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big pharma front groups fighting marijuana legalization


November 29, 2014

Big Pharma Front Groups fighting Marijuana Legalization

By Mark Wachtler

November 29, 2014. Stamford, CT. (ONN) More Americans are accidentally killed each year by drugs than any other cause including car crashes – but not by drugs like marijuana that those taxpayer funded TV commercials keep insinuating. Instead, the drugs that are killing Americans are manufactured and sold by Wall Street corporations who rake in $325 billion annually from the drug trade. That’s why it’s no surprise to discover that America’s anti-marijuana non-profits are actually Big Pharma front groups.

Wall Street corporations would lose hundreds of billions of dollars if marijuana was legalized nationwide. Image courtesy of The Cosmic Surfer.

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Pharmaceutical corporations like Purdue Pharma and Abbott Laboratories are not only making tens of billions of dollars per year selling deadly and addictive opiate-based pain killers, they’re also using those proceeds to fund state-sponsored anti-marijuana organizations like the Partnership for a Drug Free America, Partnership for Drug Free Kids, and the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America. Purdue manufactures and sells Oxy-Contin, one of the most addictive and deadly opiate pain killers in existence, for a yearly profit of $27 billion. Abbott Labs makes and sells Vicodin, with an equally shocking number of deaths and annual profits.

20,000 people per year in the US are killed by prescription pain killers. As an example, one study in 2012 found that 3 people every day are accidentally killed by them just in the sparsely populated state of Kentucky alone. Americans also consume 80% of the world’s pharmaceutical pain killers. By comparison, 0 are killed from marijuana overdoses.

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And as Whiteout Press exposed last month with the report ‘Healthcare Costs by Country show Americans robbed blind’, American citizens are paying as much as ten-times more than all other countries for the exact same prescriptions. Marijuana is free, safe and easy to grow – it’s a weed. That’s why corporations like Purdue and Abbott Labs have enlisted front groups to reverse the rapid trend toward legalized medical marijuana, or even worse for Wall Street corporations, full marijuana legalization.

Washington-Wall Street drug syndicate

A lengthy and detailed report from The Nation magazine recently exposed how America’s deadly but profitable drug trade works. One example the investigators held up is that of former US Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat from Rhode Island and son of the late US Senator Teddy Kennedy. In 2006, Congressman Kennedy crashed his car into a Capitol Hill security barricade. He blamed his behavior on his drug addiction to OxyContin. Instead of going to prison like any regular marijuana-smoking American however, the nephew of John F Kennedy simply went to rehab and was even re-elected by his constituents.

Patrick Kennedy then turned his drug addiction into a very profitable political campaign. He announced he’d seen the light and was going to lead the fight against drug abuse, drug addiction and their deadly consequences. But rather than use his own tragic experience with Purdue’s OxyContin, he went to work for Purdue, ignoring pharmaceutical pain killers and instead warning about the deadly consequences of smoking marijuana.

‘In 2013, he also helped found an advocacy group – Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) – which has barnstormed the country opposing the growing state and federal efforts to legalize pot,’ The Nation reports, ‘Taking the stage to rousing applause last February, Kennedy joined more than 2,000 opponents of marijuana legalization a few miles south of Washington, DC at the annual convention of the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA), one of the largest such organizations in the country.’

The investigators go on to reveal, ‘Given that CADCA is dedicated to protecting society from dangerous drugs, the event that day had a curious sponsor: Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxy-Contin, the highly addictive painkiller that nearly ruined Kennedy’s congressional career and has been linked to thousands of overdose deaths nationwide.’

Profiting on death

The independent report goes on to confirm the death rates for both opiate pain killers versus marijuana. ‘The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more Americans now die from painkillers than from heroin and cocaine combined,’ The Nation reiterates, ‘The recent uptick in heroin use around the country has been closely linked to the availability of prescription opioids, which give their users a similar high and can trigger a heroin craving in recovering addicts. Notably, there are no known deaths related to marijuana, although there have been instances of impaired driving.’

Taking an unbiased look at the various groups on both sides of the marijuana legalization debate is incredibly revealing. The largest groups advocating for medical marijuana, or even the full legalization, are cancer patients, AIDS victims, war wounded and those suffering from chronic pain. Admittedly, their sole motivation for supporting legalized marijuana is to give millions of suffering Americans a less-deadly and less-addictive alternative to opiate-based pain pills.

What groups are actively fighting against marijuana legalization? Those profiting by its continued prohibition. As The Nation reports, ‘A close look at the broader political coalition lobbying against marijuana-law reform reveals many such conflicts of interest. In fact, the CADCA event was attended by representatives of a familiar confederation of anti-pot interests, many of whom have a financial stake in the status quo, including law enforcement agencies, pharmaceutical firms, and nonprofits funded by federal drug-prevention grants.’

Exposing the front groups

A separate report from the Huffington Post picks up where The Nation left off. The reporters detail the efforts and investments foreign pharmaceutical corporations are making in America in the fight against marijuana legalization. The investigators also looked at the same Big Pharma front groups that The Nation exposed.

‘In the US, some states have gradually legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes,’ the Huff Post reports, ‘Several painkiller manufacturers oppose the liberalization, however, and are demanding strict rules for private consumption. Officially, they claim that cannabis should not be legalized because it might be dangerous. In reality, they do not want legalization because it would make them poor.’

The investigators go on to reveal, ‘A not quite new but hitherto neglected confidential document of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids showed that several pharmaceutical companies financed anti-legislation campaigns, among them Purdue Pharma and Abbott Laboratories. Accordingly, Purdue is one of the donors to the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America.’

Republicans working for Big Pharma

Leading the witch hunt in Congress against marijuana reform is the Republican Party. Granted, some GOP politicians are opposed to medical marijuana because their constituents are little old ladies who still think smoking pot causes people to hear Jimmy Hendrix music, think they can fly and jump off of schools to their death. But other GOP representatives have less honorable motives. They’re on the Big Pharma payroll.

With the Republican revolution of 2014 giving both houses of Congress to the GOP, any hope of a national marijuana legalization law went up in smoke. Whiteout Press’ good friends at Just Say Now reported this week that the Republican effort to reverse marijuana legalization has already intensified. In this month’s just-completed Election, two-thirds of Washington DC residents voted for full legalization of marijuana. But Washington is the capitol of the Empire and federal laws already give Congress veto power over any laws passed by the local City Council or binding voter initiatives.

‘The people of DC voted overwhelmingly in favor of marijuana legalization earlier this month, but it might not happen because the 650,000 people in our nation’s capital lack basic democratic rights,’ Just Say Now reports, ‘Even though the people of DC have no representation in Congress, Congress has the power to override any local laws in DC. At least one Congressional Republican is determined to use this power to try to stop reform in the District.’

That Republican Congressman is US Rep Andy Harris (R-MD). The account quotes Harris in a report from The Hill confirming his efforts to pass federal legislation overturning Washington DC’s marijuana legalization, ‘We probably don’t have eight legislative days left this year, so it’ll definitely go into the next Congress. We can still do things in the next Congress. We’ll have more votes, more favorable votes.”

Jon Walker, the author of ‘After Legalization: Understanding the future of Marijuana Policy’ explained, “Earlier this year, Harris was successful in attaching an Amendment to DC’s 2015 funding Bill that would have nullified the city’s decriminalization law by simply barring funding for it. That package passed the Republican-controlled House, but the Democratically-controlled Senate never took it up.”

For more information or to monitor the ongoing fight for and against marijuana legalization, visit Just Say Now.

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