Where Marijuana Is Legal: Opioid Deaths And Alcohol Sales Are Way Down

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF HIGH TIMES MAGAZINE)

For many years, the biggest threat to marijuana legalization and fledgling legal cannabis businesses was the police.

Fears of DEA agents breaking down the front door at dawn, prosecutions in federal court with its accompanying mandatory minimums or warrantless visits from helicopter-riding police who merely cut down plant and leave—such things happen and are legal—was what kept people involved in cannabis up at night.

But now, with legalization sweeping the country and a vast majority of Americans in support of medical marijuana, the real enemy is revealing itself.

And as recent events in Arizona demonstrated, it’s Big Pharma.

In 2015, U.S.-based companies made up 40 percent of the global pharmaceutical trade, a market share worth $413 billion. These companies are well aware that cannabis is becoming an accepted treatment for chronic pain and many of the other lifelong afflictions now treated by highly profitable trademarked drugs—and some have proven willing and able to take steps to make sure marijuana stays out of the hands of law-abiding Americans in order to protect that enormous bottom line.

“Pharmaceuticals are going to run me down,” Dr. Gina Berman, medical director of the Giving Tree Wellness Center, a Phoenix, Arizona-based cannabis dispensary, told the Guardian. “We have a small business, and we can’t afford to fight Big Pharma.”

The most egregious case to date is Insys Therapeutics. Insys, is an Arizona-based drug manufacturer of pain drugs that contain fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that’s been fingered in many fatal opiate overdoses (including the death of Prince).

Arizona was the lone state where a marijuana legalization initiative failed at the ballot in November—and one of the leading donors to the anti-legalization campaign, with a $500,000 check, was Insys. (Another was Trump-supporting casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Here are the Vegas nightlife spots to boycott, forever.)

As the Intercept reported this fall, Insys executives openly recognized the threat to its market posed by marijuana. And in a devious twist, Insys identified marijuana as an existential threat and moved to keep it illegal, while developing a new drug based on synthetic THC.

On March 23, the DEA ruled that Insys’s new drug, called “Syndros,” could be marketed and sold as a Schedule II drug—meaning it could be prescribed to patients as soon as this fall.

So far, the FDA has approved Syndros for AIDS-related weight loss and vomiting and nausea associated with chemotherapy—two of the original applications for medical marijuana.

“It’s pretty absurd that federal law considers marijuana to have no medical value, but allows for the development of synthetic versions of the same substance,” Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which sponsored Arizona’s legalization measure, told the Guardian.

But what about Insys Therapeutics? It’s a company straight out of a Superman comic. 

In December, Justice Department prosecutors took the “unusual” step of charging six former Insys executives, including former CEO Michael L. Babich, with racketeering for its “aggressive” marketing of a fentanyl-based pain drug called Subsys, the New York Times reported. Prosecutors alleged that in order to sell more Subsys, the company arranged lavish dinners and other events for doctors who prescribed “lots of” the drug, and when that didn’t work, the company resorted to kickbacks. 

One Connecticut nurse pleaded guilty in 2015 to accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from the company. Families of dead patients, prescribed Subsys despite prescriptions for other drugs that are fatal when combined, and despite no cancer diagnosis—the drug is only FDA-approved from cancer-related pain—have also sued the company.

In a statement, Carmen Ortiz, the-then U.S. attorney for Massachusetts (before she and many others were summarily fired by Trump administration officials earlier this year), pinned part of the blame for the country’s opiate epidemic squarely on “corporate greed.”

In January, Insys founder John Kapoor stepped down as chairman, a role he took over from the indicted Babich in late 2015. Kapoor’s exit came after Insys’s sales plummeted 40 percent, as Forbes reported. (Wonder if the alleged kickbacks had anything to do with the inflated numbers?)

It’s all very ominous, but in a real way, marijuana activists should let Insys try—and then fail, spectacularly, as they are primed to do.

Insys’s proposed product, called Syndros, is a solution of “oral dronabinol.” Dronabinol is the generic name for another synthetic version of THC that’s been on the market for quite some time, called Marinol—and if you know anyone who has used Marinol, you know what they think of it. Namely, it kind of sucks.

For many patients, fake weed simply doesn’t work. As one patient prescribed Marinol told CBS News, “It might as well have been M&M’s.”

This is almost certainly because as synthetic THC only, Marinol and Syndros both lack cannabidiol, or CBD, as well as dozens of others cannabinoids. And as per the “entourage effect” theory, proffered by luminaries like CNN’s Sanjay Gupta and many more, your body and brain need all of cannabis’s component parts in order for its medical “magic” to work.

But let’s say Insys strikes out with Subsys. It won’t end there.

This is a company accused, with enough evidence to indict in a federal court, of being willing to see people die in order to sell more drugs. And it won’t end with this company.

Big Pharma is scared of weed—terrified—and as any animal scientist will tell you, a cornered and frightened animal is the most dangerous. And that applies to humans.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

AMERICA’S TOP SPY TALKS SNOWDEN LEAKS AND OUR OMINOUS FUTURE

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘WIRED’)

AMERICA’S TOP SPY TALKS SNOWDEN LEAKS AND OUR OMINOUS FUTURE

Marijuana Is Not A Gateway Drug Up: It Is A Step Down Drug Though

 

The first time that I ever tried smoking Marijuana (Pot) was in the High School parking lot the year I turned 17, that was 1973. As I learned through the years the Pot I tried was Norther Illinois Homegrown and was basically worthless as far as getting a buzz (high) from it. Back then you could buy a five-finger bag for $15 but I thought it to be a waste of 15 hard-earned dollars. I am now 60 years old so I have been around Marijuana for 43 years now so yes, I do have some opinions that I would like to share with you about what I think and believe about this God-given plant. The next time I tried Pot I was 23 years old and living in Houston Texas. I have never really been a drinker of alcohol nor a user of hard drugs and I have never once stuck or been stuck with a needle with street drugs in it, I have never had such a desire to do so. The far right (wrong) media has been talking trash about Pot at least since about 1988 saying it is a ‘gateway drug” that gets people to go into doing “hard” drugs like Crack, Pills and Heroine. Folks, my life’s experiences have shown me that Pot being a “gateway drug” is a bunch of lies (BS).

 

Folks, I have known people who have smoked Pot their whole adult lives who have never gone onto harder drugs and that includes alcohol. I have known people in several professions who liked to smoke Pot in the evenings when they got home from work to help relax from the stress of their day and who would smoke it on the weekends for the relaxation of it. These people I speak of are my age and older who are now retired from their jobs. These people were/are inner twined into the fabric of our economy. They bought and paid off homes, cars, boats, and raised families. None of these people who I know ever did anything to get into trouble with the law, they weren’t/aren’t robbers, murderers or violent people. Many millions of people believe that this is a God-given plant that is given to the people for many health benefits and believe that no man, no government has any right to refuse it to the people. This past week President Obama said that Marijuana will stay in the class one category of drugs because it has no medical value and this is what the DEA also spouts as truth. I know that these are educated people but if they believe this they would have to be both ignorant and stupid. The only reason that these people would say something so stupid is if big money is involved, and you know it is. So, is it stupidity, ignorance or just plain crooked. Personally I have to go with the big money, thus the crooked concept.

 

I am a service connected disabled Veteran from active duty Army service. I was only in for seven months because in the second month I was struck by lightning during a training exercise. The VA has in the past loaded me up with pain killers which do almost nothing for the nerve pain so I had them stop them about 14-15 months ago as I have no desire to walk around like a Zombie. The only thing that I have found that helps is if/when I can find some good quality Pot. The Pot does not cure the issues but then again, neither do the pills. The Pot works like a block on the nerve pain, the pain is still there but it does not let the pain signals go from (A to B) SO IT STOPS THE PAIN SIGNAL FROM GOING TO THE BRAIN. About two weeks ago the Senators and Congressmen who were on the committee over seeing the budget for the VA at the last-minute took the provision to okay medical Marijuana out of the VA funding bill. These disgusting people should all be fired this November!

 

In my life I have seen many cases where people who used to smoke Pot but had to quit because of laws about pre employment and random drug test at their employers, if I remember correctly this kicked into high gear in about 1988. If you are old enough to remember this is about when our Federal Government started their so call ‘war on drugs’. This ignorance, the way they have gone about things have cost many thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars that could have gone into the economy instead. For many people when they had to quit smoking Pot because it stays traceable in your system for about 30 days they then started drinking or just drinking more than they ever had. Also for many people who still wanted a ‘high’ when they had to quit smoking Pot turned to things like Cocaine, Crack, Heroine, and Pills because these things only stay in a person’s system about three days. So in essence, the Government has increased drug usage with their ‘war on drugs’. Check the stats, in states where Marijuana is now legal drug overdoses have gone down, Pill usage has gone down because people would rather have the mellow high that Pot gives and a fact is, no one has ever died from an overdose of Marijuana. If states would all legalize real Marijuana this new product called K-2 would disappear. It seems like every week we are hearing of people having to go to the hospital because of the chemical effects of this synthetic version of Pot. Just yesterday it was on the news that 10 people in Austin Texas were sent to the hospital because of it.

 

There is only one thing that comes to mind for the reason that Marijuana is not legalized and that is there is very big money flowing into D.C. politicians to keep it illegal. Remember what I said about the VA? If Marijuana became legal and the VA was able to dispense it the drug companies would lose billions of dollars each year because there would be no need or reason to take their chemicals. This would also save the VA and the tax payers billions of dollars each year, this is money that could be going into the economy instead of CEO’s pockets. The U.S. ‘war on drugs’ has in fact created drug traffickers and cartels. This ignorance has created revenue for street gangs here in the States. How many lives has been taken by these gangs from South America and Mexico to Los Angeles to Chicago to New York to small towns all over the U.S.? Marijuana being illegal has helped fuel other much more dangerous drugs and gang warfare on our city streets! How many police have lost their lives in this war? I don’t know that answer but even one Officer losing their life over the bought and paid for politicians and their hypocrisy is just plain evil. There is also the reality that many policing agencies go after the people with small amounts of Pot for the purpose of stealing people’s personal property like their homes, cars, land and bank accounts. It is safer and more profitable to go after these people who are much more mellow type of folks. The exception would be when the police are trying to arrest some of the Pot dealers, some times some of these folks will have guns or big dogs to worry about. There is also the concept of the Prison Industry which cost the public billions of dollars to arrest, convict and house/jail Pot smokers each year. Some States cry about over crowded prisons and want to have more jails and prisons built. The remedy to this problem is simple, free the people you have in the prisons who are there for simple possession of Pot. This would free up many cells in which to put the violent offenders! Also there is the problem of our Court system being so backed up with people charged with simple possession that it takes ridiculous amounts of time to adjudicate the cases of the violent criminals that our local jails are over-flowing. One last thought, the U.S. has more people in Prisons than any nation on Earth, more than Iran, Russia, China or even North Korea. The remedy to all these ill’s is simple, make Marijuana legal, every thing about this issue is a win win for our Country and our people.