Cannabytes: The New Cash Crop

On Tuesday, MSN Money reported that Big Pharma executives want to take advantage of medical marijuana to increase their bottom lines. It’s no secret that cannabis is quickly becoming the next big thing in the business world. An unnamed report cited by MSN Money predicts that “[cannabis] sales will reach $8.9 billion if 20 more states allow its sale for medical use.” This year, according to the article, $250 million in cannabis sales are coming from Colorado.

Pharmaceutical companies, never ones to turn down the opportunity for more profit, are now looking at medical marijuana as a new way to make money. Watson Pharmaceuticals produces a pill called Marinol, a synthetic THC pill which has been available legally for prescription for years–first marketed in 1986. Watson is among the companies most likely to start cultivating cannabis, according to MSN Money.

To supporters of the plant, MSN Money had this to say:

“[Cannabis advocates] wonder why big companies will be able to grow pot, put it in a pill and call it medicine while those who grow it at home or in a city-permitted pot farm face felony charges and jail. Good point. But welcome to the world of big business, where large companies have high-powered lobbyists pleading their cases in Congress every day.”

In other words, pharmaceutical companies have more pull with the federal government than we do. For Big Pharma to be able to produce organic THC/CBD pills, the DEA would need to reduce THC from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug–which Marinol and other synthetic THC pills are. Drug companies have requested this and, says MSN Money, “their wish is likely to be granted.” It seems that profits are a far better motivator for the government than the welfare of its citizens.

And with more and more supporters of the medical use of cannabis, it’s a smart business move to snatch up the fast-growing industry of cannabusiness. Unfortunately, it’s bad for small business owners on a local level. What happens to your local dispensary when Big Pharma can put out massive amounts of this medicine. More importantly, what happens to our push for the federal legalization of our beloved plant when Big Pharma legally produces pills that have the same effect? No more small businesses just trying to help patients get what they need. Another obstacle in the way of legalizing cannabis plants for its other fantastic uses. And plenty of cash in the pockets of CEOs who are concerned more about profit margins than patients’ well-being.

I’m not saying that pharmaceutical companies shouldn’t be allowed to produce medical marijuana. They have every right to–that’s capitalism. But when they bastardize the plant for their own interests and bar competition on a smaller level, patients suffer. Small businesses suffer. We all suffer. Everyone except, of course, Big Pharma.

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