Medical marijuana industry about to be cornered by drug companies, Sativex?

Categories: Marijuana

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As we've reported in the past, a recent investment report coming out of Colorado pegged the size of the medical marijuana market at $1.7 billion, just under the amount generated annually by Viagra sales. That's enough moolah to catch the attention of the pharmaceutical companies, which appear to be quietly making moves to unleash a new prescription cannabis drug.

As first reported by the American Independent, the drug in question is Sativex. Manufactured by the British company GW Pharmaceuticals, Sativex is different from other marijuana substitutes like Marinol and K2, because it's not synthetic; it's a liquefied sativa extract that patients suffering from serious ailments such as multiple sclerosis or cancer spray place under their tongues. Like old-fashioned pot, Sativex contains both healthful cannabinoids and the psychoactive component THC -- although apparently the THC is limited enough that it will take quite the dose to get as high as say, smoking a joint.

Sativex is already for sale in Britain, and it will soon be hitting the shelves on all continents except ours -- but the drug seems destined for America, too. The Japanese company Otsuka has reached Phase III of U.S. clinical trials for Sativex, meaning the FDA has approved preliminary test results and the drug is closing in on reaching pharmacies.

The rise of Sativex and other prescription forms of pot could spell trouble for the marijuana legalization movement, warns the American Independent. After all, it's lucrative for the pharmaceutical industry to boast the only legal forms of marijuana, and the industry is clearly willing to leverage its multi-million dollar lobbying machine to keep it that way.

For a while, Sativex's manufacturer had on its payroll Dr. Andrea Barthwell, a former deputy drug czar who's lately been attacking medical marijuana because, unlike prescription drugs, it's not regulated by the feds. And Richard Burr, one of Congress' big opponents of medical marijuana laws, also happens to be the top beneficiary of pharmaceutical dollars.

Does that mean marijuana is destined to become as commercialized and mass-produced as, say, Ritalin? Likely not -- since nobody's going to want to celebrate 4/20 by dropping a few splashes of prescription extract under their tongue.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Pot legalization: Booze-fueled-sex-assault victim previews Women's Marijuana Movement event."

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10 comments
Vapor Room
Vapor Room

Great Article, but lets keep it natural...

Oo
Oo

Colorado should secede from the union.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

This is the exact same thing they are doing with poppies. It's a federal offense for you to grow your own poppies and cut them to make opium. But the government gives tax breaks and the like to big pharma to grow them ship the stuff to India or Turkey turn that raw opium in to a pill, then ship it back to you and sell it at a huge markup. This is all legal because it's regulated and your too stupid to medicate yourself only the all knowing government is able to tell you what you need to put in your body.

Cannabis N.I.
Cannabis N.I.

Stick a patent on it and rob the people of natures gift.

GetReal
GetReal

The problem with taking a vitamin C tablet, is that there are a whole bunch of other good things in the orange that you are not getting. Eat the orange instead.

Also, will this force the feds into admitting that there is medicinal value in cannabis? I doubt it. Why be swayed by facts?

Toosmart4TheirOwngood
Toosmart4TheirOwngood

What an F*cking joke, just another sign that our government is controlled by corporations. Lets jack that price up and line the corporate coffers, god forbid local businesses make money off of providing medical marijuana. I am just disgusted with our governments constant willingness to suck the dick of corporate america.

J Curwen
J Curwen

The words the DEA uses to define a class 1 drug are "without accepted medical use" as I recall. Too bad they set themselves up as the arbiter of what's "acceptable." The literature is replete with examples and hypotheses. So all of the relevant research is now done overseas because their butt boys at the NIDA won't issue permits for any of that "more research" that "is needed."

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

On the other hand, with the drug companies involved, weed will be legal everywhere by next Tuesday.

John
John

No, weed would never be legalized, and even medical weed would go from legal back to very tough to get, because the drug companies will be selling its competition.

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

You couldn't be more right. I scanned the headline of this post in a pasta-induced food coma last night and somehow concluded that drug companies were going to start selling actual medical marijuana, in which case it would become legal everywhere in about nine minutes. But this -- this is just the worst thing ever.

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