The Big Pharma Connection: Why politicians like legal marijuana but despise vaping
As of the U.S. 2018 midterm elections, ten states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. A whopping 33 states now have legislation in place legalizing weed for medicinal purposes. Meanwhile, cannabis products are still technically illegal at the federal level. U.S. attorneys simply choose not to enforce these federal statutes while opting instead to allow the states to regulate the industry as they see fit.
Conversely, the banning of vapor products at the local, state, and federal levels is gaining momentum amid outcries of teenage usage across the country. These public demands are only enhanced or perhaps even driven by the anti-vaping rhetoric of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. In a series of television interviews and social media rants, Gottlieb continuously insists that teen vaping leads to adult smoking. Meanwhile, he rarely speaks negatively of marijuana in any form.
Gottlieb’s anti-vaping rhetoric seems to be working, too. As state after state continues to pass indoor vaping bans just like those against smoking, the general public now equates vaping and smoking as being one in the same.
The city of San Francisco even passed legislation this summer prohibiting the sales of flavored e-liquids in the entire Bay area. The national of Prop E only incited increased nationwide public demand for the now-implemented FDA ban on the sales of flavored vaping products through conventional brick-and-mortar establishments coast to coast.
Even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new national statistics indicating that smoking rates are at the lowest point in history, neither the FDA nor the general public seems to care. The vaping industry gets zero credit for potentially saving millions of lives by helping smokers quit. Instead, vapers are still condemned, vilified, and even accused of pedophilic-style marketing campaigns.
So, why do politicians despise vaping? And why are so many of them ready to embrace legalized marijuana? To quote the character Deep Throat from the movie All the President’s Men, “Follow the money.” And the money leads apparently leads right to Big Pharma.
Big Pharma’s conflicts with vaping
Big Pharma has very deep pockets, just like Big Tobacco or the National Rifle Association (NRA). And with these massive financial reserves comes the ability to purchase political influence in the form of campaign contributions to corrupt politicians.
Long before vaping became an international phenomenon, Big Pharma could see its potential. Theoretically, vaping could be a revolutionary delivery system for prescription drugs. Instead of pills or injections, patients could simply vape their medications while also enjoying the increased speed at which the medicine would enter the bloodstream. Either way – vape or no vape – Big Pharma would benefit financially.
But Big Pharma had a significant problem with vaping, too - namely that the pharmaceutical industry had billions of dollars already invested in the manufacturing and marketing of smoking cessation products. GlaxoSmithKline offered Nicorette Gum to help smokers quit. Meanwhile, “the patch” by Johnson & Johnson was also raking in mountains of cash.
Vaping could potentially end their collective financial windfalls. Based on this one simple truth, Big Pharma wants the vaping industry eviscerated, and it has the political cloud to make it happen.
Big Pharma’s collusion with marijuana
33 states legalize weed for medicinal purposes. Who would vote against a bill that promises to offer aid and comfort to the sick and infirm, right? And since legalized marijuana is now quickly becoming socially acceptable by John Q. Citizen, there is virtually no argument to continue criminalizing its use for recreational purposes. As a result, marijuana use only continues to become normalized in the process.
Politicians could care less about recreational cannabis. It’s the medical pot that brings in the big buck for Big Pharma and, consequently, the politicians themselves.
Case and Point: CBD-based Epidiolex. In late May 2018, the FDA approved an application by GW Pharmaceutical to manufacture and market the first-ever CBD-based medication. It’s called Epidiolex which promises to help children suffering from two very rare forms of epilepsy - Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
Epidiolex was the prefect “first marijuana drug” to open the doors to a previously untapped world of marijuana medication marketing. No one would ever condemn the FDA for approving such a kid-friendly medication even if it did happen to contain medical weed.
The flood gates were finally opened. The approval of Epidiolex was historic, especially for pharmaceutical companies. And they would make billions of dollars in the process. Vaping, on the other hand, still had to go.
Related Article: FDA approves CBD-based Epidiolex to treat severe forms of epilepsy
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)