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Corporate Rats Eye Medical

Marijuana

 

By James Donahue

As more and more evidence leaks out about the medical benefits of marijuana and the pressure grows to legalize the plant for medical use, the more we notice that the big pharmaceutical companies appear to be jockeying for control of its sale and distribution.

As of this year, voters in a total of 16 states have followed California’s lead set in 1996 to legalize medical marijuana, although the struggle to establish ways to legally implement these directives continues to go on in almost all of them. That is because marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law, and the US Food and Drug Administration continues to aggressively search for and destroy “illegal” marijuana farming operations.

It is interesting that California voters rejected Proposition 19 in 2010 that would have even legalized marijuana for recreational use. Insiders, who say that recreational marijuana use is already a common practice throughout California and that Proposition 19 would open the door for corporate takeover of all the small private and legal marijuana shops presently operating.

The fear in California was that the system that was already operating smoothly, without interference from police and the courts, would be taken over by corporations. There were rumors that tobacco giant Philip Morris was planning to get into the marijuana growing business if the measure passed.

There was good reason for Californians to believe this kind of takeover was about to occur. While the feds are clamping down on small medical marijuana dispensaries the Food & Drug Administration appears to be preparing to give Big Pharma clearance to take over the market.

A report in Raw Story in April, 2011 revealed that G. W. Pharmaceuticals has partnered with Otsuka to bring liquefied marijuana to the United States under the brand name Sativex. The drug had at that time completed Phase II in safety trials. Phase III is the final step before the company can seek FDA approval to market Sativex on the U.S. market.

Sativex is derived from cannabis sativa and is an extract from the whole plant. It is not a synthetic compound.

In Michigan, where voters approved medical marijuana in 2008 and small private shops have been springing up in most major cities, a Michigan appeals court has ruled that the state’s marijuana law and the Michigan public health code “does not allow people to sell pot to each other, even if they’re among the 99,500 who have state-issued marijuana cards,” the story said.

The ruling strikes a serious blow to all of the small private medical marijuana businesses that have gone through the severe trouble of meeting strict state standards to establish legitimate businesses and serve a public in need of the relief the plant offers. Specifically targeted by the three-judge panel was Compassionate Apothecary of Mount Pleasant. The court said this business can be immediately closed as a “public nuisance” and that authorities can pursue similar businesses throughout the state.

Supporters of marijuana legalization say they aim to end what they call a hypocritical ban on a drug that is less harmful than alcohol, and actually beneficial to people suffering a variety of medical ailments.

The argument is that legalization will cut the high cost of law enforcement and jail confinement of violators, raise tax revenue and put controls on who buys and uses marijuana.

But users fear that once marijuana becomes legalized, a big corporate takeover of the sale and distribution of the plant will make it harder and more costly than ever to get their hands on this natural home remedy. And it will not stop police and court intervention on private growers who will continue to defy what they would view as another bad drug law.