Why Pharma Companies are Fighting Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana—taboo for some, panacea for others—has been gaining ground in the great national debate for its acceptance, not just as a recreational drug, but also as a viable medicine.

A debate will always have at least two sides arguing, and on the podium opposing marijuana legalization stands a group with arguably the most influential and major voices in the field of health care—pharmacists.

To be specific, it’s not the small-time pharmacists who hate marijuana; it’s the big pharmaceutical (a.k.a. Big Pharma) companies who do. But why is that? Why do they have to be against a substance that’s been proven to be a safer alternative painkiller to regular narcotics? Perhaps these may be some of their reasons. 

A Few Variables on Marijuana Are Not Fully Understood Yet

Cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. As such, research into the drug needs authorization from the government, which is something that’s not always given freely.

Because of the limited research, there are still many things about marijuana that are not fully understood yet, like how to mitigate its high potential for abuse. Pharma companies do not want to give their backing to something like that. They might receive any backlash should there be a major issue with marijuana, which will hurt their image and their profits (more on this below).

However, with half of America now allowing the medical use of cannabis, more research will be allocated to understanding it. As part of those studies, some patients administered with cannabis may be required to use drug test kits to monitor the drug’s action in their bodies. 

Cannabis Can’t Be Monopolized

Big Pharma is built on monopolies, patents, and the arbitrary pricing of prescription drugs. It’s a business made for profit, which is basically the foundation of their platform against marijuana. They’re not fighting marijuana legalization for any chivalrous purpose. They’re doing it to protect their profits, and marijuana is the leaf that can topple their empire of drugs.

Pharma companies have tried to synthesize their own version of cannabis, but most of their results are inferior to the raw herbal version. They came up with Marinol, a man-made form of cannabis, but patients still prefer the original over the artificial. 

Cannabis Is Easy to Grow

Producing and processing cannabis are fairly easy and can be done at home without any complicated equipment. A lot of cannabis entrepreneurs are going big with the trend of legalization, and most of them aren’t medical experts or have degrees in medicine. One such entrepreneur is even a former felon.

This means that pharma corporations will have many competitors and that there will never be a short supply of cannabis. Add both to the fact that cannabis can be a cheaper and safer alternative to some contemporary medicine like morphine, and it’s obvious how much of a threat cannabis is to the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies. 

At the End of the Day, It’s All about the Money

There’s nothing more compelling for a corporation to resist change than a loss of income, and that’s basically it. Big Pharma fights marijuana legalization because it will hurt them financially. All other reasons for stem from profit.

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