One incredibly effective method for garnering support against a cause is to attack the science and facts supporting it, even if it is a virtual certainty that you’d be fighting a losing battle. It’s an old but potent tactic that has been used in several different industries over the past several decades, and now marijuana is the new target.
According to an article from from Vice, this is precisely what’s happening to the incubating cannabis industry, despite the fact that marijuana has only been legalized for recreational use in two states, with two more more waiting in the wings (along with the curious case of D.C.), and a number of others for medicinal purposes. It’s been well-known for a while that there are several groups with vested interests in keeping marijuana prohibition intact, including prison guard unions, law enforcement agencies, private prison companies, and even tobacco and alcohol conglomerates. But the group Vice focuses on is the painkiller industry.
At first thought, you might suspect that pharmaceutical companies would be ecstatic about marijuana prohibition finally coming to an end, as it could possibly supply them with a relatively cheap and valuable new resource to study and commercialize. But as with any entrenched special-interest group, they instead view it as a threat to profits.
Thus, instead of embracing the end of prohibition, many companies have decided to pay academics, as a sort of pro-industry group of mercenaries, to develop research that instead leads to the conclusion that marijuana is a health hazard and should remain outlawed. Vice cites the claims of Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University, who has published work and has also been quoted as saying that marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’, is addictive, and will end up harming society on a large scale.
While those statements may in fact reflect the genuine concerns of many people, it may not in fact be a genuine concern of scientists and doctors. Kleber, it turns out, is a paid consultant to several large pharmaceutical companies that manufacture painkillers, which could lose their appeal if marijuana is adopted en masse in coming years. After all, why would an ill individual opt to medicate using addictive, expensive and dangerous prescription medications when they can get the same, if not superior relief from cannabis-derived products?