Big Pharma Set to Take Over Medical Marijuana Market
Even as the US government is tightening the screws on medical marijuana providers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may soon allow major pharmaceutical corporations to corner the cannabis market.
Raw Story reports that the FDA may be nearing approval of Sativex, a pain management drug derived from cannabis sativa. Sativex, which is produced by GW Pharmaceuticals and Otsuka, entered Phase III testing back in 2007. Phase III is usually the final step prior to marketing drugs in the US.
But while the FDA may soon give the green light for Big Pharma to sell medicinal marijuana, other federal agencies are attacking state-licensed cannabis dispensaries that provide medicine to millions of Americans suffering from ailments ranging from insomnia and headaches to cancer and AIDS. Just last week, the Justice Department threatened to prosecute state employees who license medical marijuana dispensaries.
Lynette Shaw, owner and founder of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM) in Fairfax, California, was audited by the IRS, which demanded millions of dollars in back taxes based on a provision of the federal tax code that disallows business deductions for companies “trafficking in controlled substances.” Despite laws allowing for the medical use of cannabis in 15 states and the District of Columbia, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug– along with others such as heroin, crack cocaine and LSD– and, as such, is very much illegal at the federal level.
The marijuana advocacy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) believes that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will allow the legalization of marijuana– but only for big pharmaceutical corporations. “The DEA’s intent is to expand the federal government’s schedule III listing to include pharmaceutical products containing naturally derived formations of THC while simultaneously maintain existing criminal prohibitions on the plant itself,” wrote NORML’s Paul Armentano.
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