Big Pharma Trying To Get In The Medical Marijuana Business


Photo: Real News Reporter
Big Pharma’s done such a good job being “consumer-friendly” and altruistic with all those other medications — why not let them in on Colorado’s medical marijuana market as well? (Yes, that is sarcasm.)

‚ÄčA new Colorado law signed last week is causing lots of concern in the medical marijuana community — and given the track record of Big Pharma for throwing their weight around and buying politicians, there is plenty of cause for concern.
One clause of HB 1043, the “medical marijuana cleanup bill” signed by Governor John Hickenlooper last week, contains a potential loophole allowing out-of-state firms to get involved in the industry outside of dispensaries and grow operations, reports Michael Roberts at Denver Westword.

Here’s the language that has some folks worried:
A medical marijuana center may provide a sample of its products to a laboratory that has an occupational license from the state licensing authority for testing and research purposes. The laboratory may develop, test, and produce medical marijuana-based products.

Photo: Westword
Rep. Tom Massey, co-sponsor of HB 1043

‚ÄčOne of the main goals of Tom Massey, one of the bill’s co-spsonrs, was to allow the expansion of medical marijuana analytical lab facilities in the state. Massey told Westword back in January that he wanted to “create a venue where we can have testing facilities and labs and also encourage that those be utilized for research and development and product testing. Since we can’t get data from the federal government on this, we need to be proactive in this state — and Colorado is on the cutting edge of this industry.”
But one line of 1043 doesn’t just say “test” or “develop”… it also says “produce,” and there’s the rub. That could conceivably create a national industry, especially if and when laws change on the national level. But, asks, Westword, what rules would govern these labs, and where would they get their marijuana? That’s spelled out in the language of 1043:
The laboratory may contract method or product development with a licensed medical marijuana center or licensed medical marijuana infused-product manufacturer. The state licensing authority shall promulgate rules pursuant to its authority in section 12-43.3-202(1) (b), C.R.S., related to acceptable testing and research practices, including but not limited to testing, standards, quality control analysis, equipment certification and calibration, and chemical identification and other substances used in bona-fide research methods.
It sounds as if cannabis labs would be licensed much as are other testing facilities. As for those who could be approved to open and operate such labs, the bill says:
A laboratory that has an occupational license from the state licensing authority for testing purposes shall not have any interest in a licensed medical marijuana center or a licensed medical marijuana-infused products manufacturer.
Did you get that? HB 1043 specifically prohibits any current dispensary owners or infused product manufacturers from being licensed to run a lab. And since there don’t seem to be any residency requirements, the bill seems to open the door to big national companies to come into Colorado, launch such businesses and begin product development.
While that might allow Colorado to become the center of medical marijuana research and development, it could also freeze those who have founded the state’s medicinal cannabis industry out of the next phase. And open it to you-know-who.
Read the original story at Westword here.