Author Archives: Topanga

Blog Post 4

Panne,Valerie Vande. “Big Pharma’s Weed Winner”. The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast. 24 01, 2014. Web. 11 08, 2015.


In Valerie Panne’s  article titled “Big Pharma’s Weed Winner” published by The Daily Beast, Panne chronicles GW Pharmaceuticals new marijuana-based drug Sativex and claims that this new company is the safest of all cannabis businesses.

In her article, Panne describes Sativex and its makers GW Pharmaceuticals. Sativex is derived from cannabis and is used to treat the spasticity caused by Multiple Sclerosis. Panne argues that Sativex is “different”, because it contains THC (tetrahydrolcannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), real compounds of marijuana, unlike other synthetic marijuana-based drugs on the market (Panne). She goes on to say how legitimate GW Pharmaceuticals is because they are partnered with Bayer and Novartis, two of the biggest pharmaceutical companies out there. Panne suggests that because of this merger with large companies, this makes GW Pharmaceuticals and subsequently Sativex more attractive to investors (Panne).

Although Panne is on board for the pharmaceutical industry to get into the marijuana game, she realizes how this can affect those farmers who began commercial marijuana growing. She describes how local farmers are being “forced out” of the business because of the heady licensing fees states are now requiring for growing marijuana. Moreover, Panne writes how these local pot businesses made the marijuana market thrive, but their money is deemed illegal in the eyes of the government. Panne then goes on to say how GW Pharmaceuticals is different, presumably  because they are seen as a legal enterprise (Panne).  Panne concludes that because GW Pharmaceuticals has been successful with getting Sativex on the market world-wide and is trying for the U.S. , this makes them perhaps “the most safest, most trusted of all cannabis dealers” (Panne).

I cannot deny the success of GW Pharmaceuticals product that Panne feels is a game-changer, but I am doubtful of their sincerity because they are a pharmaceutical company. In the beginning of the article Panne is quoting things that she would usually say about a pharmaceutical company like “this anti-depressant is being prescribed off label and is making kids under 18 kill themselves” (Panne). A statement like this shows how Panne herself is skeptical of pharmaceutical companies. Panne overgeneralizes her argument when she says that Sativex is safe because she couldn’t find any side-effects of it , but then relays the information that the drug is only legal in twenty-four countries and is still going under trials in the U.S. (Panne). Knowing that Sativex is still under trials makes Panne’s argument of a trustworthy marijuana- based drug seem faulty, the jury is still out as to whether Sativex and GW Pharmaceuticals for that matter are safe.

Panne makes another over-generalization when she claims that GW Pharmaceuticals could be better a cannabis dealing than mom and pop organizations. GW Pharmaceuticals is one company with one marijuana-based (emphasis on based) product.  Panne mentioned in her article how these local organizations were the ones that put marijuana in the spotlight, but now with her endorsing  companies like GW Pharmaceuticals, its okay to snatch it from under them. Panne made a point to let her readers know that Sativex is a plant derived drug, not the plant its self. If the product doesn’t really have all the good things marijuana has to offer, it makes me wonder what else GW Pharmaceuticals has included in Sativex. Does this drug have the qualities that “mom and pop” weed has? Panne over-generalizing that this drug and its company are somehow the answer to the medical marijuana issue makes her arguments simple,  in that it doesn’t cover the topics complexity.




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Analysis of Ashley’s Volvo Ad

Looking at the advertisement I am struck with the theme of Disney. The Volvo is driving down a dark road, with Disney Land behind it, giving light. The “Where Dreams Really Do Come True”, says to me that with buying the Volvo you would fulfilling a childhood dream, like going to Disney Land. There is a picture of Ella from Frozen, a very successful Disney movie. There is also Tinkerbell, who is flying above the Volvo, as if she were sprinkling magic over it. There is also pixie dust surrounding the car, which correlates back to the Disney theme of magic and dreams really coming true.

The most important feature is Disney Land in the background of the ad. It’s sitting faraway, seemingly ethereal and magical. The situation seems like someone who came to Disney Land and their dreams come true. This reflects the audience of adult people who may have never been to Disneyland, but were able to and their experience was magical. The ad is speaking to anyone who has never been to Disneyland, to entice them to let their inner child out, and live in a fantasy.

The most noticeable elements to the ad are the two Disney characters and Disneyland. When you first look at the picture, your eyes are drawn to the Disneyland background, one because it’s dark and Disneyland is the only source of light, and two it’s the largest aspect of the page. The picture of Ella is also big, bringing home the feel of childhood and fantasy, and anything happening. You see the Volvo, but it’s highlighted by Tinkerbell’s pixie dust. This takes the focus away from the car and puts it on Disneyland, the medium for dreams coming true.

The phrase that appears to the right of Disneyland, “Where dreams really do come true”, is brought forth with all the elements of this dark road that the Volvo is traveling on and this light that Disneyland is illuminating. This makes the argument that even as an adult person, one can come here and the childhood dreams you once had can flourish.


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Research Summary 4

Topanga Knox

Elliott, Steve. “U.S.: Anti-Marijuana ‘Experts’ Are Paid By Big Pharma Painkiller Drug Companies”. Hemp News. Hemp News, 29 Aug, 2014. Web. 03 Aug, 2015.

In Steve Elliot’s article for Hemp News,”U.S.: Anti-Marijuana ‘Experts’ Are Paid By Big Pharma Painkiller Drug Companies”, Elliot focuses on how the pharmaceutical industry’s business dealings with medical professionals and anti-drug organizations have stifled the legalization of marijuana. This text  sheds light on the medical community that has been outspoken against pot. It also highlights key people who have been extremely influential in keeping marijuana illegal, and viewed as bad in the eyes of the public.

This article is a very credible source, because the platform it has been published on is solely dedicated to marijuana reform. The article can be found on Hemp News. com, an Oregon based publication that has been advocating for the benefits of marijuana use since 1991. The fact that Hemp News has been running for over twenty years speaks on how credible it is seen a source for news pertaining to marijuana. The writer of the article is Steve Elliott, he is also the author of “The Little Black Book of Marijuana: The Essential Guide to the World of Cannabis”. He has been published in The Seattle Weekly and Village Voice Media. He also an editor for Hemp News. His extensive background in journalism and knowledge of marijuana makes Elliott the perfect voice to chime in about the politics of legalization. Elliott seems very passionate about his work, which makes his argument stronger, and leaves no room to second guess how he feels about it. In this particular piece, Elliott writes in a way that is very informative, but isn’t boring. His verbiage isn’t necessarily angry, its just strong in nature, in that he really portrays Big Pharma the way it should be portrayed. In the article there are several journals and prominent medical personnel being quoted and cited in the text. It is made apparent that Elliott knows what he speaks of, and has the research to back what he is saying. With all the evidence shown it would be almost impossible not to believe what Elliot is claiming about drug companies. He uses the pharmaceutical companies own cheerleaders to banish any idea that the marijuana legalization movement hasn’t been tampered with. His evidence is very convincing and is hard to refute. All things combined Elliott and his article are credible, reliable, and to be taken serious.

With a critical eye, Elliott focuses on how big drug companies like Purdue Pharma and Pfizer have doctors on their payrolls to serve as yes-men to their questionable pharmaceuticals and nay-sayers to the benefits of marijuana. Throughout the text Elliott is very forthcoming with the names of “scientist” and “researchers”, who in his opinion, have “sold out”(Elliott).  He claims that medical professionals have been paid to bolster the regressive arguments of Big Pharma (Elliott). He mentions one doctor-liaison in particular, Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University, who has constantly been used as a reference to reinforce the belief that marijuana has no use and should forever be classified as a schedule one narcotic. Elliott draws attention to the little known fact that Kleber is being paid by Purdue Pharma while he peddles the ills of marijuana. Elliott says that his writings are inaccurate and dramatic, but are still heavily quoted by scholarly journals and the popular press (Elliott). Elliott disproves Kleber’s total condemning of marijuana by finding research of his own that has found favorable uses for marijuana outside a recreational high.

Elliott also highlights what Lee Fang’s article “The Real Reason Pot Is Illegal” focuses on, which are lobbying groups such as CADCA and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, being used much like doctors to counter marijuana reform. Elliott notes that these organizations have relied heavily on Big Pharma funding, and subsequently only down the damaging effects of continued opioid use (Elliott). Elliott argues that anti-marijuana organizations use all their resources toward marijuana prohibition, but almost turn a blind eye to the major issue of prescription drug abuse.

Elliott’s observations of Big Pharma’s interaction with anti-marijuana groups and academics makes a very convincing argument that there has been a conscious effort to rid the medical and pharmaceutical communities of marijuana. Elliott’s findings that scholarly journals and doctors alike can basically be bought by Big Pharma shows how profitable prescription pills are, and how far the benefactors of those industries are willing to go keep marijuana off the table.




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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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My Communities

The communities I strongly identify with are being Black and a Christian. I hold these communities close to my heart because without them I would feel lost and incomplete.

blacknessBeing Black is very important to my identity. Blackness is something  that I couldn’t neglect in adding to my communities because it is me; I am Blackness. From the way that I talk, to the way that I think; it is inherently Black. That isn’t meant to marginalize Black people and tout the ignorance that we all think alike,  because we don’t, but there is an underlining current of togetherness we share as a community. Looking at my community I find that our values system revolves around faith and camaraderie. There is a certain respect we hold for our parents, elders, and brethren alike. These values in my opinion were borne out of slavery, where we had to lean on one another for strength, hope, and fortitude. From something so horrific and tragic came the unification of one peoples.

It would be nice to say that I have never experienced racism or prejudice just because of the color of my skin, but that would be a lie. There have been times when I could just feel the hate because I was Black.   I remember a time in third grade where I was denied friendship because I was Black. In another instance I remember being called a Nigga by little boys at playground  across from where I lived. These occurrences left me feeling baffled and hurt. How dare someone categorize me, not see me for Topanga, but as just another Black person. Sometimes I don’t feel necessarily comfortable to really be myself in fear of feeding into the typical Black stereotype. Being loud or using slang has over time been consider “Black” or something for the lower class, and I reject that entirely. Being apart of community that is joyous and vibrant is what makes being Black beautiful . I will forever identify with this community and do my best to bring forth its richness.

Aside from identifying with the Black community, I identify as a Christian as well. My mother was raised Southern Baptist and my father was raised African Methodist, so believing was a big deal in  my household. To reflect on the things that compromise me as a person, Christianity is one of my foremost attributes. My faith dictates a lot in my life. The way I make decisions, how I carry myself as a young woman, is all connected to Christianity.One of the greatest feelings in my life was when I became a baptized Christian. It felt very affirming and a little scary to know that I had just dedicated myself to Jesus Christ, but it was a decision I haven’t come to regret.

black jesusBeing a Christian I have been taught to depend on the word of God, for He is my sustenance. Because of my faith I value certain things like family and caring for the needy. There are things that I will simply not do, because they don’t align with my beliefs.

Belonging to the world-wide community of  Christians gives me strength to know that there are people the same as me going through the trials and tribulations of being a Christian. I have  definitely felt stereotyped for being a Christian at times. There are people who disagree with my faith entirely and refuse to see the good in it. People believe that this way of believing is archaic and backwards, but all I can do keep the statutes that were handed down to me. I will never renounce my faith, just like being Black, it is inherently apart of who I am.

Upon researching the Hornslink database I found several organizations here on campus that are attuned with my communities.  Afrikan-American Affairs is organization promoting leadership and community for Black students at UT. This is definitely something that I will checking out in the fall, so that I can connect with people who share the same culture that I do. I also found a Christian organization called Access Christian Fellowship. This organization is all about developing a deeper relationship with Christ and taking the Gospel to the world, and those are two things I am interested in as a Christian.

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