As more Americans express interest in the healing potential of medical marijuana, the boardroom brass of Big Pharma has become noticeably concerned about how these changing opinions might affect their bottom line.
It is for this reason the pharmaceutical companies have found it in their best interest to keep lawmakers, as well as the pill-popping public, at bay regarding the truth about cannabis by paying hefty salaries to members of academia to perpetuate modern day Reefer Madness.
Dr. Herbert Kleber, psychiatrist and drug abuse researcher with Columbia University, recently went on record to advise against using marijuana because of the potential for addiction and other health risks. It is, “A bad idea. I don’t think we know what we’re getting into,” he told NPR. However, while protesting against the idea of legal marijuana, Dr. Kleber failed to mention that he was a paid consultant for several leading pharmaceutical companies, including Purdue Pharma, who manufactures the addictive painkillers Dilaudid and OxyContin, and Alkermes, who produces the newly FDA approved heroin pill — Zohydro.
It stands to reason that drug addiction is not much of a concern for Kleber, especially considering painkillers are responsible for causing high addiction rates and an increase in overdose deaths — killing more than 15,000 Americans every year. It is apparent that Kleber is more interested in massaging the guts of the capitalist cow than he is with the potential plight on civil society as soon as marijuana goes mainstream.
Another culprit guilty of waging war against the progress of marijuana while, at the same time, stroking Big Pharma’s dangling appendages is Dr. A. Eden Evins, who in addition to being a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School, she also sits on the board with Kevin Sabet’s group of anti-pot hatemongers — Project SAM. She has voiced concerns over how legalized pot shops have a tendency to con the average citizen into believing marijuana is safe, but she dares not say a cross word about prescription painkillers in fear of losing her meal ticket. Dr. Evins is a “consultant for Pfizer and DLA Piper and has received grant/research support from Envivo, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer,” according to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
There is also Dr. Mark L. Kraus, who while sitting on the board of the American Society of Addiction Medicine told Connecticut lawmakers that legalizing medical marijuana was a mistake because there is not enough research to prove it is a legitimate treatment. Yet, as journalist Lee Fang uncovered for a recent article for VICE, Kraus was part of the scientific advisory panel for Pfizer and Recklitt Benckiser prior to issuing statements against medical marijuana.
The details surrounding these anti-pot crusaders is enough evidence to suggest that pharmaceutical lobbyists are, in fact, one of the primary reasons why prohibition has yet to be repealed. Earlier this year, Fang published a comprehensive piece about this subject in The Nation, which tells the tale of how most anti-drug campaigns, like Community Anti-Drug Coalitions for America and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, are receiving funding from drug companies. When taking into consideration that marijuana is considered a safer alternative to prescription medications for anxiety and pain, there is no doubt that the pill pushing suits of Big Pharma are what stands in the way of nationwide pot reform.