DEA Approves Synthetic Cannabis for Pharma Co. That Paid $500K to Keep REAL Weed Illegal

DEA Approves Synthetic Cannabis for Pharma Co. That Paid $500K to Keep REAL Weed Illegal

By Claire Bernish

After it waged a veritable war against cannabis legalization in Arizona, coughing up half a million dollars for the campaign, pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics recently announced its ultimate victory has finally come to fruition: the DEA has approved one of the company’s groundbreaking pharmaceuticals — synthetic marijuana — to be listed as a Schedule II substance.

“Insys gave $500,000 last summer to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, the group opposing marijuana legalization in Arizona,” the Washington Post reported. “The donation amounted to roughly 10 percent of all money raised by the group in an ultimately successful campaign against legalization. Insys was the only pharmaceutical company known to be giving money to oppose legalization last year, according to a Washington Post analysis of campaign finance records.”

That flood of cash from the pharmaceutical company with a vested interest in killing legalization probably did just that.

Now, the equally profit-motivated U.S. government has bestowed on Insys Therapeutics what is tantamount to skirting federal cannabis prohibition — despite that synthetic Syndros contains the equivalent ingredient, THC, which nature provided in the first place.

This coordinated effort between a profiteering, private entity and the U.S. government to not only crush, but scoff at our personal liberties sounds a quiet but resounding alarm for America’s legal cannabis industry.

The fact the cannabis plant, itself still languishes as a supposedly dangerous Schedule I substance, while Big Pharma can profit from its imitation, did not occur by happenstance — in fact, Insys’ history should have flatly nullified this government-granted windfall.

Syndros garnered approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last summer for the treatment of the nausea, vomiting, and weight loss suffered by AIDS and cancer patients.

Now, Insys has received the green light from the Drug Enforcement Agency, which categorized the synthetic substance and its generic formulations as Schedule II — a classification placing it alongside substances from cocaine and methamphetamines, to Adderall, OxyContin, and even methadone.

Cannabis remains on the DEA’s hitlist of Schedule I dangerous substances the State vilipends as devoid of redeeming medical value, on par with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote — largely due to pressure from, if not surreptitious coordination with, Big Pharma. See: Report Shows DEA Deliberately Blocked Beneficial Science to Perpetuate War on Cannabis

Insys’ brash endeavor to crush cannabis legalization while attempting approval of a fabricated concoction that mimics the vilified plant must be the most astonishingly callous example of corporate profiteering we’ve seen in years — and indeed, this hypocrisy has not escaped the cannabis advocacy microscope.

“It appears they are trying to kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets,” J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona, asserted last year.

Even a cursory examination of Insys Therapeutics’ anti-pot propaganda — imbued with all the patronizing semantics characteristic of an industry too experienced in cozying up to the U.S. government — belies the inanity in Big Pharma’s naked profiteering.

In short, it doesn’t matter to Insys and the federal government that scores of patients suffering a startlingly wide spectrum of ailments find relief from a plant, cannabis, in its natural state — together with loosening laws nationwide — cannot profit Insys.

But a fabricated version of the plant — and its oh-so-helpful categorization as less dangerous than what nature managed to produce — can.

During its shameless anti-pot campaign, Insys bloviated of legalization, “it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” 

Perhaps targeting the heartstrings of family members whose loved ones use cannabis to treat childhood epilepsy and seizures, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Crohn’s disease, addiction, depression, ADHD, or one of myriad other conditions, Insys deigned itself a shield between customers and the villain plant, adding:

“[Insys] firmly believes in the potential clinical benefits of cannabinoids… [and] we hope that patients will have the opportunity to benefit from these potential products once clinical trials demonstrate their safe and effective use.”

That socially-awkward attempt to seem compassionate fools no one — and hasn’t yet — considering Insys Therapeutics began seeking the boundless profits of synthesized cannabis more than a decade ago.

Insys predicted current staggering support for the medical and recreational use of cannabis years ago, as the company postured on the need to maintain the non-synthetic plant’s Schedule I status in a 2011 letter to the DEA, noting:

“[The] longstanding policy of the United States to disfavor domestic cultivation of narcotic raw materials because of concerns about the abuse potential from farming of this material.”

But evidence that the pharmaceutical company’s hostility toward the cannabis plant pertained to the profits deprived it, in actuality, came years earlier — Insys’ own words from nearly a decade ago substantiate fully the financial motivation. A disclosure filed by Insys on August 17, 2007, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proves beyond a doubt that the profit-robbing factor motivated the killing of cannabis legalization. Forgoing pretense, Insys asserted:

“If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol [Syndros] product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.”

Of course, given Insys Therapeutics’ penchant for flying fast and loose with the law when profits are at stake aligns perfectly with the company’s insultingly-hypocritical, patently-fictitious moralizing on public health concerns.

Insys is now under investigation for off-brand marketing of fentanyl — an opioid painkiller 50 times stronger than Schedule I-listed heroin, and one of the most addictive substances available — a route pharmaceutical companies take when a drug is either found efficacious in treating an additional condition, or when sales for the approved purpose slump.

Worse, and lending further credence to the company’s profit-no-matter-the-cost modus operandi, several Insys executives were just arrested in December for conspiring to pay off healthcare workers to recklessly prescribe the medication — even when the dangerous opioid wasn’t needed. According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts in an announcement on December 8, 2016:

“Several pharmaceutical executives and managers, formerly employed by Insys Therapeutics, Inc., were arrested today on charges that they led a nationwide conspiracy to bribe medical practitioners to unnecessarily prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication and defraud healthcare insurers.”

Stated Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Division of the FBI, after the arrests:

“As alleged, top executives of Insys Therapeutics, Inc. paid kickbacks and committed fraud to sell a highly potent and addictive opioid that can lead to abuse and life threatening respiratory depression. In doing so, they contributed to the growing opioid epidemic and placed profit before patient safety. These indictments reflect the steadfast commitment of the FBI and our law enforcement partners to confront the opioid epidemic impacting our communities, while bringing to justice those who seek to profit from fraud or other criminal acts.”

Yet, the duplicitous nature of the U.S. government’s prohibition on cannabis now has the DEA, putatively Drug Warrior Number One, transparently forking over legal protections for synthetic THC, allowing the company to profit handily, while the plant’s scheduling makes criminals out of patients legitimately using cannabis for medical reasons.

It is this skirting of legality, deceptive marketing, duplicitous propaganda, offensively direct assistance from the government, and flagrant criminality that make Insys Therapeutics the exact corporate thug paragon of a monied-interest, authoritarian Police State.

If you need a case to abolish the State, look no further than its dealings with the cannabis plant — whether or not you are a user, the miraculously beneficial weed has flourished for centuries unmolested by self-important empires, until fiat currency made it a threat to unscrupulous profiteers.

The State’s farcical war on cannabis has effectively ended for most Americans — and it’s well overdue the government catch up with the rest of us.

Also by Claire Bernish: 

About the author:

Claire Bernish

Born in North Carolina on the first of March in a year not so long ago, Bernish currently resides in San Diego, California. Educated at University of Cincinnati and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she finds interest in social justice, police brutality, exposing the truth behind propaganda, and general government accountability.

She describes herself: “I am an activist and journalist: because both my parents were journalists during Watergate; because my father was a DC politician; because plutocratic corporatocracy; because I went to Ferguson following Mike Brown’s murder; because militarized police state; because while livestreaming in Ferguson a CNN crew got out of MY way; because I’ve been homeless several times; because unity of purpose, not mind, will solve everything; because I can tell you from experience there is always something you are not being told; because I want to tell you what they don’t.”

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