Friday, August 29, 2014

Foes of Legalized Marijuana Are Shills for Pills

By David Downs
Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Earlier this summer, The Nation published a damning exposé on pharmaceutical companies funding anti-marijuana groups like Community Anti-Drug Coalitions for America and members of Project SAM. This week, the same author, Lee Fang, expands on the exposé with a piece for VICE that names more names.

Dr. Herbert Kleber
  • Dr. Herbert Kleber
For example, Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University has the credentials to get him on CBS, NPR, or NBC poo-pooing pot. Fang writes that those outlets haven't mentioned that Kleber has been a paid consultant to pot's competitors — the same companies fueling America’s prescription pill overdose epidemic — Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Reckitt Benckiser (Nurofen), and Alkermes (Zohydro). Kleber did not respond to Lee’s request for comment.

The marijuana industry is a direct competitor to the pharmaceutical industry. Cannabis treats chronic pain, allowing patients to take less opioids or none at all. About 16,000 Americans will die from prescription drug overdoses this year. Smoked or eaten marijuana — even concentrated forms of it — has no overdose level.

Dr. A. Eden Evins teaches psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, frequently criticizes legalization, and is on the board of anti-marijuana group Project SAM. Fang reports that as of November 2012, she was a consultant to Pfizer and DLA Piper, and took grant money from Envivo, GlaxoSmithKoine and Pfizer. Pfizer is a major player in painkillers, and wants to compete with OxyContin with a new opioid Remoxy.

Dr. Mark L. Kraus, board member to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, testified in opposition to medical marijuana in Connecticut. Fang reports that Dr. Kraus was also on the scientific advisory panels of Pfizer and Reckitt Benckiser.

Other groups who are funding anti-marijuana efforts and have conflicts of interests include alcoholic beverage distributors, operators of forced rehab clinics, and law enforcement lobbyists — who obtain billions of dollars per year in anti-drug grants from the federal government.

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