The Miami New Times reports on the Florida Medical Association (FMA) 2016 annual meeting held at Walt Disney World sponsored by PhRMA, one of the pharmaceutical industry’s largest trade organizations.
The FMA voted to oppose Amendment 2, Florida’s latest effort to legalize medical marijuana. More than 20 000 physicians are represented by the FMA in the state. Two years ago a similar effort was opposed.
FMA CEO Tim Stapleton says: “There is nothing medical about this proposal, and the lack of scientific evidence that pot is helpful in treating medical conditions is far from inclusive.” This statement was published in a news release by Drug Free Florida, a campaign backed by billionaires to scare people from voting in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.
The FMA neglected to mention the key fact that the annual meeting where members were voting was at a PhRMA sponsored conference. PhRMA has spent millions to defeat medical marijuana proposals across the nation.
Why is there such a threat in medical cannabis being legal?
Pharmaceutical companies’ opposition to the legalization of cannabis has a long history, but of late, the major reason for the opposition is the drop in opiate painkiller sales in states where medical cannabis is legal.
A study done by the University of Georgia in 2015 showed a single doctor in a medical-marijuana legal state is likely to prescribe 265 less doses of antidepressants, 486 fewer doses of anti-seizure medication, 541 fewer prescriptions for anti-nausea medication, 562 fewer anti-anxiety prescriptions, and most importantly, 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in just one year.
This is why the pharmaceutical industry is pulling out every stop it can possibly find to prevent legalization of medicinal marijuana. PhRMA spent $18 million in 2013 alone lobbying against legalizing cannabis according to the campaign-donation-tracking website OpenSecrets.org.
Some speculate that the effect of medical marijuana on the prescription-pill industry drove Carol Jenkins Barnett, Publix heiress, to donate $800,000 to Drug Free Florida in July. Publix is one of the largest pharmacy chains in the South.
The FMA and big pharma seem to have quite a history of lobbying together; they have shared PR agencies before on at least one occasion. The FMA has an entire lobbying wing dedicated to “Pharmaceutical Corporate Affairs.”
A former FMA lobbyist’s LinkedIn profile proclaimed the lobbying group was a forum for collaboration between Florida’s physicians and major pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Merck. GlaxoSmithKline formerly employed the lobbyist.
The big pharma giants Endo Pharmaceuticals and Allergan amongst others also sponsored the FMA’s spring conference in 2015.
Cannabis and pharma conspiracy
The conspiracy between big pharmaceutical companies on keeping cannabis illegal has more to do with the fact that the plant can’t be patented and owned for sole distribution. The active compounds can be synthesized and patented, but that is as far as they can ‘score’ on the deal. The threat to painkiller and other drug sales is only the beginning of the cannabis and pharma conspiracy being exposed – so watch this space…