In yet another unsurprising case of Big Pharma trying to control the fate of millions of Americans’ health, Insys Therapeutics has donated $500,000 to an anti-legalization of marijuana campaign in Arizona known as Proposition 205. Pro-legalization advocates view the half million dollar donation as a further attempt to line the pockets of powerful drug corporations with profits by making it near-impossible for marijuana manufacturers to compete. Insys Therapeutics is a pharmaceutical company responsible for the production of a controversial oral fentanyl spray marketed as Subsys. Fentanyl is a highly addictive, extraordinarily powerful opiate typically used to sedate patients who are undergoing major surgery. The drug is 50 times more potent than morphine. It’s also the same drug responsible for the deaths of Michael Jackson and more recently, Prince. With the ever-growing opioid epidemic in the country, I ask: What could possibly justify a prescription oral spray of such an incredibly risky drug for the treatment of pain when marijuana can effectively (and safely) do the same for far less money?
Insys Therapeutics claims their donation was made out of concern over the safety of marijuana, stating their primary goal is to protect society’s overall health and well-being. That’s pretty interesting considering the company itself is currently under state and federal investigation in relation to its marketing tactics. Six states have already investigated the company’s sales practices, with the state of Illinois having sued Insys in August of 2016 for allegedly promoting the drug to doctors for uses other than those approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s also interesting to note the company is developing its own form of synthetic cannabis; one they say will improve upon a similar drug they used to manufacture which has since been discontinued. It seems quite obvious the company is not too concerned over the safety of cannabis itself but rather, anyone else making a profit from it but them. Their donation is one of the largest ever made to an anti-legalization campaign.
It’s no secret marijuana is much cheaper (and much safer) than pharmaceutical drugs; cannabis is a natural plant whose use has been shown to: significantly reduce discomfort in people who suffer from chronic pain conditions; help cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy by easing nausea and vomiting and increasing appetite; reduce the frequency of (and even stop) seizures in epileptic patients; reduce anxiety and panic; and restore healthy sleeping patterns for those who experience insomnia, just to name a few. Since the year 2000, opioid related deaths have increased by 200% in the United States. In 2014, there were over 28,000 opioid overdose deaths, which is the most on record to date. There have been no reported deaths due to marijuana overdose. Ever. So what’s really going on here?
The chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol J.P. Holyoak released a statement in response to this latest move by Insys that read, “We are truly shocked by our opponents’ decision to keep a donation from what appears to be one of the more unscrupulous members of Big Pharma. You have a company using profits from the sale of what has been called ‘the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market’ to prevent adults from using a far less harmful substance.”
Though medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Arizona since 2010, recreational use still carries heavy consequences. Why? Are we really willing to put pot smokers behind bars while the real criminals roam free, collecting billions along their journey toward world domination? Seriously, I’d rather have a run-in with a stoner than a pharmaceutical drug pusher any day. What’s the worst they’re going to do? Ask if you want to go in on a pizza together?
Wake up, America. And it (literally) wouldn’t kill you to go ahead and “bake” while you’re at it.