The Martin Shkreli Controversy

David McDonald

David McDonald

David is a 19-year-old Canadian student currently attending the University of Guelph. He currently studies Public Management and economics with hopes of one day becoming an accomplished journalist. David enjoys reporting on global events and actively try to make a difference in the world.
David McDonald
Is Shkreli really the ‘evil’ price manipulator that the media has painted him as, or does he truly have good intentions? Photographs by Nigel Parry.

Overview

Martin Shkreli made headlines in 2015 after he raised the price of his company’s drug ‘Daraprim’ by a staggering 5000%, which raised the price of $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. The media has painted Shkreli as a “smug, evil, and unapologetic” price manipulator who wants nothing more than to become rich while others suffer.

 

But is this true?

 

Shkreli’s Early Life

Shkreli was an academically gifted child. He skipped several grades and began investing in the stock market as early as age twelve. After realizing his academic talent, his parents sent him to Hunter College High School, a public school for gifted kids in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

 

From there, Shkreli received an internship at Cramer, Berkowitz &Co. – a hedge fund managed by Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money. During his time with Berkowitz & Co. Shkreli engaged in several investment opportunities, one of which brought the company millions in revenue after he predicted a stock shortage of a biotech company.

 

At 21, Shkreli struck out and got a job with another hedge, fund, Intrepid. His time with Intrepid did not last long, however, and he seen received a $2 million investment and launched his own hedge fund – which is a remarkable feat for anyone. However, the fund was not successful, and Shkreli has been quoted saying “It’s basically impossible to be a great investor in your 20s. I haven’t met many people who have really accrued enough knowledge to do it… And running a hedge fund requires you to be more than a good investor.. I would say the fund was almost more of an experiment,”

 

Shkreli goes into the Pharmaceutical Industry

By 2010, Shkreli had been making money off the pharmaceutical and biotech industry for a decade. He knew the industry and decided to found his own company, Retrophin, in 2010.

 

Shkreli has a rare knack for understanding complex medical trials despite having never attended medical school, and people say it’s one of the things that sets him apart. “He has a very scientific mind,” Ed Painter, the head of investor relations at Turing told me. “He’s smart and he knows the science as well as the PhDs working for him.” “You give him a science textbook on chemistry, he’d give it back to you in nine months and he’d have it memorized,” one early investor in Shkreli’s first drug company, Retrophin, anonymously told the New York Times. “He’s a sponge for information.”

 

During his time at Retrophin, Shkreli was no stranger to controversy. Allegations surfaced , stating that Shkreli has used company assets to resolve legal claims against himself and MSMB.
Shkreli’s financial escapades at Retrophin involved payouts of millions of dollars and the transfer of hundreds of thousands of shares of Retrophin stock, the company alleged. The transactions sparked a wave of civil lawsuits and a federal investigation of Shkreli by the United State’s Attorney’s Office, Bloomberg reported.

In August, Retrophin launched a $65 million lawsuit alleging that Shkreli created the biotech company and took it public solely to provide stock to his hedge fund investors at MSMB when the fund became insolvent, Forbes reported. All accusations were later dropped.

 

Shkreli gets fired and starts Turing Pharmaceuticals

Shkreli told the Hustle that he, “routinely fought with the board (at Retrophin) and was very dismissive of them, but it was really difficult for someone who has $3-4 million shares of the stock to be ousted by someone who owns no stock,” … “But Aselage asked them to fire me and got them to agree… I could have fought it, but I decided it would be better to succeed without them.”

 

It was during his time at Turing that Shkreli decided to purchase the drug, Daraprim, which treats a serious parasite infection (toxoplasmosis) of the body, brain, or eye or to prevent toxoplasmosis infection in people with HIV infection.

 

Shkreli’s decision to jack up the price of Daraprim was made out of ‘seemingly’ good intentions

 

Turing’s price hike was completely legal, and was seemingly done out of good intentions, let me explain.

 

Shkreli has stated that the company needs to earn back some of the $55 million it spent to purchase the drug. He also said that the 2,000 or so current Daraprim patients need a better drug, and that takes Research and Development, which if you didn’t know, is extremely costly.

 

So costly, that developing a new drug has been estimated to cost upwards of $2.5 billion US dollars.

 

But do Daraprim users really need a better drug? Well, according to Shkreli, two people died last year because the drug did not work for them – a statistic that pushed him to raise the price for Daraprim.

 

Although he has been quoted saying the price hike was made to fund a new drug, I could not find any evidence to prove this.

 

What I can prove is that even though the drug is more expensive, users can still access it because Turing Pharmaceuticals gives away six of every ten bottles for free, or for a dollar a pill.

 

Nancy Retzlaff, Turing’s chief commercial officer, also said Turing invests “60 percent of [their’ net revenues” in research and development for a “better, safer, and more effective version of Daraprim” – Martin Shkreli.

 

So what happens to the other four bottles of Daraprim that are sold?

 

Shkreli Insists it isn’t individuals who are paying more for the drug, but rather, insurance companies

The other four out of ten bottles are purchased by insurance companies that provide hospitals and pharmacies with the medication – they are the people paying more for the drug, not the average consumer.

 

Documents reveal that initially, hospitals and patients had difficulty accessing the drug because of the hikes, but Shkreli says that by making smaller formats for hospitals and capping patients insurance payments at $10 per month, those problems were resolved, and the hospitals maintained a healthy inventory of the drug.

 

To recap:
1. The existing drug is currently underperforming, and people are dying because of this. Shkreli wants to make a new, better one.
2. Shkreli’s company needs money to do research on that.
3. Shkreli raises the existing, drug’s price so that he can make money for research and development
4. Insurance companies have to pay for that increase.
5. Patients are not paying for it, and they are still getting it. Some get it for free.

 

So, Is Martin Shkreli really the evil price manipulator that the media has labelled him as? Or, is he a savvy businessman who raised the price of Daraprim in order to create a better, more reliable drug? You decide

There are two ways to see all of this
  1. Shkreli is a bad guy, a kind of pharmaceutical bandit.
  2. Shkreli is a good guy who wants to create a better drug – or at least a good businessman.
Personally, I see him as a little bit of both. It takes a ballsy person to raise the price of a life-saving drug by 5000 percent, and still say you are doing people a service because someday, you will release a better drug.

 

The thing is, people don’t need a better drug right now, they need access to Daraprim. And the two people that died because the drug was not good enough is most likely much lower than the number of people who cannot access it because of the price.

 

Although 60% of Daraprim users get the drug for basically nothing, there are still a number of people who cannot get access to it, or must wait weeks for access.

 

The demand for the drug, however, is relatively low, with only 2,000 people in the US that actually need it on an annual basis.

 

Say what you want about Martin Shkreli, the guy understands how to make money and influence markets. The mainstream media may fabricate this story as a man’s evil lust for becoming rich, but the reality behind it is that Shkreli is one of many price manipulators in a dirty pharmaceutical industry.

 

What he has done has been accomplished time and time again, and just like any other product, the pharmaceutical industry is just that: an industry. And where there is money to be made, someone will step in and make money – in this case, Shkreli’s rise to wealth is indeed, not the most ethical approach, but if his plan works out, the 2,000 annual Daraprim users in the US will soon have a better, more effective drug due to the price hike of Daraprim.

 

We definitely haven’t heard the last from Martin Shkreli.

The Golden Triangle: Highlighting the Second-Largest Opium-Producing Region on the Planet

David McDonald

David McDonald

David is a 19-year-old Canadian student currently attending the University of Guelph. He currently studies Public Management and economics with hopes of one day becoming an accomplished journalist. David enjoys reporting on global events and actively try to make a difference in the world.
David McDonald

Overview

The Golden Triangle; a name synonymous with violence, illegal drug cultivation, and trafficking, as well as an economic crutch for the impoverished citizens living in and around this infamous region.
 The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is a region overlapping the rural mountains of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. It is Southeast Asia’s primary opium-producing area, accounting for nearly a quarter of the world’s opium This makes the Golden Triangle the second largest opium producer, after Afghanistan.
Opium poppy cultivation in the region has tripled since 2006 and remains the primary means of subsistence — and the drug of choice — for farmers in many parts of rural Myanmar and Laos, according to a new UN report.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that cultivation in the two countries rose marginally this year, up to 63,800 hectares from 61,200 hectares in 2013. The vast majority of that production — which yielded an estimated 762 tons of opium and, after refinement, 76 tons of heroin — took place in Myanmar’s Shan state.
The Golden Triangle’s rural, mountainous landscape is poorly patrolled and mainly governed by armed rebel groups who have interests in the opium trade, making it difficult for the military’s and governments of the region to intervene. Golden triangle governments intervene by deploying their own militaries to the region. However, state-backed militia members often traffic drugs themselves and enjoy legal immunity from prosecution.
Corruption and violence plague the poorer south-eastern nations, which makes cracking down on opium trade a daunting task, especially when militaries are being bought off. This poses an issue: How will these areas go about fighting against illegal opium trade within the ‘Golden Triangle’?

How Did the Golden Triangle Emerge?

Along with Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent, the region has been one of the most extensive opium-producing areas of Asia and of the world since the 1950s. Most of the world’s heroin came from the Golden Triangle until the early 21st century when Afghanistan became the world’s largest producer.
Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand are all historically poor countries with little industrialization and nation-wide poverty.
GDP Per Capita for Thailand Myanmar and Afghanistan
If we look at GDP per capita ($US) from 1960 onward, we can see that the three top opium producers in the world, (LAO, Myanmar, Afghanistan) are barely above the global poverty line set at $700 a year per person. Given this, it is not surprising that these countries are producing so much opium. The drug itself is easy to grow, but to be profitable, it requires a lot of land that cannot be accessed regularly by authorities – something that is abundant within the triangle.
Residents of these regions can make a living farming regular goods, but with authorities hesitant to take action, it is more profitable for them to keep cultivating opium. The average household in Myanmar not growing opium poppies in 2014 earned around $1,730, those who grew poppies made about 15 percent more —$2,040 according to the UN’s estimate. When you consider that 37 percent of the nation’s population are unemployed and an average of 26 percent live in poverty, it is hard to blame them for cultivating opium in the first place.

“These are extremely poor areas of Myanmar,” Jeremy Douglas, UNODC’s representative in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, told VICE News. “Until those people get better connected to a large development plan, they aren’t going to have much chance to move away from this economy.”

Even with Opium Cultivation Illegal in the Region, Why Does Production Persist?

The economies of Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos have been struggling for years now. They lack any major industries that can support a workforce, which forces many citizens to partake in opium production. Opium exports account for an estimated $1- $2 billion dollars per year in Myanmar alone, making them the country’s second-largest export after petroleum gas. Thailand and Lao, on the other hand, are more invested in the trafficking of the drugs rather than the cultivation.
Illegal opium production within the golden triangle
We can visualize this with the graph above, which depicts Myanmar as the leading producer of opium, with Lao PDR behind. We can also see how poppy cultivation in the country decreased more than 80 percent from 1998 to 2006 following an eradication campaign in the Golden Triangle. The number of hectares used to grow the crops increased 29% in 2007, and has continued with steady growth up until the past three years, where growth has, “stabilized”.
The reasons for this surge in opium production? A United Nations report cites corruption, poverty and a lack of government control as causes for the jump.
In an interview conducted by the UN, Jason Eligh, a UNODC Myanmar country manager, explained, “At the root of the problem are conflict and poverty. This is exacerbated by poor access for farmers to arable land, in many cases due to land confiscation schemes, and spiralling household debt as a result of farmers borrowing money from informal lenders at high rates of interest and being unable to meet the harsh repayment terms.”
He goes on further to explain how, “Myanmar has no domestic chemical industry, but is located between two of the world’s largest in China and India. Myanmar would not have a thriving domestic drug industry without massive amounts of precursor chemicals. Acetic anhydride is the chemical necessary to transform opium into heroin, and ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are significant chemical components for the production of methamphetamine.”
Thus, the smuggling of these chemicals into Myanmar from neighboring states is a significant enabler for the industrial scale illicit drug production found in the country. Furthermore, the role that armed militia groups play in protecting the region is huge. Although there are military’s established around the region, setting foot on poppy production land could cost many lives – something the Myanmar government would like to avoid.
Another origin of the rise of opium production in the area can be attributed to the rise in demand for heroin within south-east Asia and around the globe.

What Does the Future Hold For This Region?

Although growth has stabilized in recent years, illegal opium production will continue to persist unless they see foreign government and militia intervention. There is simply too much corruption and a glaring lack of any economic or social structure that will allow for another cease of opium production like what we saw in the 1990’s.
Since the nationwide eradication effort that saw an 86 percent fall in cultivation between 1998 and 2006, poppy growing in Myanmar remains below the peak it reached in the mid and late 1990s, and it shows no signs of stopping.
Currently, the economy of Myanmar is not offering many other means of a healthy way of life for these people, which is why so many have shifted to opium production. And with police forces engaging in actual smuggling of the drugs, there seems to be little to no resistance at this point.
Today, the largest organized resistance to the Golden Triangle’s narco-trade is a Christian vigilante group called Pat Japan. They claim roughly 100,000 members and are known for extreme confrontational measures, like flogging drug addicts and hacking down poppy fields.

And even though Pat Japan’s goals do align with those of Western governments, the group doesn’t receive any foreign funding, leaving them largely powerless.
Opium production within the Golden Triangle shows no signs of slowing down, which can only mean one thing: A higher supply of heroin on the global market, and lower prices for opium-based illicit drugs.

The Canadian illicit drug market has been infested with fentanyl-laced drugs, and people are dying because of it

David McDonald

David McDonald

David is a 19-year-old Canadian student currently attending the University of Guelph. He currently studies Public Management and economics with hopes of one day becoming an accomplished journalist. David enjoys reporting on global events and actively try to make a difference in the world.
David McDonald

Introduction

September is a great month. Football season starts back up, and schools back in semester, which means no more nagging from my mom to do my laundry or my dishes. Times are good.
But with the beginning of each new school year means concerned parents and an equally uninhibited youth that are willing to try a basket of new drugs coming their way in this new school year.
Parents, teachers, and emergency responders are all very aware of the risks of drugs, and even though we have all promised in our D.A.R.E booklets that we will “not do drugs,” these harmful substances still manage to sneak their way into our dorm rooms and lockers.
As a nineteen year old university student, I am not against drugs. Personally, I believe several illegal drugs hold the capability to eliminate various mental health illnesses and open your mind to completely new realms of interpretation and possibilities.With that being said, I still take my precautions when deciding whether or not to try a new drug because I am fully aware of the risks at hand.
But although I am educated on drugs, risks still remain a considerable threat when trying a new substance, or even a trusted substance, because you never know where it is coming from, and what is being injected into it.

Fentanyl is being laced with popular street drugs and is has recently snuck its way into the Canadian drug market

Many have never heard of the drug, and many who overdose from it, don’t even know it’s there.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate narcotic, a prescription drug used primarily for cancer patients in severe pain.
Since the discontinuation of popular street drug, Oxycontin, opioid abusers have been looking for a new drug to consume. Many switched over to heroin because the formula in oxycontin kept changing, making the pill harder to crush, and the effects take longer to set in, making it harder to get high.
With these two setbacks for abusers, they needed something more.
This is where Fentanyl came into the picture.
The drug has been used for about 20-30 years to treat cancer patients has recently snuck onto the Canadian drug scene, causing over 1000 deaths since 2009.
In the grand scheme of things, this may not seem like a sizeable figure, but the concern lies with the possibility of this drug being manufactured into more common street drugs that can land in the hands of many more consumers.
You may be asking, why and how has fentanyl become an issue in Canada?
Well, as previously discussed, with the discontinuation of oxycontin, there has been a growing demand for a strong opioid like fentanyl. But even more concerning is the fact that this drug is cheaper than heroin and is easier to smuggle because there isn’t as much publicity surrounding the narcotic.
Furthermore, what makes this drug so enticing to producers is the fact that it is estimated to be 100 times more powerful than morphine, and up to 50 times more potent than heroin.
These numbers are staggering, and explain why the number of overdoses have steadily increased in Canada since it’s introduction into the mainstream drug scene.
What you’re reading may be quite obvious; drugs have an will continue to be laced with more powerful narcotics, so users must proceed with caution.
But the thing is, fentanyl is more potent than anything we have ever seen, and consumers need to be aware of the potential risks, risks that are amplified than what we have previously seen.
The potency of this drug recently led to nine people overdosing over a 20-minute period in Delta, British Columbia. Delta police stated that fentanyl was most likely laced in the cocaine that the nine people ingested, and if this is the case, it is certainly the reason why these people died.

Although Fentanyl abuse in Canada began in B.C, the drug has since migrated into every province, and is currently the leading cause of Opioid deaths in Ontario

This is precisely why I am writing this article. As a university student, I am more than likely to come in contact with illicit drugs, as are many of my peers.
With one-third of opioid overdoses in Alberta being attributed to fentanyl, the risks are only increasing in each province, especially Ontario, which has a history of drug accessibility and overdoses.
Research on this subject is scarce, but a 2014 figure shows that fentanyl accounted for one in every four opioid overdoses in Ontario, a number that shows no signs of slowing down.
These facts have been raising concerns among Ontarians, and for good reason. As stated by Delta police officer Neil Dubord, “We know that fentanyl is very cheap, and when you’re using it to cut cocaine, to buff cocaine, you’re getting a lot more product without having to use a lot more cocaine.”
Producers have been enticed to lace cocaine, heroin, and various other drugs with fentanyl, because the product is cheaper, and they can use less of it due to its potency, which has people worried.



“There’s a good chance that we’re on the leading edge of a ruinous surge in heroin and fentanyl-related deaths in Ontario,” – David Juurlink
As various surveys show, illicit drug use is still highly common in Ontario, with more and more youth users being attributed to overdoses.
With fentanyl being the cheapest, more powerful alternative, it is giving rise to concern for many Ontarians.

Despite rising concern attributed to fentanyl distribution in Ontario, there are medications ready to counteract an overdose

Alberta and B.C. have taken the largest precautions in addressing the fentanyl crisis. In Alberta Health Services announced there will be expanded access to take-home naloxone kits. Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse a fentanyl overdose.
Alberta Health is funding the distribution of 4,000 kits, and providing a mandatory training session that lasts between 10 and 15 minutes.
Twenty-nine walk-in clinics and eight existing harm reduction sites will receive the kits, along with the required prescription and training session.

The naloxone kits contain:

Instructions on how and when to administer the drug;
Two vials of naloxone;
Syringes;
An alcohol swab;
Latex gloves;
A one-way rescue breathing mask.
Ontario should follow suit and prepare for future overdose situations.
As previously mentioned, a large portion of drug consumption in Ontario will be with the youth. This means high schools, colleges, and universities will have access to illicit drugs (something we all know) so these facilities should have the naloxone kits in order to treat a possible fentanyl overdose.
Something like this is hard to do however. Asking the province to distribute naloxone kits to educational facilities across Ontario is a considerable task when you take into count that fentanyl is not currently scheduled as an epidemic.
But if we to avoid an overdose epidemic, this is a precaution the province must take.

 

Cocaine will not stop flowing into Canada. The same can be said for heroin, Oxycodone, marijuana, and various other drugs, but now, the issue has elevated into something much more dangerous; fentanyl will continue to be cut into these popular drugs and be distributed throughout the provinces into the hands of the youth, and nobody will even know it’s there.
 

Why Was Marijuana Made Illegal?

David McDonald

David McDonald

David is a 19-year-old Canadian student currently attending the University of Guelph. He currently studies Public Management and economics with hopes of one day becoming an accomplished journalist. David enjoys reporting on global events and actively try to make a difference in the world.
David McDonald
By: David McDonald

 

The history of marijuana (or cannabis/THC) stems back around 10,000 years and is widely recognized as one of the most useful plants on the planet. Yet, it was made illegal in the United States in the early 20th century due to political and economic factors.

 

History of The Drug

Let’s get one thing clear, marijuana was not made illegal because it caused “insanity, criminality, and death” – Harry J. Aslinger. It was made illegal in an attempt to control Mexican immigration into the United States, and to help boost the profits of large pharmaceutical companies.
The plant has been used for almost 10,000 years by humans in order to make clothing and pottery, but its first direct reference to a cannabis product as a psychoactive agent dates from 2737 BC, in the writings of the Chinese emperor Shen Nung. The focus was on its healing powers, primarily how it healed diseases such as malaria and even absent-mindlessness. The plant was used recreationally by Indians and Muslims as well.

Marijuana in America

The drug was introduced to America by the Spanish in 1545 where it became a major commercial force where it was grown alongside tobacco. Farmers grew hemp instead of cannabis (a form of the plant that is very low in THC) and by 1890 it had replaced cotton as the major cash crop in southern states.
Hemp continued to flourish in the States until the 1910’s when Mexicans began popularizing the recreational use of cannabis. At the time, cannabis was not primarily used for its psychoactive effects. Many white U.S. citizens did not like the fact that Mexicans were smoking the plant and they soon demonized the drug.
Around 1910, the Mexican Revolution was starting to boil over, and many Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. to escape the conflict. This Mexican population had its own uses for cannabis, and they referred to it as “marihuana.” Not only did they use it for medicinal purposes, but they smoked it recreationally, which was a new concept for white Americans. U.S. politicians quickly jumped to the opportunity to label cannabis, “marihuana” in order to give it a bad rep – and it worked. Southern states became worried about the dangers this drug would bring and newspapers began calling Mexican cannabis use a “marijuana menace”.
During the 1920’s there were many anti-marijuana campaigns conducted to raise awareness about the many harmful effects that the drug caused. These campaigns included radical claims that stated how marijuana turned users into killers and drug addicts, which were all obviously fake and made up in an attempt to get rid of Mexican immigrants.
 
“A widow and her four children have been driven insane by eating the Marihuana plant, according to doctors, who say that there is no hope of saving the children’s lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life,” read a New York Times story from 1927. It was clear the newspapers and tabloids were building a campaign against the plant, and much of it has been said to be based on racist ideologies against Mexican immigrants.
The ‘war against marijuana’ arguably began in 1930, where a new division in the Treasury Department was established — the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — and Harry J. Anslinger was named director. This, if anything, marked the beginning of the all-out war against marijuana.
Aslinger realized that opiates and cocaine would not be enough to build this agency, so he turned towards marijuana and worked relentlessly to make it illegal on a federal level. Some anti-marijuana quotes from Aslinger’s agency read:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

“Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”

“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
Yes, every single one of these claims are radically outrageous, but they worked.
[Harry Anslinger got some additional help from William Randolf Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst had lots of reasons to help. First, he hated Mexicans. Second, he had invested heavily in the timber industry to support his newspaper chain and didn’t want to see the development of hemp paper in competition. Third, he had lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa, so he hated Mexicans. Fourth, telling lurid lies about Mexicans (and the devil marijuana weed causing violence) sold newspapers, making him rich. (1)]
The two were then supported by the Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Pharmaceutical companies were on board with this because they could not standardize cannabis dosages, and not to mention, people could grow it themselves. They knew how versatile the plant was in treating a wide range of medical conditions and that meant a massive loss in profits. So, these U.S. economic and political powerhouses teamed up to form a great little act called: The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
This act testified to the many harmful effects of marijuana, which was obviously opposed by many. But it was ultimately the committee chairman who got this act passed in congress. He decided that, “High school boys and girls buy the destructive weed without knowledge of its capacity of harm, and conscienceless dealers sell it with impunity. This is a national problem, and it must have national attention. The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug, and American children must be protected against it.”
And there you have it, 1937 marks the year where marijuana became illegal in the United States. Of America.
Recap: a man by the name of Harry Aslinger became the director of the newly established department in the treasure of the U.S. – the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Aslinger teamed up with William Randolf Hearst (a newspaper company owner) and some big time pharmaceutical companies and together, they launched an anti-marijuana campaign in order to profit off of manufactured medicine, and deport thousands of mexicans. Marijuana was not made illegal because of its negative health impacts. It was these men who manipulated the public into believing the herb was deadly, and their impacts are still felt even today.
The war against marijuana intensified in 1970, where the Controlled Substances Act was passed. During this time, marijuana along with heroin and LSD were listed as schedule 1 drugs (having the highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use). Obviously this goes against thousands of years of human knowledge where it was widely known that cannabis was one of the most beneficial herbs on the face of the planet in terms of fighting disease. Yet, the U.S. congress decided to ignore history in order to benefit the big pharmaceutical companies who make billions annually off of selling cheaply manufactured medicine that gives people diseases such as cancer ( which can be cured by marijuana).
The “zero tolerance” climate of the Reagan and Bush administrations resulted in passage of strict laws and mandatory sentences for possession of marijuana and in heightened vigilance against smuggling at the southern borders. The “war on drugs” thus brought with it a shift from reliance on imported supplies to domestic cultivation.
It wasn’t until 1996 when California legalized marijuana for medical use, where Alaska, Oregon, and Washington soon followed. However, it has taken well over a decade for marijuana to reach recreational legalization in these states. Today, only 25 U.S. states have legalized marijuana to some extent, with only Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington having legal recreational marijuana.
With all this being said, the future for marijuana is looking very bright. Marijuana advocates believe there is a chance for at least eleven more states to legalize recreational marijuana in the near term, which would be a huge leap forward in the grand scheme of things.
It has taken far too long to break the stigma attached to marijuana. Yes, like any drug, it can be abused. But to ignore it’s obvious health benefits in order to maintain large scale pharmaceutical operations and a monopoly on the health industry is ludicrous.
The American public has spoken. They want this drug legalized recreationally in every state, not because they want to get high, but because they want to support something natural, something that can be grown in the ground and used to benefit many areas of society ranging from manufacturing, to healthcare, to recreational uses.
 
The history of marijuana is truly a long and interesting one, but it’s future (especially in the U.S.) is one that will bring a completely new dynamic to how Western culture functions, how kids grow up, and how pharmaceutical companies try to maintain their monopoly over the medical world.
All I can hope for as a marijuana supporter is to see as many people enjoying the health benefits it brings, and to see as many joints sparked at the next Wiz Khalifa/Snoop Dogg concert I hope to attend as soon as possible.
Smoke up people!
 
Sources: http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/why-is-marijuana-illegal/ (1)
http://www.attn.com/stories/2116/reason-marijuana-illegal-united-states (2)