Are leading anti-marijuana academics on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies?

Posted on October 06 2015

Yes, at least in some instances, is the answer to that one. 

Is it really that much of a surprise? In truth, things like this are hard for me to belief. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the UK where we have a National Health Service where treatment and medicine is free for all those who need it, regardless of how much money you have. It constantly baffles me that this isn’t the case in America. That some people, born into certain socio-economical backgrounds, are simply too poor to pay for the medicine they need. I find that absolutely despicable in a country as rich and powerful as America, but I guess this is another argument.

No, what I’m trying to say is, when I think of a company who sells medicine, I immediately place them in a similar mental place to Doctors and Nurses. These are people that are helping us. It is altruistic. It is kind. It is caring. Right? Of course I know it’s fucking ridiculous to think like this. I know I’m being naive, but maybe it is because I grew up in the UK that I think like this. I’m never gonna be a business man and I’m never gonna be rich. If I had medicine that someone else needed I would give it to them without asking for anything in return. That’s because I care about people more than I care about money. I know not everyone is like this, but I still think in this way.

So, in the debate about the legalisation of marijuana, a lot of the pro-marijauana camp’s argument is built upon the premise that marijuana has medicinal value. If it can help people get healthy, then people are gonna demand it, right? So the anti-marijuana is of the debate attacks this by simply saying it’s not true. I’m not a doctor. I don’t know. I listen to the experts and try and make an informed decision. And when an expert tells me it is harmful, I pay attention.

But what about if these experts are on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies? Well take, for example, Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University. Kleber has impeccable academic credentials, and has been quoted in the press and in academic publications warning against the use of marijuana, which he stresses may cause wide-ranging addiction and public health issues. But when he's writing anti-pot opinion pieces for CBS News, or being quoted by NPR and CNBC, what's left unsaid is that Kleber has served as a paid consultant to leading prescription drug companies, including Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Reckitt Benckiser (the producer of a painkiller called Nurofen), and Alkermes (the producer of a powerful new opioid called Zohydro).

I think you can see where my thought process is going. I believe any Doctor who would lie about the medicinal properties of ANY drug, who would do anything to prevent people getting the help they could be getting, who would go against their oath to help and assist people, should be struck off the register. Whatever the financial implications of marijuana being legalised. Whatever the companies stand to lose or are willing to pay an “expert” is nothing when set against the life of another human being. 




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