Big Pharma and Marijuana

Topanga Knox

Lee Fang

Lee Fang.”The Real Reason Pot Is Still Illegal”. The Nation. Jul 02, 2014. Jul 29, 2015.

In Lee Fang’ s article, “The Real Reason Pot Is Still Illegal”, Fang discusses the connection to Big Pharma lobbyist and the anti-marijuana legalization movement.  Fang claims that pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Purdue Pharma use anti-drug coalitions, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America, to advance their own profits. All throughout his article, Fang uses the knowledge of other credible sources like Dr. Andrew Kolodny, a psychiatrist who leads Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. Fang refers to Dr. Kolodny who is very skeptical of Big Pharma’s involvement in anti-marijuana lobbying believing that its hypocritical of drug companies to remain silent on hydrocodone products, “while investing energy in maintaining marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug” (qtd. by Fang). In his article Fang furthers and expands on Dr. Kolodny statements, using statistics and other sources to tie his argument together. He is a relevant source to this controversy because his research is in-depth and very hard-hitting against the partnerships between marijuana lobbyists and Big Pharma.

Fang is a very credible source regarding politics and investigative journalism. He was a reporting fellow of The Nation magazine, where he mainly covered the financial aspects of politics and lobbying in Congress. The Nation is one of the oldest publications in the U.S, starting in the 1860s as a platform for  abolitionist.  It is widely regarded as a forum for Leftist politics. Fang’s employment for The Nation, and his background in investigative journalism has primed him to be an extremely trustworthy and reliable source for controversial topics such as Big Pharma’s influence in pot legalization.  Fang is also the author of The Machine: A Field Guide to The Resurgent Right.  His article concerning pot lobbying isn’t full of angry statements and unfounded claims, but is very forthcoming with information that can easily be verified. Fang utilizes the words and actions of politicians, pharmaceutical companies and lobbying convoys to strengthen his arguments. All of his experience, thoroughness , and attention to detail showcases how credible Fang is in the arena where politics and industry meet.

According to Fang the relationship between marijuana lobbying and Big Pharma has overlapped in a way that is very counter-productive to the legalization movement. He points out that the CADCA, (Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America), which is one of the largest anti-drug organizations in the U.S. , is “curiously sponsored ” by Purdue Pharma the maker of Oxy-Contin, a highly addictive prescription pill as Fang points out. Fang highlights the issue with such an partnership between Purdue and CADCA, with the commentary of other critics stating,  ” CADCA takes a softer approach with prescription drug abuse and a hardline approach to marijuana”(Fang). In Fang’s mind this is completely biased and further escalates the real drug problem of prescription drug-abuse here in the United States. Fang uses statics from the the CDC, which hails painkillers like Oxy-Contin and Vicodin, as the main proponents of overdose’s in the U.S. today. He finds that more than 16000 American citizens die each year from opioid-based prescription drugs, and consume over 84% of the worlds supply of oxycodone. He makes a point to acknowledge that no one has ever died from marijuana use.  Instead of seeing prescription drugs as a potential problem and realizing the benefits of marijuana, Fang argues that special interest groups bottom line is “the biggest threat to marijuana legalization”(Fang). He claims that significant profits in pot prohibition, is what drives these interest groups to keep lobbying against legalization.

Fang’s research has made him savvy to the Big Pharma/lobbying game. Through his research he found that the Stop Oxy Abuse Act, which wouldv’e relabelled opioid drugs from moderately severe to severe, the two biggest anti-drug firms, CADCA and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, were decidely silent about it. Fang states that those coalitions haven’t endorsed any bills, “that would block the approval of new, stronger painkiller drugs”(Fang).  Moreover Fang noted how the CADCA rallied up its lobbiers to oppose an amendment that would protect legal marijuana growers from DEA raids, and that it passed “with bipartisan support”(Fang). Fang qoutes Erik Altieri, a spokesman for National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws saying that marijuana can provide a great alternative to chronic illnesses, but “pharmaceutial companies don’t want to see another vendor on the market”(qtd. by Fang). The inclusion of this quote stitches together what Fang already believes is a business oppportunity to big pharmaceutical companies.

In his article, Fang gives concise insight into how pot legalization has been sold down the river for more lucrative profits garnered by Big Pharma. He exposes the supposedly moral conduct of lobbying, which gives readers the inside track into what really happens. With his research Fang is able to convey his viewpoints strongly, and dispell the myth that political and industrial lines don’t cross.


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2 Responses to Big Pharma and Marijuana

  1. Shaniece!

    I like how Feng identifies a problem within a system that appears to share common interests. He sheds light on notions that are not easily perceived or widely accepted. Without this knowledge the readers of his article would have remained unaware of the scandal between the entities named above. I am sure that there are other concealed details between the marijuana industry and other businesses that have not circulated publicly.

  2. Damn Big Pharma! They absolutely want to monopolize the drug area. They just want to make money and keep prices high. They know marijuana has healthier and better effects on the user, instead of others such as tylenol. We must dismantle Big Pharma because they do have a huge influence on politicians and that is why marijuana is slowly rolling out

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