Let’s face it, many of us would need a little extra incentive to spend our careers standing on the wrong side of history. And a whole bunch of leading researchers who are frequently cited by supporters of marijuana prohibition look to be no different, according to a report by investigative journalist Lee Fang: They’re paid by companies that manufacture painkillers.
The academics on Fang’s list include:
*Dr. Herbert Kleber, director of the Substance Abuse Division of Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry. Widely quoted and published by mainstream media, and cited by the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Psychiatric Association to justify anti-pot positions, Kleber has served as a paid consultant for Purdue Pharma, Reckitt Benckiser and Alkermes—the manufacturers of OxyContin, Nurofen and Zohydro, respectively.
*Dr. A. Eden Evins, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and board member of SAM—the anti-legalization organization fronted by Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet. Fang notes a disclosure by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry that Evin, another widely quoted figure, has been a ”consultant for Pfizer and DLA Piper and has received grant/research support from Envivo, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.” Pfizer owns a company that manufactures opioids and is aiming to establish Remoxy as a competitor to OxyContin.
*Dr. Mark L. Kraus, a board member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. In 2012 Kraus submitted testimony against a medical marijuana law in Connecticut. He has been on the scientific advisory panels of pharma companies including Pfizer and Reckitt Benckiser.
A study released this week showed that in the 13 states which passed laws to permit medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010, deaths attributed to opioid overdose (of which there are 16,000 nationally per year) fell 25%. And growing evidence points to the efficacy of marijuana (which has never caused a single overdose death) as an “exit drug,” or substitute for more dangerous substances.
All of which makes the academics’ often-unmentioned financial links awkward, to say the least.