A well-known New York Senator is fed up with Big Pharma and is speaking out about the opioid crisis, pharmaceutical companies, and marijuana. Kirsten Gillibrand is an American attorney and the current junior United States Senator for the state of New York, a position she has held since 2009. Senator Gillibrand was previously the U.S. Representative for New York’s 20th congressional district from 2007 to her appointment to the Senate by Governor David Paterson. A member of the Democratic Party, she is the state’s second female U.S. Senator.
In December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama nominated second-term incumbent U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton as United States Secretary of State, leaving an empty seat in the Senate. Gillibrand ran in a special election in 2010 for the permanent position after her inauguration, which she won with 63% of the vote. She was reelected to a full six-year term in 2012 with 72% of the vote, the highest margin for any statewide candidate in New York.
Gillibrand recently made an appearance on Good Day New York to speak about gun control but also covered other topics as well. “On the federal level, we really need to say it is a legal drug you can access if you need it,” Senator Gillibrand said when asked about whether marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads people to try more dangerous substances.
“I don’t see it as a gateway to opioids,” she said. “What I see is the opioid industry and the drug companies that manufacture it, some of them in particular, are just trying to sell more drugs that addict patients and addict people across this country.” Sen. Gillibrand said during her Good Day New York appearance. She continued, “To them it’s competition for chronic pain, and that’s outrageous because we don’t have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues. It’s not the same thing. It’s not as highly addictive as opioids are.”
In 2016, Insys Therapeutics, which makes products containing fentanyl and other opioids, as well as a synthetic version of the cannabinoid THC, donated half a million dollars to help defeat a marijuana legalization measure that appeared on Arizona’s ballot that year.