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DEA and Big Pharma: The Tangled Web of the Opioid Crisis

By Ralph Morgan

Cannabis Industry leaders and activists are seemingly the only two groups with a sense of urgency to find a reasonable alternative pain remedy to replace synthetic opioids. Pharmaceuticals are responsible for a death every 19 minutes. Big Pharma, in order to preserve pride and profit, is funding opposition to deter cannabis legalization in upcoming elections.  That, in concert with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s announcement earlier this year that it will not reschedule marijuana, shows why industry leaders and cannabis activists are leading the fight against opioid addiction.

I believe the successful ballot initiatives in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada this November will help serve as a catalyst and further launch reform efforts of marijuana laws, ultimately accelerating research to find the solution replacing dangerous opioids with cannabis.

Some may ask how an industry can be responsible for the leading cause of accidental death and still exist, even prosper? Money is a major factor. Big Pharma has the largest lobbying budget of any industry in the world, outspending the next highest by one billion dollars.

The Washington Post reported that a “$500,000 donation earlier this year from Insys Therapeutics, based in Chandler, AZ, amounts to more than one-third of all money raised by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, the group opposing legalization. It’s one of the largest, single contributions to any anti-legalization campaign, according to campaign finance records. Insys has had problems in the past that include a class action lawsuit for offering a kickback scheme to increase off-label prescriptions for their drug Subsys, a pain pill for cancer patients and a product threatened by a natural, less addictive substance like cannabis.”

As incredible as the numbers are, they are understated. The same report also states that GW Pharmaceuticals has paid nothing in lobbying fees to date, which is a hard sell for the company currently leading the marijuana monopoly in the U.S.

Medical Marijuana Research

MJBIZ Daily reported the possibility that more medical research into cannabis “did take a step forward” when the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine began advertising that it’s looking for partners to collaborate on cannabis-related studies.

At least three other major institutions have expressed similar interest, even before the DEA’s August announcement that it won’t reschedule cannabis, but will open more doors to medical research. To date, however, the DEA “hasn’t received” any applications for permits to either conduct MMJ research or to grow cannabis for research purposes.

“To my knowledge, we haven’t had anybody apply yet,” said Melvin Patterson of the DEA public affairs office. “I think people will. They’re just making sure they get their protocol together. There’s a lot of prep work that has to go into that.” Yes, prep work and red tape.

As the U.S. government drags its feet on rescheduling cannabis because it is defined as having no medicinal value, it awarded itself a patent to treat specific ailments. Patent number 6630507 is irony at its finest, and a flagrant example of the bureaucracy that is impeding the cannabis industry and the American ideology of the plant.

This fall, people are experiencing fear with the upcoming elections. There are some scary forces trying to mask the truth about the realities and promising medical efficacy of cannabis. Cannabis doesn’t only threaten Pharma, but it threatens the old guard which is entangled in a web of bureaucracy that controls most of America today.

Marijuana is not only the new American industry, but the new American icon. It represents the people; it represents freedom of choice; and it represents one of the most profound civil right movements of this generation. Marijuana looks, smells, and is freedom.  With so few choices to be proud of this November, I’ll be watching closely as America votes for cannabis.



Ralph Morgan

C.E.O. O.penVAPE









Ralph MorganRalph Morgan

Ralph Morgan

As CEO of O.penVAPE, Ralph Morgan sets direction, strategy and media relations for the world’s largest cannabis company.

A visionary entrepreneur, Morgan’s determination to provide access to cannabis as a safer alternative medicine led to the founding of O.penVAPE.
After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1996, Morgan held several executive and sales positions for health care companies including Smith and Nephew, Stryker Orthopedics and Med1Online.

Foreseeing the many financial and medical benefits of legalized cannabis, Morgan seized the chance to combine his health care experience with his passion to help others and founded O.penVAPE in 2012 alongside four other partners.

Two years prior to O.penVAPE, Morgan founded Organa Labs, the world’s largest and longest running extraction facility. He also opened his first dispensary, Colorado Harvest Company, in the same year with the help of business partner Tim Cullen. Many consider Colorado Harvest Company the most important landmark on Denver’s Green Mile, a one-mile stretch of boulevard with the highest concentration of cannabis shops in the world. Morgan and Cullen own the three Colorado-based dispensaries that, on average, round out each year with approximately 94,000 cash transactions.

In 2015, Ralph accepted the first Trail Blazer Award from High Times Magazine, a publication that has been covering cannabis for 40 years. Today, Morgan is one of the few individuals possessing the depth of knowledge and experience necessary to run a world class organization in the newest American industry. Industry and community leaders, advocacy groups and members of the media seek Morgan’s advice and value his expert insights.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. While I have a MMJ Card…Doctors are denying me Opioids due to positive urinalsys of Cannabis. I am literally stuck in my chair…no pain medicines mean I cant have a normal day. Being stuck in one chair and room for 2 days due to the excruciating pain.

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