In any business field that’s affected by public policy, it’s important to always keep tabs on the enemy. The cannabis community’s strongest enemy of all, the pharmaceutical industry, is garnering more attention as the inherent conflict of interest becomes more clear.
Much can be learned about the cannabis movement simply by identifying the opposition. Interests such as law enforcement, parents, and religious groups have historically been against cannabis decriminalization, claiming that illicit substances are illegal for a reason, and that due to the public health and social ills posed by cannabis, work must be done to restrict access to children and the general public as much as possible.
However, the prohibitionist claims of insanity, addiction, aggression, and access to harder drugs via cannabis, have been refuted time and time again and continue to be debunked by studies and the anecdotal evidence of millions of medical cannabis patients – some of them children themselves.
With social side effects that pale in comparison to alcohol and tobacco use, both of which are legal and regulated industries in the U.S., cannabis proponents are getting sick and tired of battling the weak rhetoric of the opposition.
Pharmaceutical companies are known for being involved with anti-cannabis marketing stunts, too, whether directly or indirectly.
One of the largest anti-cannabis organizations in the country, the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA), has been known to take event sponsorship money from Purdue Pharma. Purdue is the manufacturer of OxyContin, a legal opioid prescription painkiller that has extremely high prevalence of abuse, addiction, unauthorized resale and death by overdose. Ironically, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids also receives a significant amount of support from major pharmaceutical companies, opioid manufacturers included.
In a questionable move, the City of Denver recently used funds from big pharma legal settlements to fund an experiential campaign likening cannabis-smoking teens to lab rats, complete with giant rodent cages placed in strategic locations around the city, TV and cinematic pre-roll ads, and a website detailing all the documented health risks of teen cannabis use. While some praised the campaign as hitting close to home for high schoolers, more viewed it as an unsubstantiated metaphor and scare tactic.
Recently, VICE published an exposé on just how intertwined big pharma and cannabis prohibition really are.
It turns out that many of the prominent physicians, researchers and psychologists cited by cannabis opposition groups are actually employed by the makers of OxyContin, Nurofen, and other addictive prescription opioid painkiller medicines. Organizations like Project SAM, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and police unions frequently employ such scientists to be their spokespeople in order to substantiate an anti-cannabis stance, even in the face of mounting – and impressive – medical cannabis research.
With prescription painkiller overdose taking the lives of at least 46 Americans every day, and cannabis causing exactly zero deaths over the last several centuries, who do you think is really working for a safer, healthier populace?