On Sunday, July 6 The Nation printed an article entitled “The Real Reason Pot is Still Illegal”
in which it brought into question CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America)
and other national prevention and treatment groups for taking corporate donations and entering into partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. The article was picked up by a few other news outlets and I wanted to make sure you heard directly from me about the facts.
The author compares prescription drugs, particularly opioid pain medications, and marijuana, suggesting that pharmaceutical companies are supporting our work because the medicalization of pot represents a threat to their bottom line. The author also suggests that CADCA is not doing enough to battle opioid abuse, because we receive some funding from pharmaceutical companies. In fact, just the opposite is the case – our funding from the industry allows us to help offset the costs of our two major training events and to develop a number of products and initiatives designed to prevent and reduce medicine abuse. In total, support from the over-the-counter and pharmaceutical medicine industries combined is less than 7 percent of CADCA’s revenue. CADCA believes that the industry has a responsibility to help address and mitigate the complex issues surrounding our nation’s tragic prescription drug abuse crisis.
However, CADCA’s positions are not influenced by any outside organization. CADCA takes its direction from our Board of Directors, our Coalition Advisory Committee, and our membership base. Each group has asked CADCA to provide community leaders with tools to address both medicine abuse and marijuana.
We believe prescription drug abuse is a major epidemic, a point for which we have been sounding the alarm since 2001. More than a decade ago, CADCA published its first prescription drug abuse prevention toolkit to help community leaders address this problem. Every October, we ask our coalitions and partners to join us in a solutions-oriented national dialogue about OTC and Rx drug abuse through National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month.
In the Nation article, the reporter makes a bizarre leap, attempting to connect resources received from pharmaceutical companies to our efforts to reduce youth marijuana use. CADCA believes that the U.S. “experiment” with medical and retail marijuana is a grave concern, particularly in that these efforts will increase youth marijuana use, which is damaging to the adolescent brain. The fact is CADCA receives no outside funding to do our marijuana-related policy work.
The reporter conveniently failed to mention the extensive prescription drug abuse training CADCA provides or the significant policy work we do. Omitted from the article is mention of the times CADCA has testified at Congressional hearings about ways to comprehensively prevent prescription drug diversion, abuse and addiction, as well as the various instances CADCA has supported legislation aimed at reducing medicine abuse.
The title of this article alone tells you where the real agenda lies. Sadly, we know many of you have faced the same kind of attacks at the local level. We stand by our positions and our prevention work on both fronts. In this instance, we take this article as a badge of honor that what we are doing is right and is having an impact.
Arthur T. Dean
Major General, US Army Retired
Chairman and CEO