Earlier this year, the DEA approved a proposal by a major pharmaceutical company to produce a synthetic marijuana product. It later came out that the pharmaceutical company had repeatedly opposed efforts to legalize marijuana.
Insys Therapeutics began the process of getting their synthetic marijuana product, known as Syndros, approved by the DEA back in 2016. They asked that the agency change the Syndros' classification to a Class II narcotic, meaning it would be allowed in certain medical circumstances, unlike marijuana which is a Class I narcotic. The DEA approved their proposal last March, and Insys launched the drug a little over a month ago.
It's ironic that Insys would work so hard to get a synthetic marijuana product approved by the DEA because they've opposed cannabis legalization at nearly every turn. In 2011, Insys wrote a letter to the DEA asking them to keep non-synthetic forms of marijuana classified as a Schedule I narcotic, arguing in favor of “a longstanding policy of the United States to disfavor domestic cultivation of narcotic raw materials because of concerns about the abuse potential from farming of this material.”
Last year, Insys donated $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, an organization that opposed Proposition 205 that would legalize marijuana that appeared on the November 2016 ballot. The initiative eventually failed.
It's not entirely surprising that Insys would oppose legalizing marijuana while pushing for synthetic versions to receive lowered narcotics classifications. Legalizing marijuana would allow consumers to purchase cannabis products from any dispensary, meaning they'd be less likely to purchase Syndros and similar Insys products. So the company fights against legalizing "non-synthetic" marijuana while pushing to get their products approved by the government.
And the DEA can continue to its crusade against cannabis and say it has no medical benefit while allowing synthetic marijuana onto the market is beyond hypocritical. Turns out as long as you have Big Pharma money, you can get the government to do whatever you want.