A pile of painkiller medication sitting on a clean, white surface.

Maria Eklind

Opioid Sales Manager Accused of Drug-Pushing is Denied MMJ Access for Opioid Addiction

A former employee of Insys Therapeutics – the makers of opiate sub-lingual spray Subsys who donated $500,000 to the campaign to defeat recreational cannabis legalization in Arizona – has lost a bid to use medical cannabis while on bail to kick his opioid addiction, according to a report from Reuters.

Jeffery Pearlman, a former Insys district sales manager, had sought to modify his bail conditions so he could continue using cannabis as recommended by a New Jersey doctor. Pearlman is one of several former Insys employees accused of paying kickbacks to physicians to prescribe Subsys.

Pearlman’s lawyers argued that if he was forced to give up his medical cannabis regime, which he uses to treat pain from a spine injury, he would have to return to opioids which would impair his constitutional rights to fully participate in his defense and to due process.

In the denial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Merriam said the argument that Pearlman would have to go back to using opioids was “a faulty assumption,” adding that defendants out on bail are required to follow federal law and that cannabis possession – even for medical purposes – is federally illegal.

“Other reasonable treatments exist; indeed, in states with no medical marijuana law or more restrictive laws, patients with defendant’s condition must use other forms of treatment,” she wrote in the ruling.

Pearlman is one of six former Insys executives and managers accused of paying doctors, physicians assistants, and advance practice registered nurses to prescribe the spray through a sham “speaker program” where the company paid fees ranging from $1,000 to several thousand dollars.

Last month in an interview with NBC News, former Insys sales rep Patty Nixon said she was instructed to get Subsys to patients who should not have had access to it. She said her responsibilities included lying to insurance companies in order to get them to believe the drug was “medically necessary” by making up false oncology records and providing the insurance company with specific diagnosis codes, whether or not the patient had the condition.

Pearlman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.       

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