Opposition to Recreational Marijuana in AZ Intensifies

In November, Arizona residents will vote on Proposition 205 (2016) regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana in their state.  The decriminalization of marijuana is a topic of interest to me.  As a criminal defense attorney in Washington, I routinely represented clients in the criminal justice system faced with felony and misdemeanor marijuana offenses pre-passage of I-502 (which appeared on the general election ballot in Washington in 2012).

To that end, I recently read an article in the Washington Post related to Proposition 205 (2016).  Apparently, the opposition movement to legalize marijuana in Arizona gained a strong ally in pharmaceutical company, Insys Therapeutics.  Insys Therapeutics recently donated $500,000 to fight decriminilization of marijuana in Arizona.  But what skin does Insys Therapeutics have in the game?  For starters, Insys developed a new drug based on a synthetic version of THC.  Next, many people consume marijuana for pain relief, Insys also manufactures, Subsys fentanyl, a painkiller that is reported to be highly addictive and sometimes deadly.  In the article we read, “[s]upporters of marijuana legalization questioned the company’s motivation for getting involved in the campaign, noting its financial interest in minimizing competition for Subsys and synthetic marijuana products”.

The article in the Washington Post reports that Insys is facing state and federal investigations and a shareholder lawsuit, over accusations that it improperly marketed the drug to doctors in an effort to boost sales.

Also of note in the article, it indicates, Insys wrote the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2011 expressing opposition to loosening restrictions on natural THC.  But just last year, Insys petitioned the DEA to loosen restrictions on the synthetic version of another marijuana compound occurring in plants known as CBD.

Based on the nature of my law practice, I have seen more criminal charges born out of prescription painkiller addiction than I have seen born out of marijuana usage.  Just an observation.

Where ever, you land on the issue of marijuana legalization / legislation, its very clear to me opposition spear-headed by big pharma is a functionality of wanting to control the market space and reap the profits.

Disclaimer:  While Washington State has legalized recreational marijuana.  There are still age restrictions on its usage other restrictions include but are not limited to restrictions on sales, usage, cultivation, storage and processing.  Moreover, it is still considered a controlled substance under federal law.  Worded another way: marijuana sales, possession, cultivation, processing, etc, etc can still be prosecuted under federal law.

To read the article in its entirely, please click on the link.