Pennsylvania State Republican Representative Matt Baker is a perfect example of what is wrong with politicians. Although the Pennsylvania Senate decisively passed Senate Bill 3 which would legalize medical marijuana and 88% of Pennsylvania voters support legalizing medical marijuana, the bill could be stalled indefinitely if Representative Baker has his way.
The bill has been assigned to the House Health Committee chaired by Representative Baker. Last year, a similar bill died in the Pennsylvania House after being approved by the Senate. Representative Baker recently said that he has no intention to allow his committee to take up the Senate’s bill, or any bill to legalize medical marijuana.
“It is not likely that this bill will be taken up in the foreseeable future at this point in time,” Baker said Friday.
Senate Bill 3 creates a tightly regulated program
Senate Bill 3 is a bipartisan bill spearheaded by Senators Daylin Leach (Democrat) and a Mike Folmer (Republican) that creates a tightly regulated medical marijuana program which bans smoking marijuana and the sale of edibles.
Senate Bill 3 would legalize medical marijuana for patients who suffer from one of 15 specific conditions provided other methods of treatment have not benefited the patient. The conditions include: cancer; epilepsy and seizures; ALS; wasting syndrome; Parkinson’s disease; traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome; multiple sclerosis; SCA; PTSD; severe fibromyalgia; HIV/AIDS; glaucoma; Crohn’s disease; diabetes; and chronic pain.
Representative Baker is a hypocrite
Representative Baker has stated that he will not advance Senate Bill 3 because cannabis is not approved by the FDA. The part I find interesting is that Representative Baker has accepted campaign contributions from multiple pharmaceutical companies who have paid over $1 billion to settle charges for having marketed drugs for uses not approved by the FDA.
Representative Baker’s public campaign finance records show significant contributions from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture drugs that treat many of those qualifying conditions, and would thus profit from the continued prohibition of cannabis based medicine. When breaking down Representative Baker’s public campaign contributions by industry, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry made up the largest percentage of reported contributions, totaling $32,800. When looking at, Baker received several notable individual contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies and drug wholesalers, totaling over $37,000.
- In 1999, Hoffmann-La Roche paid $500 million in criminal fines after pleading guilty to participation in a worldwide conspiracy to raise and fix prices on vitamins sold in the United States and other countries.
- In 2006, Medco Health Solutions was fined $155 million for accepting kickbacks from pharmaceutical manufacturers to favor their drugs, and paid kickbacks to health plans to obtain business.
- In 2010, AstraZeneca paid $520 million to settle allegations that they illegally marketed the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel for uses not approved as safe and effective by the FDA.
- In 2011, Abbott Laboratories agreed to pay at least $1.3 billion for illegally marketing its Depakote epilepsy drug to the U.S. government and 24 states. In 2011, the company pleaded guilty and paid a $500 million fine and $198.5 million forfeiture for illegal marketing. That punishment was due the company’s unlawful promotion of Depakote for uses not approved as safe and effective by the FDA. The FDA approved Depakote for epileptic seizures, bipolar mania and the prevention of migraines. Abbot Laboratories, however, also marketed the drug for schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and PTSD.
- In 2014, Value Drug paid $4 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Controlled Substances Act by failing to report suspicious orders of oxycodone to six pharmacies in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
- AbbVie, Inc., was another contributor to Baker’s campaign. The company markets Marinol, a prescription pill that is made of synthetic THC and is used to help stimulate the appetite of AIDS patients. Marinol is the only US FDA-approved synthetic cannabinoid.
- CVS and Rite Aid also are contributors to Baker’s campaign, neither would be permitted to distribute medical marijuana under Senate Bill 3.
The reality is that state-level legislators are dependent on contribution s to finance costly reelections and as such the interests of corporate contributions will many times outweigh the rationale for legislation that is otherwise in the public’s interest
This is a reality that needs to change! The only way to change this reality is by going out to vote and electing smarter policy makers who will enact smarter policies. Representatives like Matt Baker are the epitome of what is wrong with America today!
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