On average opioid prescription rates are noticeably lower in medical marijuana states.  Coincidence?

A fascinating article highlights many of the conflicts of interest at the heart of top anti-marijuana legalization groups  in the country:

The Nation obtained a confidential financial disclosure from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids showing that the group’s largest donors include Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, and Abbott Laboratories, maker of the opioid Vicodin. [Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America] also counts Purdue Pharma as a major supporter, as well as Alkermes, the maker of a powerful and extremely controversial new painkiller called Zohydrol. The drug, which was released to the public in March, has sparked a nationwide protest, since Zohydrol is reportedly ten times stronger than OxyContin. Janssen Pharmaceutical, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that produces the painkiller Nucynta, and Pfizer, which manufactures several opioid products, are also CADCA sponsors. For corporate donors, CADCA offers a raft of partnership opportunities, including authorized use of the “CADCA logo for your company’s marketing, website, and advertising materials, etc.”

The article goes on to point out how these groups have taken a hard line against marijuana reform but have notably refused to sign on to some efforts to make the most addictive prescriptions drugs more difficult to obtain.

After reading this article it is worth drawing attention to the interesting correlation between medical marijuana states and prescriptions for opioid pain relievers. On average opioid prescription rates are noticeably lower in states that have medical marijuana laws. Of course correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation.

That said, it is also worth noting for-profit companies rarely give significant sums of money to politically active groups purely out of the goodness of their hearts.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

Photo by Sharyn Morrow under Creative Commons license