Blame big pharma for regressive medical marijuana policies

Although it’s been proven to alleviate symptoms of serious medical conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, migraine, and cancer, and is legal for medical use in 28 states, medical marijuana still faces huge hurdles in Georgia.

State officials cite its “Schedule One” classification by the federal government as Georgia’s reason for neglecting it’s proven medicinal properties. However, considering the way Georgia government works, the reasons might be more about money.

In 2014, when Gov. Deal refused to support medical marijuana, in favor of costly clinical trials, Better Georgia found that pharmaceuticals had a lot to gain by slowing marijuana legalization.

Big pharmaceutical companies like Novartis and its partner company GW Pharmaceuticals want to drastically slow down the push for medical marijuana in favor of conducting clinical trials that could take years to complete — because these companies produce the pill that would be used in the trials.

They also happen to be major donors to Gov. Nathan Deal, Sen. Unterman and Rep. Sharon Cooper — three Georgia politicians who prefer slow-moving clinical trials to legislation that could help Georgia families today.

recent article in The Washington Post examined why big pharma companies have financial motivation to block medical marijuana.

In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.”

The article also connected this lowering number of prescriptions to pharmaceutical companies spending more money on anti-marijuana research.

“The tanking numbers for painkiller prescriptions in medical marijuana states are likely to cause some concern among pharmaceutical companies. These companies have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform, funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization.”

Bioscience, including pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical research, is currently booming in Georgia. This means lots of big pharma companies funneling money into keeping medical marijuana off the table in Georgia, so that people will remain dependent on prescription medicine.

On Thursday, the Georgia Senate passed a bill to limit the amount of THC in Georgia’s only legal form of medical marijuana — cannabis oil. The Senate’s bill, while slightly expanding the diagnoses that are treatable by oil to severe Autism, decreased the percent of THC allowed in the oil from 5 percent to 3 percent. Many parents of children who use the oil for conditions like severe seizures are concerned the decreased potency could have decreased effectiveness, leaving children to continue suffering from extreme conditions.

Meanwhile, the House is still hearing a bill that would expand the diagnoses considered treatable by cannabis oil without touching the THC percentage.

We cannot allow big pharma to keep Georgians dependent on addictive pharmaceuticals. Many Georgia families have seen the difference that cannabis oil treatment has made in their loved ones. We need to make medical marijuana a reality for more people.

According to the Georgia Attorney General’s office, “in 2012 prescription drugs played a role in 592 deaths in the 152 of 159 counties in Georgia for which it performs autopsies.”

Medical marijuana has not only been proven to decrease the rates of prescription drug abuse in countries where it’s legal, it also offers better, less addictive, treatment of pain. We cannot allow our government to cater to pharmaceutical companies instead of the people of Georgia. We need more progressive medical marijuana policies.

Want to do something about Georgia’s backwards medical marijuana laws? Join more than 12,000 Georgians who have signed the petition to allow patients access. SIGN HERE. 

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