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Is Big Pharma for or Against Legalizing Medical Marijuana? Maybe Both.

Pharmaceutical companies are intrigued by the immense and growing medical marijuana market but cannot figure out how to corner it.

People growing their own marijuana may be a significant concern to Big Pharma. As state legalization of cannabis-derivatives spreads, the drug companies contemplating the potential of medical marijuana see a threat from both homegrown and professionally harvested medical-grade marijuana.

Pharma offers internal control and deep testing but experience shows that research and development add to customer cost. Even the 21st Century Cures Act won’t speed up the famously slow pace of FDA drug approvals. Given the facts and therefore the perception, you’ve got to wonder if Big Pharma is for or against legalizing marijuana.

Here’s the matter.

A lot of cash always attracts tons of interest. Big Pharma wants the revenues that marijuana promises but concede economic processes threaten their interests. Big Pharma can’t get its biggest slice of the pie with individuals and licensed producers harvesting cannabis, to not mention the black market that continues to thrive.

Ben Cohen, writing for US News, insists it’s all about money. He writes, “For years, large corporations and well-heeled lobbyists have blocked the legalization of marijuana for medical use or recreational use so as to guard their own profits.”

here’s no reason to expect this to prevent.

On the opposite hand, cannabis advocates have a private and emotional investment in promoting the legalization, or a minimum of decriminalization, of marijuana. Sometimes that creates them anti-institutional and that they skew the role of massive Pharma. Finding an objective point of view is difficult.

You might consider the hypocrisy at the February 2014 meeting of the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA). While speaker after speaker preached against the legalization of marijuana, leading financial sponsors of the program included Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin.

As reported within the Nation, both CADCA and therefore the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America) accept support from the producers of equivalent opioid medications that have led to tens of thousands of deaths. An equivalent two groups, among others, have opposed U.S. Congressional efforts to label prescription opioids for “severe pain,” but they need supported continuing Medicare reimbursement for the addictive pills.

Moreover, pharmaceutical companies take shelter within the DEA’s listing of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, an equivalent category as heroin. As long because the DEA effectively prohibits marijuana medical research, Big Pharma can take the moral high road. The Schedule 1 designation severely limits the needed research into the medical efficacy of cannabis-derivatives.

“Big pharma is lobbying against legalization, on the purported grounds of safety, but actually, they’re just buying time to make their own synthetic cannabis medicines,” said Alan Hirsch, CEO of Diagnostic Lab Corporation, a cannabis safety, and science company. “Several biotech companies have started creating cannabinoid chemistry from rice or yeast, but eventually, these medicines are going to be manufactured by Big Pharma in Schedule 1 facilities.”

The problem started with the Trump campaign.

Many of the equivalent voters who elected President Donald J. Trump voted to liberalize marijuana enforcement. And, like everything else with the arrival of the Trump administration, things remain during a state of confusion pending official updated stance.

In a government building (03/20/2016) meeting, then-candidate Trump said, “I think that as far as drug legalization we mention marijuana and in terms of medical I feel I’m basically for that. I’ve heard some wonderful things in terms of medicine. I’m watching Colorado very carefully to ascertain what’s happening out there.”

On The O’Reilly Factor (02/12/2016), when Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly called medical marijuana a “ruse,” candidate Trump said, “But I do know folks that have serious problems and that they did that they really — it really does help them.”

Later, candidate Trump told the Washington Post (10/29/2016), “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I feel that ought to be a state issue, state-by-state … Marijuana is such an enormous thing. I feel medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I feel so. then I actually believe we should always leave it up to the states.”

Decades ago he also told the Miami Herald (04/14/1990) “We’re losing badly the War on Drugs. You’ve got to legalize drugs to win that war. You’ve got to require the profit faraway from these drug czars.”

Confusion about the Trump Administration and cannabis.

President Donald J. Trump has sent several confusing signals to the pharmaceutical industry and therefore the cannabis advocates. NewsMaxFinance (03/03/3017) quoted President-elect Trump as saying, “pharmaceutical companies are ‘getting away with murder’ in what they charge the govt for medicines.” President Trump repeated that charge at a news conference reported by the Washington Post (01/11/2017) when he also said, “Pharma features a lot of lobbies, tons of lobbyists and tons of power.”

Fox Business (02/01/2017) interviewed Eli Lilly’s CEO, David A. Ricks, following Trump’s White House meeting with pharmaceutical industry leaders. “When asked if he gave the president any commitment to reducing drug prices or to investing in U.S. operations or jobs, Ricks responded, ‘No, Lilly didn’t do this. But, what we did say is that with the proper policy environment, especially, the company rate which today is an inhibitor for us to take a position in manufacturing here within us, alongside other pro-business policies could allow us to expand operations within the U.S’.”

And, Emma Court of MarketWatch (03/01/2017) reported following Trump’s Delaware of the Union Address, “The Tuesday evening mention of drug prices underscores ‘our view that Trump is committed to some action to allow federal involvement in pricing under Medicare Part D, his position for a year,’ Evercore ISI policy analyst Terry Haines said. ‘We still think that comes during ACA reform legislation when Trump can insist something is included as a condition of him signing the bill into law.’”

So perhaps President Trump is jawboning the pharmaceutical industry to form a deal? Trump wants some concession he can fancy his populist constituency in trade for lower corporate taxes. On the surface, this has nothing to try to to with marijuana. In fact, his position on marijuana could also be something he can trade.

It’s all about the cash.

Is Big Pharma for or against legalizing marijuana? Nothing shows that they favor accessibility to marijuana, and everything points to their opposition. However, investors in Big Pharmacy see the sunshine. they continue to be within the market and are buying up. They see there’s “> that there is no moral high road here but there is money for giant Pharma in cannabis.

“No pharmacy company is curious about making cheaper medicine,” Brian Chaplin, founding father of Medicine Box told me during a written interview. “The existing Pharma industry is more about patenting and manufacturing medicine that’s a treatment plan – not a curative plan.”

Chaplin argues that Big Pharma wants customers to wish their products, preferably for the remainder of their lives, while creating “customers” but not healing specific ailments.

“This is different from a ‘whole plant’ medicine approach — where we see patients responding to the synergistic effects of multiple compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes) within the plant that are usually lacking during a pharmacy — chemically prepared product,” he continued.

Interestingly, Big Pharma playing within the fields of cannabis might, in fact, help declassify the plant. Christopher Teague of HERB writes, “Big Pharma will prove that cannabis is medicine 100 times over, in every way, and therefore the DEA will need to reclassify the plant itself.”

According to Matt Gray, CEO and founding father of HERB, “Big Pharma has already dipped its toe into cannabis treatment, with the DEA approving synthetic cannabis for pharma company, Insys.”

That same company, however, also donated money to stop cannabis legalization from occurring in Arizona. “This just proves the purpose that Big Pharma cares more about their bottom line than the particular treatment of patients,” he continued. “So if they find it financially beneficial, they’re going to become involved within the industry, albeit it isn’t necessarily for the proper reasons.”

In the end, it’s all about striking a winning balance. Trump needs a victory over high drug prices, especially as they affect Medicare Part D. Big Pharma is during a position to demand concessions. Accessibility to cannabis R&D might just be one among them.

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