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Mexico is poised to become the biggest legal marijuana market in the world. Who will most benefit?

Mexico is poised to become the biggest legal marijuana market in the world. Who will most benefit?

Mexico’s marijuana revolution is on display steps from the nation’s Senate, where for the last nine months activists have maintained a fragrant cannabis garden.



a close up of a person holding an object in his hand: An activist smokes marijuana at a protest encampment outside Mexico's Senate building. (Ricardo Castelan Cruz / Eyepix Group / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)


© (Ricardo Castelan Cruz / Eyepix Group / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
An activist smokes marijuana at a protest encampment outside Mexico’s Senate building. (Ricardo Castelan Cruz / Eyepix Group / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Each day, hundreds of people stroll amid a labyrinth of towering green plants, freely lighting joints and getting high.

Their wafting smoke is meant to serve as a reminder to senators, who have to walk through the plumes to get to work. Lawmakers have until Dec. 15 to pass pot legislation under orders from the Supreme Court, which two years ago struck down a marijuana ban as unconstitutional.

After decades of restrictive drug policies that fueled deadly cartel wars, Mexico is poised to become the biggest legal cannabis market in the world.



a group of people in a garden: Mexico's marijuana revolution is on display steps from the nation's Senate, where for the last nine months activists have maintained a fragrant cannabis garden. (Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times)


© (Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times)
Mexico’s marijuana revolution is on display steps from the nation’s Senate, where for the last nine months activists have maintained a fragrant cannabis garden. (Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times)

The looming deadline has intensified debate over exactly what legalization should look like and whom it should benefit. Among the questions dogging lawmakers: How easy or difficult should it be for users to buy and consume pot? And should the estimated 200,000 families growing it now be protected from competition with the large, foreign marijuana firms that have been jockeying for influence?

“You have a broad spectrum of people who want to be involved,” said Avis Bulbulyan, a Glendale-based consultant who has advised several U.S. weed companies looking to expand to Mexico. “The question becomes: ‘Who gets to profit off this?'”

A bill that would allow private companies to sell

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New Analysis Shows Contract Pharmacies Financially Gain From 340B Program With No Clear Benefit to Patients

New Analysis Shows Contract Pharmacies Financially Gain From 340B Program With No Clear Benefit to Patients

New Analysis Shows Contract Pharmacies Financially Gain From 340B Program With No Clear Benefit to Patients

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2020

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Berkeley Research Group (BRG) published an analysis of historical trends in 340B contract pharmacy arrangements. The findings conclude that the growth in the number of these arrangements is fueling explosive growth in the program at large and driving the 340B program farther and farther away from its original intended goal of providing discounted medicines to safety-net entities treating uninsured and vulnerable patients. 

New Analysis Shows Contract Pharmacies Financially Gain From 340B Program With No Clear Benefit to Patients
New Analysis Shows Contract Pharmacies Financially Gain From 340B Program With No Clear Benefit to Patients

Congress created the 340B program to help safety-net providers, including certain qualifying hospitals and federally-funded clinics, access discounts on prescription medicines for low-income or uninsured patients. In 2010, a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) policy opened the door to allow all 340B entities to contract with an unlimited number of for-profit retail pharmacies (e.g., CVS, Walgreens) to dispense 340B medicines. While this policy may have been intended to improve patient access to needed medications, it had the misguided effect of creating an opening that allowed for-profit vendors, pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers to exploit the program and make a profit on 340B sales – sales intended to benefit low-income and vulnerable patients.

“It is clear that contract pharmacies have leveraged market power to drive unprecedented program growth and siphon money out of the program and away from vulnerable patients,” said Stephen J. Ubl, president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). “I urge lawmakers to consider the results of this analysis and pursue policies that ensure the 340B program benefits vulnerable patients rather than just line the pockets of for-profit corporations.”

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