Role of Big Pharma in Marijuana Legalization Since the mid 20th century, the discussion of whether medical or even recreational marijuana should be legalized has been one of the most heated topics on the national level. In the 70s and 80s we saw President Richard Nixon and President Ronald Reagan proposing the War on Drug and making marijuana as the center of their target. In the 90s we saw the trend had started to turn a little when California passed the law to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Coming into the 21st century, President Obama brought up the possibility that each state should decide for themselves whether they should legalize even recreational marijuana. Up until today, 11 states have already passed the law to legalized recreational marijuana. Most activists would agree that we are now in a direction to total legalization and we will be the generation who would actually make that happen. As it turns out, lots of big pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. seems to agree to that too. In the past few years, we have seen more and more pharmaceutical companies coming out and endorse and support marijuana legalization. Some of them even invested huge amount of funds dedicating to the research of development of marijuana. But such gestures have really started to alarm some of the activists since pharmaceutical companies have always been on the opposite side of marijuana legalization. Furthermore, for a significant part of the activists, they dedicated their work to legalization not because they want to get high, but for the healthcare and social justice of themselves or the people they care about. And the participation of profit driven pharmaceutical companies might jeopardize their goal. Although these accusations have yet to be proven, I suggest that the pharmaceutical companies can be very beneficial to the cause of legalization marijuana. Pharmaceutical companies have the resources and money the conduct the researches that are needed to prove marijuana to be medically beneficial and relatively harmless compare to other substances. Eventually these researches will add up and convince the majority in the US to legalize marijuana. For marijuana legalization activists, there is no doubt that the ultimate goal is to fully legalize marijuana on a national level. To achieve this goal, it is very important to persuade the majority of the country to believe that marijuana is medically beneficial and has acceptable side effect to our health. And to accomplish that, legalization activists or anyone who is supporting the legalization of marijuana will have to provide concrete evidence to support their opinions. This is one of the major obstacles in the legalization process because marijuana is listed as one of the Schedule I drugs by the DEA according to the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. And according to the DEA, Schedule I drugs are defined as “Drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” 1 Being in the Schedule I classification also means that it is very hard to legally conduct researches in the US. And for the activists this has always been the problem to push forward the legalization because no matter how many patients we have seen receiving great help from marijuana, they still cannot provide a significant and sound scientific research about marijuana to clear its name. But I believe big pharmaceutical companies can be very helpful on this matter. Big pharma has the money, resources and the motivation to conduct thorough marijuana researches. Marijuana has become one of the most important focus in the pharmaceutical industry because it is expected to perform greatly in the pain management domain and bring other benefits in a series of therapies. The potential of marijuana has attracted pharmaceutical companies to invest billions of dollars into its research. 2 An example of that 1 2 "Drug Scheduling." DEA. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling. "2019's Top Trends in the Pharmaceutical Industry," MasterControl, February 6, 2019, , accessed April 05, 2019, https://www.mastercontrol.com/gxp-lifeline/3-trends-shaping-the-pharma-industry-in-2019/. would be Sandoz. Sandoz, a pharmaceutical giant which conducts business worldwide announced on June 19th, 2018 that they had come to an agreement of collaboration with Tilray, a medical cannabis producer in Canada. This collaboration includes experiments and researches on medical treatment options and different manufacturing standards to adapt different medical conditions. Their plan also includes advocating broader access of marijuana products, increasing product innovation and education. 3 Although this is a collaboration conduct in Canada, the results of these kinds of researches can be brought back and used in the US as evidence and experience to support the marijuana legalization. Pharmaceutical companies such as Sandoz not only have business conduct in the US but all around the world in places where marijuana is legal. Under the Schedule I classification, it is difficult for companies and organizations to acquire cannabis in the US to conduct research with. But the global presence of these pharmaceutical companies provides chances of conducting research elsewhere. According to a joint research between New Frontier Data in the U.S. and Grow Biotech, a British cannabis bio-technology firm, 7 out of the 10 top cannabis patent holders in Canada are pharmaceutical companies. 4 It shows that pharmaceutical companies have incompatible resources in terms of research and development in the field of medical marijuana. It is an advantage that can be used by marijuana activists during the process of legalization in the US. 3 Sandoz Canada. "Sandoz Canada Becomes the First Canadian Pharmaceutical Company to Enter the Medical Cannabis Field." GlobeNewswire News Room. June 19, 2018. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://www.globenewswire.com/newsrelease/2018/06/19/1526336/0/en/Sandoz-Canada-Becomes-the-First-Canadian-Pharmaceutical-Company-to-Enter-theMedical-Cannabis-Field.html. 4 Data, New Frontier. "Big Pharma Collects Most Canadian Cannabis Patents." GlobeNewswire News Room. August 15, 2018. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/08/15/1552656/0/en/Big-PharmaCollects-Most-Canadian-Cannabis-Patents.html. While there is no doubt that useful results generated by researches conducted elsewhere around the globe would benefit the marijuana legalization process, the battle will have to be fought back home as well. As I mentioned above, one of the largest obstacles in the marijuana legalization process is the Schedule I classification. The DEA took a firm stance for decades and refuses to remove marijuana from Schedule I regardless of results from all kinds of researches proving marijuana to be medically beneficial and less harmful than drugs such as heroin and LSD which are also listed as Schedule I drugs. Although it has been a prolong struggle for the activists to persuade the DEA the reschedule marijuana, pharmaceutical company can also be of great help.