With efforts to legalize medical marijuana across the United States having been largely successful in recent years, there is speculation that the federal government will soon make a move, possibly in 2015, to reschedule cannabis in an effort to allow a variety of herb-based medicines to find their place in America’s billion dollar pharmaceutical market. Unfortunately, while proponents of pot reform have envisioned a time when Uncle Sam simply steps up to the podium of prohibition to eliminate the ban on marijuana altogether, policy experts predict the government is currently plotting to ream the nation with one of its usual scams by which it will reschedule cannabis in a manner that benefits the drug corporations.
GW Pharmaceuticals, Britain’s Big Pharma of Marijuana, has been in the United States for most of 2014 conducting clinical trials on its marijuana-based epilepsy medicine, Epidiolex; while the company is expected to receive approval from the Federal Drug Administration to begin clinical trails on its most popular cannabis, cancer-drug, Sativex, before the end of the year. Although these medications come with the stereotypical names often associated with advanced drug science, in reality they are nothing more than bottled combinations of THC and CBD, the two most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Even though the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance with no medicinal value, the FDA is eager to work with the kingpins at GW Pharmaceuticals to sell cannabis medicine to sick Americans. Yet, nationwide legalization of the herb for this purpose appears to make the congressional stomach churn. So what gives?
Some believe Uncle Sam has embraced GW Pharmaceuticals because the drug company has the necessary capital needed to obtain FDA approval, while others argue a corporate version of legal marijuana is simply easier for the feds to understand because it is packaged with familiarity – corporations led by crisp haircuts and Armani suits, not dreadlocks and tie-dyed T-shirts.
Nevertheless, it would appear as though the federal government fully intends to legalize medical marijuana on a national level in 2015 without acknowledging the many statewide programs already in place and without legalizing it, under similar provisions, in states where legislation of this type has not yet been passed. Instead, the United States will likely enact a process similar to what was done nearly 30 years ago, during the height of the AIDS scare, when the Drug Enforcement Administration rescheduled a synthetic THC pill called Marinol. Essentially, in the case of the AbbVie pharmaceutical company, which manufactures the pot pill, the DEA cleverly classified the drug a Schedule III substance without being forced to reschedule the cannabis plant.
All of the evidence points towards the federal government employing the same types of tactics to push GW Pharmaceutical’s Epidiolex and Sativex into the mainstream drug market – giving the drugs a Schedule II or III classification at the time of final approval. And while some believe this medicine will be an advantage for a large number of patients currently without access to raw, medicinal cannabis, it is predicted the annual cost of these pharmaceuticals varieties will be in the tens of thousands.
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