It is 2018 and the Secretary of Health and Human Services is saying,
“There really is no such thing as medical marijuana.”
Alex Azar, the new Secretary (previously held by Tom Price who resigned in disgrace for improper spending) formerly served as a pharmaceutical exec and a pharma lobbyist. He joins a cabinet with, to a person, an abiding hatred of marijuana.
Bizarrely, Azar made his comments slighting medical cannabis when speaking about the government’s response to the opioid crisis.
We are devoting hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of research at our National Institutes of Health as part of the historic $13 billion opioid and serious mental illness program that the President and Congress are funding.
Over $750 million just in 2019 alone is going to be dedicated towards the National Institutes of Health working in public-private partnership to try and develop the next generation of pain therapies that are not opioids.
But that next generation of pain therapies will not be cannabis, elaborated the health secretary.
There is no FDA-approved use of marijuana, a botanical plant. I just want to be very clear about that.
As Azar well knows, the FDA is not set up to deal with a healing plant such as marijuana. The problem is not in the drug’s effectiveness nor safety; the problem is the FDA’s lack of desire and ability to study cannabis, which research around the planet has shown to be a powerful preventive, palliative, and even curative drug for a score of maladies and diseases.
In reality, medical marijuana is highly effective in relieving many types of pain. It acts well as an adjunct to opioids, reducing the amounts needed of these dangerous narcotics. Powerful evidence exists showing that cannabis use is an effective way of reducing, even ending, use of addictive and often lethal opioids. Medical marijuana may well indeed be Azar’s “next generation of pain therapies that are not opioids.”
As if ignorance and resistance to all things medical marijuana were not bad enough, Azar recently began claiming that marijuana might be tainted with fentanyl, the hyper-opioid now contributing to many of US opioid deaths. The claim appears to be a self-invented myth, without rhyme nor reason. Nick Wing investigated the bogus claim in a Huff Post article, HHS Secretary Pushes New Weed Scare Tactic: ‘Marijuana Laced With Fentanyl’
Donald Trump told the country that he would “drain the swamp.” He also promised to reduce soaring drug prices, declaring that big pharma companies “are getting away with murder,” and offering hope that tax-payers and patients might find relief from drug price inflation.
Instead, the swamp apparently added an alligator named Alex Azar.
In his former Ely Lilly incarnation as head of Lilly USA, Azar oversaw a three-fold increase in the cost of the company’s insulin product, Humalog. This for essentially a nearly one-hundred-year-old medicine, and taking place during a veritable diabetes epidemic. Business Insider tackled the economics and the ethics of this appalling rip-off in a well-titled article, .A 93-year-old drug that can cost more than a mortgage payment tells us everything that’s wrong with American healthcare. Humalog and its competitors have seen nearly simultaneous price hikes.
2018 marks 30 years since the 1988 landmark declaration by DEA law judge the Honorable Francis Young. Three decades ago Judge Young correctly noted, “Marijuana is the safest therapeutically active substance known to man… The evidence clearly shows that marijuana is capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision.”
Three decades later, the American government is still acting in an “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious” manner, still lying about and rejecting medical cannabis, with new lies now by the 2018 Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sad.