No Shock: Big Pharma Tied to Anti-Pot

Smart Approaches to Marijuana was created in part by Patrick Kennedy, a former Rhode Island congressman known for being son of Ted Kennedy and for crashing his car into a Capitol Hill barricade in 2006. In an article from The Nation, Kennedy railed against marijuana in the name of improving mental health. Kennedy is now retired from congress, but The Nation said it was an addiction to prescription painkillers that sent the congressman to rehab and nearly cost his career.

The event at which Kennedy spoke took place in front of 2,000 people at the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America. According to The Nation, Kennedy used language to dismiss marijuana legalization arguments as extremist. This CADCA event was sponsored by Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin.

The Nation also informed readers that prescription opioids are the most dangerous drugs in the United States. Prescription painkillers cause 16,000 deaths a year. Compare that to zero known overdose deaths from marijuana. Also, more people die from prescription painkillers per year in the U.S. than heroin and cocaine combined.

The Nation reported one in 14 people in Kentucky are abusing prescription painkillers, which causes 1,000 fatalities every year. As we’ve noted recently, states with legal access to marijuana tend to have lower rates of painkiller-overdose deaths.

In addition to supporting CADCA, Purdue Pharma also supports the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the organization made famous by the phrase, “this is your brain on drugs.” This group also receives support from Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturers of Vicodin. The Nation’s article also revealed the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids doesn’t just receive support from these groups, but they’re also among their largest donors.

Vice, a global media brand, noted that not only are the anti-marijuana groups receiving support from the pharmaceutical industry, but marijuana’s leading academic opponents also have ties to them. Vice said that there is enough support for these groups from the pharmaceutical industry that it is evident they are trying to influence the anti-pot lobby.

The anti-drug organizations are run by people with questionable connections to the pharmaceutical industry. It’s no secret that marijuana is a pain reliever; thus, it has started to impinge on the market of other drugs like OxyContin. Marijuana threatens pharmaceutical companies. If marijuana becomes legal, people can choose to use it, or to use products made by Abbott Laboratories and Purdue Pharma to treat their pain.

Granted, marijuana is not a fully-legal drug; once it is, its perception in the media will change. In this litigious age of warning labels and fine print, we’re sure to see the same ominous messages on marijuana advertising and products as we do on packs of cigarettes. Despite the medical properties of the herb, it will never be advertised on TV.

Maybe that’s a good thing. We laugh at late-night comedians when they describe the side effects of smoking marijuana — red eyes, munchies and talking like Otto Mann from The Simpsons. We cringe in horror when we hear the side-effects of the pharmaceutical products rattled off during TV commercials, while the people depicted in those commercials always seem to have eerie pill-eating grins.

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