Medical Cannabis Could Pose $5 Billion a Year Threat to Big Pharma, According to Research
New Frontier Data finds that nationwide medical cannabis legalization would cost the Big Pharma big bucks.
Published on June 21, 2017

With cannabis legalization slowly spreading across the United States, it’s no secret that certain entities are throwing endless stacks of cash to lobby against the plant. One of the biggest enemies to the marijuana movement is Big Pharma, a multi-billion industry that rakes in big bucks to keep the country medicated and sedated. 

Recent findings have helped medical cannabis gain recognition as an increasingly appealing treatment for opioid and benzodiazepine abuse, two highly addictive substances that Big Pharma makes a fortune from. While it’s still relatively unclear exactly how much legal marijuana would impact this massive industry, a new study from New Frontier Data shows why the pharmaceutical sector is so vehemently against going green.

The data analytics company decided to look into what would happen if Americans used medical marijuana instead a prescription pills for nine different illnesses (chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, nerve pain, nausea stemming from chemotherapy, Tourette syndrome, glaucoma, and epilepsy) that are commonly treated with cannabis.

The research found that if pot was federally legalized, Big Pharma could lose out on almost $5 billion per year. In order to reach the estimated number, New Frontier took their findings and contextualized them using a 2016 study from the University of Georgia. This particular analysis showed that the number of drug prescriptions dropped by 11 percent in states where medical marijuana is legal. 

After taking this figure and gathering their own data on how much money is spent on prescription drugs to treat the nine specific conditions, the researchers found that medical cannabis could chip away between $4.4 billion to $4.9 billion from Big Pharma’s annual sales.

Still, with the ambiguous rumblings from the Trump administration, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ anti-cannabis rhetoric, and a GOP-controlled Congress, it’s highly unlikely that medical marijuana will become federally legal anytime soon. However, no matter how things play out in the future, you can surely expect the pharmaceutical industry to do everything in their power to keep cannabis away from patients.              


Tyler Koslow
Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.
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