A Medical Cannabis Opponent in Utah Makes His Money From Major Opioid Sales

There are reasons why someone could be opposed to a regulated cannabis program: religious beliefs, or concerns it’ll lead to the abuse of far more dangerous substances, or ignorance over pot’s impact and effects. Oh, and children—won’t someone please think of the children! (Just not in a Jeffrey Epstein way.) Those reasons are frustrating, but understandable.

Some of the other reasons for opposing legal weed are worthy of contempt, though—such as having a vested interest in making sure people only have access to your product instead of cannabis, even if your products have a pretty grim track record of addiction, suffering, and death.

We turn our weary eyes to Utah.

In 2018, Proposition 2, a medical cannabis program initiative, qualified for the Utah ballot.

But that news wasn’t taken very well by the Dollar Tree of religions and the messy mob bosses of Utah, AKA the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. LDS did their best to influence the outcome of the measure with a campaign urging everyone to oppose it.

But Utah voters rejected their advice, and the measure passed in November 2018 with 53 percent of the vote.

That didn’t really matter to the Utah House, which passed House Bill 3001 a month later during a special session. HB 3001 effectively replaced the more inclusive Proposition 2, whose language did more to promote safe access to veterans, support small canna industry start-ups, and generally do better by the medical patients for whom it was written, as opposed to HB 3001, which delays access to cannabis for patients until at least 2021.

HB 3001 was the primarily the work of a long-time cannabis opponent and Utah State Senate majority leader Evan Vickers, who had battled against Proposition 2 since its earliest incarnation going back to 2015.

Why did Vickers offer such adamant opposition to medical cannabis?

Some fun facts: Vickers is a pharmacist by trade, and his family runs a thriving chain of pharmacies.

And thanks to information from a DEA database that until recently was off-limits, we have some insight as to just how thriving those pharmacies are.

That database, ARCOS, tracks every pain pill produced and sold in the US (and there are quite a few, to say the least).

According to a piece by the Washington Post, in the years between 2006 and 2012, “America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills.”

A mere six companies were responsible for 75 percent of those pills.

Portland writer Angela Bacca, whose work you should be following, put together a great piece that shows the pharmacies owned by Vickers family sold more opiates than anyone.

Bacca writes, “The Post’s searchable database reveals that Vickers distributes 34 percent of tiny Iron County’s opiates, more than even Wal-Mart, through two of his Cedar City pharmacies, E J V F LLC and Township Pharmacy aka Bulloch Drug. Like other parts of rural America, the region has been experiencing an alarming increase in heroin overdoses.”

Bacca’s piece delves deeper into this fuckary, and is well worth a read.

Cannabis legalization advocates are calling for Vickers to recuse himself from cannabis legalization.

“When we saw the outrageous numbers of opiates that Vickers is dispensing, it was alarming to all of us,” Christine Stenquist, Founder and Executive Director of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), told High Times. “Even more alarming is that this man is trying to prohibit cannabis from coming into the state. And we’ve seen in states where there is cannabis, that there’s a decline in pharmaceuticals, especially opiates.”

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies OregonCannabisConcierge.com and CaliforniaCannabisConcierge.com. His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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