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December 3rd, 2016

Max’s View

Prescription Thugs
***1/2
It won’t be long before marijuana is legal in almost every part of the United States.

Politicians will bravely vote to legalize it because they care about freedom and public safety. Hahahahahahaha. Sorry. Sorry. Only joking.

The real reason marijuana will be legal is money.

The pot dispensaries in Colorado and Washington are raking in cash. As soon as they are allowed to accept credit cards and deposit their revenue in banks like other stores, they will make a lot more money.

Soon, the best weed stores will be bought out by corporations. And those corporations will pay off legislators on the state and national level to legalize marijuana. Then it will only be a matter of time before you see Woody Harrelson selling “Woody’s Wacky Tobacky” on a commercial during the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

If you’re thinking that it’s a bad idea to let corporations sell drugs using TV ads, you’re right. And documentarian Chris Bell, director of “Prescription Thugs”, definitely agrees with you.

Chris Bell sites 1983 as the year everything went downhill for the American pharmaceutical industry. That was the year that Washington decided to allow drug commercials for the first time.

The FDA and Congress were flooded with letters from concerned citizens urging them not to let drug companies become heartless profiteers like other corporations. These letters were from the CEOs of the drug companies themselves.

A generation later, all of the CEOs’ worst fears have come true. While most of us say “no” illegal drugs, the majority of us say “yes, please” to the legal ones. Before I wrote this paragraph, I walked to the kitchen to take my three morning pills. Seriously.

Of every 100 pills produced on planet earth, 75 are consumed by Americans. The greatest drug kingpins in the world aren’t escaping Mexican prison, they are leading Dow 30 companies.

“Prescription Thugs” observes that big pharma promises quick fixes to all of mankind’s problems and then makes sure that there are free samples at your doctor’s office to get you hooked.

Feeling sad? Take a pill. High cholesterol? Take a pill. The film argues that statin drugs are bogus and don’t save lives. A former big pharma rep says that the most notable thing that Pfizer’s top selling pill Lipitor does is make male patients less potent. Conveniently, Pfizer’s second best-selling pill is Viagra.

Another reason there are so many new legal drugs on the market is that the FDA screening process has become a joke. All a company has to do is present two studies in which its new drug has the intended effects. If there are 56 competing studies in which the drug didn’t work or had horrific side effects, Merck can just sweep those under the rug.

And don’t expect the system to be reformed any time soon. Big pharma spends $130,000,000 on Washington lobbying annually. That’s a quarter of a million dollars per congressman.

Chris Bell (“Bigger Stronger Faster”) is my favorite documentarian. He is reasonable, unideological, and non-judgmental. Even though he reveals that he is addicted to prescription drugs and his older brother dies from an overdose during the movie, Bell never points fingers or shirks his own personal responsibility.

I agree with “Prescription Thugs”. There are too many pills in this country right now. And there is plenty of blame to go around and no easy answer.

Getting all of those drug ads off television would be a darn good start, though.

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