Pharmaceutical company Insys spent $500,000 to block legalization in Arizona. Five months later it won approval for a cannabis-derived medical drug
As marijuana legalization swept the US in November, Arizona was alone in its rejection of legal weed. There, a pharmaceutical company called Insys was a major backer of the successful campaign to stop the states recreational cannabis measure, publicly arguing that pot businesses would be bad for public health and jeopardize children.
But to marijuana activists, the motive of Insys was clear to squash the competition.
Confirming those suspicions, Insys has now received approval from the US Drug Enforcement Administration( DEA) to develop its own synthetic marijuana, the latest case of Big Pharma battling small cannabis growers.
With marijuana now legal in more than half of the US, the budding cannabis industry and longtime underground players have grown increasingly concerned about security threats posed by powerful pharmaceutical manufacturers, which have simultaneously helped oppose legalization while seeking to develop their own synthetic cannabis.
I truly dont have a lot of hope for the smaller guy in this country, told Dr Gina Berman, medical director of the Giving Tree Wellness Center, a cannabis dispensary in Phoenix, Arizona. Pharmaceuticals are going to run me down. We have a small business, and we cant afford to fight Big Pharma.
The Insys case provides a stark illustration of what cannabis leaders say is the unethical and harmful posture of the pharmaceutical industry in marijuana fighting to block a plant that in some cases has proven to be an effective, safer and cheaper alternative to addictive prescription drugs.
Big Pharmas subsistence of groups opposing recreational weed have been well documented in recent years. But Insyss pursuit of synthetic cannabis signals the beginning of a different kind of threat and a potentially longer-term obstacle medication companies could pose if they seek to corner the market as weed statutes inevitably spread across the country.
Weve got these pharmaceutical companies that are using their lobbying power to bring something to market that people can grow in their home, said JP Holyoak, a marijuana dispensary owned and cultivator in Arizona, who chaired the states legalization campaign last year. They recognize that the horse has left the barn regarding marijuanas. They cant beat it, so now theyre trying to just take it over.
Insys, which did not respond to multiple requests for comment, donated $500,000 to the anti-legalization campaign in Arizona last year, marking one of the largest ever single contributions to a pot opponent campaign, in agreement with the Washington Post.
Read more: www.theguardian.com