Sinister Bedfellows: Amid Arizona Marijuana Legalization Fight, Major Opioid Maker Donates To Opponents

Sunset in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona.

Strange Bedfellows: Maker Of Opioid That Has Killed Thousands Donates To Anti-Weed Lobbying Groups

They say “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but oh boy does that ever make for some weird friends when it comes to politics. And especially when it comes to the politics of marijuana legalization.

The landscape around marijuana is already so topsy-turvy, so filled with Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka land mines that it is almost impossible to navigate without losing your mind; the insane things people have been propagandized with for so many decades have calcified brains.

But now some truly weird, truly disturbing things are coming out about the battle to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Arizona, in the form of an opponent to the bill, a company called Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

If you’ve never heard of them, you’re forgiven; they like it that way and they quite deliberately try to keep their name out of the spotlight.

That’s because Insys is the maker of the dangerous and deadly opioid drug fentanyl. Yes, that fentanyl, deaths from which have risen over 600 percent in the last two years.

It is the same drug that felled Prince, and heroin users are finding out about the hard way, as dealers cut the powerful drug into their illicit drug in order to increase apparent potency and boost sales. The problem is that fentanyl is 60 times more powerful than heroin, and so it has caused numerous overdoses and deaths in recent months.

Fentanyl is also turning up as an ingredient in counterfeit prescription pills, and has caused thousands more overdoses that way.

Insys made the news another time a few months back, when two of its employees pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a kickback scheme where the company was accused of plying doctors to prescribe a sublingual version of fentanyl for off-label uses and to patients who didn’t need it, in order to boost sales.

Pro-legalization spokesmen called for the deliciously named anti-pot group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy to return Insys’s dirty money.

“We are truly shocked by our opponents’ decision to keep a donation from what appears to be one of the more unscrupulous members of Big Pharma,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the pro-legalization group Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

One more funny thing about Insys that is certainly just a coincidence: from 2011 until 2015 the company made and sold a generic version Marinol, the synthetic THC used to treat cancer and HIV-related symptoms. While they have no plans to resume sales of that drug, they are readying a new version.

Here’s a pro-tip for the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy: if the enemy of your enemy is completely venal and evil, then maybe you’re on the wrong side.

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