigated for its role in overdose deaths.

"That company, Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics Inc., is best known for manufacturing a pain relief spray that contains fentanyl, an opioid that's been under heightened scrutiny for its role in several overdose deaths, including the high-profile death of Prince in April..... Insys Therapeutics in August made a $500,000 contribution to Arizonans For Responsible Drug Policy, the largest donation the group has received from a single source.

"It's not just happening in Arizona. According to a report from The Nation, Purdue Pharma and Abbott Laboratories, makers of the painkiller[s] OxyContin and Vicodin, respectively, are among the largest contributors to the Anti-Drug Coalition of America. Meanwhile, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which advocates on behalf of drug companies, spent nearly $19m on lobbying in 2015, according to a report from The Guardian, which called PhaRMA 'one of marijuana's biggest opponents.' Federal lobbying data aggregated by Maplight shows that PhaRMA has spent more than $150 million on lobbying since 2008 — a total that only includes federal lobbying efforts, not similar work done in state capitals, where PhaRMA is also active....

"[I]t's worth asking why they would be so keen to spend millions of dollars fighting marijuana legalization.

"One big part of the answer is that states with legal marijuana — medical or recreational — have lower rates of drug prescriptions."

Read more: http://reason.com/blog/2016/10/28/why-big-pharma-is-spending-so-much-money
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