Health Committee Leader Who is “Skeptical of Medical Marijuana” Has Ties to Pain Killer Lobby

Photo credit: By Original uncropped image from Laurie Avocado (Cropped version of [1]) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, the House Health and Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on legalizing medical marijuana, and at that hearing, the Health Committee leader, Matt Baker, came out against medical marijuana.  The PLS Reporter wrote:

Seeming to follow the concerns of law enforcement, both Chairman Matt Baker (R-Tioga) of the Health Committee and Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) of the Judiciary Committee told reporters that any legislation coming out of the House legalizing medical marijuana will have strict controls—even greater than those contained in the Senate’s current version of the legislation.

“Controlled, narrower, and totally regulated,” Rep. Marsico said of any potential House-passed bill.

Nevertheless, today’s hearing did not convince Rep. Baker that legalizing medical marijuana is the right thing to do.

“I am very cynical and skeptical about moving forward with this,” he said. “I think there are a lot of unresolved issues and when you talk with the scientific groups and the medical community, they are very concerned about us putting on white coats and trying to play doctor here and calling something medicine when it’s not been conclusively proven safe or effective.”

After looking into Matthew Baker’s campaign finance reports on the Influence Explorer database, Baker has received $22,800 from the Pharmaceutical Industry and some of those campaign contributors include Astra Zeneca, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and Pfizer.

Last year, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, who lobby for pain killers, issued a press release claiming that medical marijuana is ineffective when it comes to treating chronic pain, which is one of the key issues medical marijuana advocates are pushing for in Pennsylvania.  In that news release, the ASA wrote:

“The surprising result of our study was the absence of any kind of analgesic activity of THC-standardized cannabis extract on experimentally induced pain using well-established human model procedures,” study author Dr. Birgit Kraft said in a prepared statement. “Our results also seem to support the impression that high doses of cannabinoids may even cause increased sensitivity in certain pain conditions.”

The study is published in the July issue of the journal Anesthesiology.

Previous research has suggested that cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC — the main psychoactive component of marijuana) may help ease chronic pain in cancer patients, spinal cord injury patients, and people with multiple sclerosis. There have been inconsistent findings about the effects on acute pain.

This new study’s findings about oral cannabis and acute pain are seemingly conclusive, according to the researchers.

Last September, Lee Fang reported that Pfizer has become a major player in the pain killer industry.  He stated that “Pfizer has moved aggressively into the $7.3 billion painkiller market. In 2011, the company acquired King Pharmaceuticals (the makers of several opioid products) and is currently working to introduce Remoxy, an OxyContin competitor.”


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About Sean Kitchen 681 Articles
Contributor and Assistant Editor for the Raging Chicken Press. Stationed in Harrisburg covering politics in the capitol. You can send tips to or reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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