Oops, what now? Medicare saved more than $165 million in prescription drug costs in 2013 in the 17 states where marijuana (cannabis) is legal.
Prescriptions for mental depression, anxiety, psychoses, seizures, sleep disorders and pain all declined. [Daily Mail US July 7, 2016; Health Affairs July 2016] Projected savings if all 50 States legalize marijuana comes to more than $468 million as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. And now we know why Big Pharma doesn’t like cannabis.
This news comes at a time when more Americans died of drug overdoses than any other year (2014) on record with more than 47,000 deaths in just one year, with about two-thirds of these deaths linked to opioids. Compare this to the number that died in automobile crashes (34,000) or died as a result of gun violence (34,000). [Vox Explainers July 6, 2016] Makers of the painkiller drug Oxycontin stand to lose big time should more States or the federal government legalize marijuana.
The federal government is said to be mulling over a change in laws that make marijuana an illicit drug. But that rumor has grown into speculation the federal government via the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is about to entirely de-schedule marijuana, which could put it in the same class as tobacco and alcohol. One can be sure pharmaceutical companies won’t sit on the sidelines too long if this happens. [Motley Fool June 25, 2016] However, if used to treat diseases and conditions, it would have to undergo FDA approval first. [Reason.com July 4, 2016]
It becomes crystal clear now, Government agencies have kept marijuana in the criminal closet for the good of Big Pharma that donates big money to politicians. What will happen now? Stay tuned.