Congressman Andy Harris Is Officially Marijuana’s Public Enemy No. 1…And Big Pharma Is His No. 1 Contributor

Andy Harris Greenhouse

When it comes to pro-marijuana groups, Congressman Andy Harris is Public Enemy No. 1. This week, the Republican from Maryland had no problem taking responsibility after he helped overturn the voter-approved Initiative 71, which would have made marijuana legal in the nation’s capital. D.C. residents went into an uproar when Harris and others who backed him inserted language into Congress’ spending bill that prevents the District from implementing the referendum that passed in the 2014 midterm election with 70{f1d755e3d686d84b3fba3fb9da3bc25d6eb08724c18385fd50146d58c836a6dd} of the vote.

According to an article in, Rep. Harris said, “Relaxing [marijuana] laws clearly leads to more teenage drug use. It should be intuitively obvious to everyone that if you legalize marijuana for adults, more children will use marijuana because the message that it’s dangerous will be blunted.”

Some would say the Congressman’s comments are completely false. According to Gallup, marijuana use among 18-29 year olds has fallen 20{f1d755e3d686d84b3fba3fb9da3bc25d6eb08724c18385fd50146d58c836a6dd} since 1985. Reformed drug laws haven’t led to an epidemic of marijuana use and young adults aren’t wanting to get stoned.

But Harris’ feelings about marijuana may run deeper than his medical explanations as to why it’s harmful. According to his campaign contributions, Mr.. Harris is practically being funded by pharmaceutical companies. His biggest contributor is the health industry, with one of his top three biggest donors being the pharmaceutical company, Emergent BioSolutions, which is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. One of Emergent’s products is epsil, “a fast-acting treatment that reduces the pain associated with oral mucositis,” which is a common complication of chemotherapy from cancer treatment. According to its website, “by reducing the pain associated with OM, episil may help you maintain proper nutrition and a level of comfort—and may allow you to continue your cancer therapy uninterrupted.”

Why does this matter? Marijuana (cannabis) is a huge combatant against many of the deleterious effects of cancer and chemotherapy, and so it would be a threat to Emergent’s business model.

According to the National Cancer Institute: A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies in mouse models of cancer showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.

So basically, Emergent is one of Harris’ biggest donors, so it’s easy to see why both parties would have a vested interest in lobbying aggressively against legal cannabis.


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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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