Earlier today, we published a story about Rep. Andy Harris from Maryland who just led the charge to overturn the will of Washington D.C. voters by inserting language into Congress' spending bill that prevents the District from implementing the referendum they passed to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2014 midterm election. That referendum, by the way, passed with 70% of the vote on Election Day.
Attn: recently conducted a poll of its readers which found that more than 90 percent support marijuana legalization as well.
"Relaxing [marijuana] laws clearly leads to more teenage drug use," Rep. Harris said. "It should be intuitively obvious to everyone that if you legalize marijuana for adults, more children will use marijuana because the message that it's dangerous will be blunted."
Except the Congressman is dead wrong. According to Gallup, marijuana use among 18-29 year olds has fallen 20% since 1985. Reformed drug laws have not resulted in an epidemic of marijuana use. Nor are young adults supportive of pot because they want to get stoned. "The same reason a heterosexual person might support marriage equality is why someone who doesn't smoke [pot] might support legalization," said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "They recognize it's the right thing to do."
So given the tenuous intellectual reasoning from Harris, we were left wondering, why might he be so zealous against the will of the DC electorate? Look no further than his campaign contributions:
His biggest contributor is the health industry, and among his top three biggest donors is the pharmaceutical company, Emergent BioSolutions, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. One of Emergent's products is epsil, "a fast-acting treatment that reduces the pain associated with oral mucositis," which is a common complication of chemotherapy from cancer treatment. According to its website, "by reducing the pain associated with OM, episil® may help you maintain proper nutrition and a level of comfort—and may allow you to continue your cancer therapy uninterrupted."
So what does any of this mean?
Marijuana (cannabis) is a huge combatant against many of the deleterious effects of cancer and chemotherapy, and thus a hugely disruptive threat to Emergent's business model. According to the National Cancer Institute:
A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies in mouse models of cancer showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.
Many animal studies have shown that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids stimulateappetite and can increase food intake.
Cannabinoid receptors (molecules that bind cannabinoids) have been studied in the brain,spinal cord, and nerve endings throughout the body to understand their roles in pain relief.
Cannabinoids have been studied for anti-inflammatory effects that may play a role in pain relief.
In other words, Emergent, one of Harris' biggest donors, has a vested interest in lobbying aggressively against legal cannabis. And apparently they have found their champion.
Earlier this year, Attn: reported that pharmaceutical companies have good reason to oppose the legalization of marijuana, since marijuana is often prescribed as a substitute to painkillers. A recent study from JAMA Internal Medicine also found "there was about a 25% lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths on average after implementation of a medical marijuana law" from 1999 to 2010."
So who does Rep. Harris really represent?
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