Report: Fentanyl Manufacturer Supporting Marijuana Law Opposition in AZ

If you suffer from any kind of chronic pain or perhaps have endured a major surgery in recent years, you’re probably familiar with Fentanyl. It’s a powerful, fast-acting narcotic painkiller that is typically appropriate for severe, acute pain. It’s highly addictive, possessing many heroin-like qualities. It’s also extremely deadly when taken in high doses or in combination with other substances, which can cause respiratory distress.

Prescription bottles used to store medicine

Yet the makers of this drug have continued to advertise it as a common pain relief drug. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, in light of a growing body of research to suggest marijuana could be a safer, more effective alternative to the scourge of painkiller addiction and overdoses in the U.S., that its manufacturer is pushing to quash the potential competition. It makes even more sense when you learn the company, Insys Therapeutics, recently came out with a synthetic cannabis product.

A recent investigation by The Washington Post reveals the Arizona-based company dropped a $500,000 donation to the group, “Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy,” a group that staunchly opposes legalizing marijuana. This amounts to more than one-third of the money raised by the group. 

This donation represents one of the single largest contributions to any one anti-legalization campaign – ever. A donation of that size has the potential to give the anti-marijuana group some real power, even though supporters of legalizing the drug have typically raised more than their opponents by 3-1. For example, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign has raised more than $3 million.

Meanwhile, Inys’ new drug, called Syndros, is a synthetic marijuana that contains THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in July, though it won’t be available until the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) designates its scheduling.

Insys’ sale of fentanyl has come under scrutiny lately by both federal and state regulators as well as shareholders after evidence emerged indicating the company improperly hyped the substance to physicians in an effort to pump up its sales. It especially doesn’t look good when a former sales representative for the firm was jailed back in February for fraud relating to a fentanyl purchase kickback scheme. That was followed by two other employees of the company being arrested in August in connection with a similar scheme.

However, a representative for the company insists the company’s opposition is rooted in the desire to ensure no drug comes to the market before it’s been thoroughly and properly tested – and marijuana, the company insists, has not. In particular, the company spokesperson said, it is concerned about the safety of children. While espousing the general benefits of cannabinoids, the company questions the safety of the actual plant. Meanwhile, processed, synthetic versions are apparently Ok.

This is a high-stakes issue across the country, particularly given that we know opioid overdose deaths – a serious problem nationally – have been reported to decrease in areas that have access to medical marijuana.

Those who support increased access to marijuana say that the acceptance of these funds from prohibitionists undercuts their stated desire to protect public health.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

A maker of deadly painkillers is bankrolling the opposition to legal marijuana in Arizona, Sept. 9, 2016, By Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post

More Blog Entries:

Nuisance Abatement Laws Result in Eviction for Marijuana Users, Sept. 13, 2016, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog