by Joseph Dumit and Emilia Sanabria
In 2029, on the 10th anniversary of the first Covid pandemic, former medical anthropologists Joe Dumit and Emilia Sanabria gather a range of primary sources to explore the undoing of pharmaceutical drugs and BigPharma, and the shift to open source data-driven health decision-making. Co-learners in holographic seminars often ask how it was that people invested so much hope and trust in standardized, one-size-fits-all chemotherapeutic techniques known then as “meds,” and how that system lasted into the early 2020s.
(Note: Wikipedia Talk pages are where the facts that become the the main pages are debated)
Section: Did the cannabis revolution break the Pharma industry?
“The landmark Covid Cannabis study was a turning point. Governments were pouring money into dubious industry vaccine promises that were too expensive and too specific for the highly mutating Covids-19-20-21. As the situation got out of hand with entire populations rising up, cannabis researchers were given the necessary funding to investigate the protective and anti-inflammatory properties of high-CBD strains. Early studies were quick to demonstrate that cannabis hinders the highly contagious novel coronavirus from finding a host in the lungs, intestines, and oral cavity. CannaCov(™) mouthwash and inhalants were launched and CannaRep(™) proved very successful in restoring damaged tissue in recovered patients with lung damage.”
Causal question. This framing ignores the fact that pharma tried to own cannabis and imploded. Roche made a genius move rebranding itself Roach. But their approach to clinical trials remained the same: in trying to control the largest market, they tried to make a minimally effective drug that would work for the most people, rather than many drugs that were super effective for specific groups of people. Despite the promises, they started patenting and restricting access to everything just like COMPASS did with psychedelics back in 2019. They couldn't get over their greed, and went from cool to "the man" almost overnight. --Punditlutter 2022-07-01
Reply: Exactly. Neither Pharma nor BigTobacco could take control of weed. Homegrowers are too smart for that. People just started developing their own strains and sharing their seeds. Tik Tok(e) became the platform of choice for home gardeners. Those viral timelapse grow videos of weed budding really captured people’s imagination. --dazednconfused 2022-07-01
Add suggestion: Home-decarbolyser 3D printer instructions went viral along with pdf recipe books of how to prepare medicines and what formulation was good for what. There was already so much data out there, policing not knowledge was the problem. --WeedWitch 2022-07-02
Reply: True. The “decarbolyser effect” is discussed in Cannabis_Development. The real boom was the data. If this Purple Haze worked for me, why didn't it do the same for you? Whites in the US started asking for more data from 23&Me, but the healthcorps always wanted to own the data. Linda Rae Murray’s Bioecoshare became a place to upload not just your genetics and markers, but your life history and geolocations, meds, food and pollution stats. If facecorp and the government already knew it and exploited it, why not dePRISM it altogether and make it worth less to them? --longlivedconspirator 2022-07-02
Reply: Dude your libertarianism is showing. You’re making it sound like this just happened. Without #BLM, Black Panther Health Collectives, and the Nap Ministry this take down of BigPharm would never have happened. Linda Rae Murray is part of that history. --togetherwestand 2022-07-02
Reply: Sure but it's not like the US was the centre of the game. LagosMedRevival, the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units, the neoFARCs and ConfucianHealthHackers were all meeting regularly to pool experiences and software. The 2026 Assembly held in Cuba gave birth to VivaData. This OpenSource database was spearheaded by Fidelia Shakur, the newly elected Guazrdian of the Cubanascnan Palenques. She put all the intelligence of cuban medical internationalism to work with the Darkweb Undercommons. -- anonymous 2022-07-03
Add suggestion: The protective effect of low dose cannabis, coca, qat, and opium against the cytokine (and other?) immunological effects was the precise analog to their chillaxing effects: stress relief, light entheogenic response, empathic acceptance, and enhanced creativity. Being high reduced people’s tolerance for authoritarianism #PleasureActivism. -- iinhale, 2022-08-24
Reply: You are obviously stoned -- longlivedconspirator, 2022-08-25
FRAGMENT: extract of conversation between two individuals sourced from Individual 1’s Alexa when the trigger ‘privacy’ was detected 7 times
A: "Hey, nice tincture applicator, is it a new strain too?"
B: "No, I'm a sucker for Purple Haze. It takes the edge off the day and I work creatively. But did you hear the latest results from Ice9? I thought it was a marketing gimmick that they were a group of 9-year-olds in Iceland, but I verified the statements all the way back to source. They're legit [crowdsourcing data] miners and turned up another gem correlate, about asthma and vacuuming that no one thought to look for."
A: "Ice9 is a big deal. My 12-year-old daughter Chara turned me on to them. She's on their cytokine diet and exercise trial. If she keeps it up for 6 months, she makes their platinum league. Last year she made gold by giving up sweets for 5 weeks and comped a whole year of learning algorithms."
B: "Why do they care so much about badges on their profiles?"
A: "I don't know. But people used to pay for virtual hats on virtual fighters that didn't help their video games at all. And they still do!
“But Chara really believes in their mission too. She opted for full opensourcing of all her biomarkers last year and hasn't regretted it. She recently predicted my hypoglycemia from a drop of sweat and a swab of her own microbiome. Apparently just living together is enough to keep us co-sharing."
B: "The medbaring still freaks me out. Giving up online privacy I agree with. I'm all for the realname act. I hated the flamewar days of social media, everyone yelling at each other online. People disgusted me. And then finding out that 98% of the people on most apps were bots, including dating apps. I didn't know whether to be happier about people in general or sad about the fact that my fear and disaffection was part of the plan."
A: "My brother loved the attention he got from the bots! Now he lives part time on the othernet where anonymity is still allowed but it's more a chaotic roleplaying game than a place for conspiracy trolls."
B: "Sure. But health is different. I also don't mind that medical records are shared. When pandemic two happened I gave up. I did not want to see another Covid debacle. I mean the first vaccine war was absurd. Trump seizing Sanofi's product in France! I loved how Macron was overthrown by the Green Party for his appalling management of Covid-19 and how they immediately nationalized Sanofi, gifting its IP to "future generations." Of course the med didn't really work that well anyway."
A: "Then when cannabis turned out to be the corona cure, my dad blew his MAGA stack! He agreed with Nixon on hippies and blacks being the enemy. He still lives in a bubble even after his best friend came out to him as a potsmoker. He wouldn't even let his data mingle with others."
A: "I know. I was worried when companies jumped all over weed and almost locked it up as a medicine. After all that legalization work.”
FRAGMENT: Silence=Death Proposal 55, submitted to VivaData (received March 31st 2027)
Comrades, we the Assembly of the Landless put forward the motion that classifications according to VivaData verified health risk be adopted to supplement the principle of contributive justice supplements to UBI universal basic income. Currently essential workers (laboring classes, supply chains, front line health and education) not only keep society running but incur disproportionate additional risks in doing so, relative to home-office workers. UBI has been supplemented according to suffered health burdenand mortal risk. While we agree with the current schedule of environmental and job exposure perils, we humbly submit our analysis of the multi-generational epigenetic burden induced by the massive incursion of ultra-processed foods in the Global South through deliberate BigFood and BigSoda corporate strategies. These strategies systematically destroyed local food systems, flooding markets with ultra-processed foods, debilitating agricultural and immune systems.
Below we geoconnect VivaData with foodways analysis to show how the children and children’s children of those who suffered under these regimes have persistently higher mortality, that is currently being assumed as genetic/hereditary. The good news is that we can already show that the demise of BigAgri and BigFood, as well as the mass-pharma detoxification has changed these prospects even just in the last five years. So this is not a permanent effect but a short term, yet necessary correction to the justice schedule.
This innovative temporal form of market geoanalysis is currently limited to Brazil, but has implications for many parts of the global south and in throughout the north (especially in formerly suppressed urban areas known as food deserts by people who didn’t want to see apartheid overturned). So if accepted, this proposal will have ramifications for the redistribution of supplements. Again, we repeat that we see evidence of the effects being mitigated over time with improved access to unprocessed food and homegrown local biologicals (here called plant medicines).
This form of multigenerational risk analysis may also aid in explaining the ongoing problems with housing justice. Despite the surprisingly fast unspooling of 1%er properties during the Helper Revolution, simply occupying properties, however palatial, does not undo the generational chronic burdens of fast food and sodas woven into class positions globally. Transformative justice needs a temporary supplement of reparations justice.
Finally we have a horizon to repair the horrific situation where BigPharma was subsidized as it rolled out drugs experimentally among populations that were hungry and had nothing but drugs to eat.
Section: History of the Helper Revolution
“Many   observers predicted a lot of bloodshed before the 1%ers would let go of their obscene properties and control. But after two years of confinement, rent strikes, and increasing coronavirulence, there was surprisingly little violence in what is now called the Helper Revolution. When domestic workers, janitors, security guards, gardeners, amazon warehouse workers, drivers, and others occupied the homes and businesses they had been servicing — most of which they spent more time in than the residents — some of the 1%ers were mad, but who would they turn to? If they had more than one property, how could they justify keeping another one empty when that clearly increased the transmission and mutation rate of the viruses by forcing others to live in crowded conditions?”
Addition: “Military support for the 1% was not possible after 2020. During the 2021 ‘De-coup’, most soldiers in most countries started abandoning their posts once it became clear that the pandemic arrangement of deployment and barracks was costing more lives than they would ever defend.” – truthout1492
Reply: True, but de-coup and the helper revolution were not spontaneous uprisings. This negates the work of the 2022 BLM+abolition ++movement that called for de-militarizing the military and provided the evidence of stupid mortality and redefinition of sanctuary for everyone. –breather2402, 2026-08-23
FRAGMENT: VivaData Begins when Pharma Ends (co-learner term paper introduction)
“And let anyone who wanted to analyze it look for possible correlations and connections.”
— Paul Farmer, Director General of the World Health Organisation
The transitional opendata movement was exciting and horrifying. People dove in with their pet conspiratheories. They learned how to cherry pick visualizations, but they also learned how to reanalyze others' work. Everything was open and trackable so there were arguments but increasingly there was enough data to settle many disputes. The ones that couldn't be figured out — vitamin C for cancer was a big one — started the hometrial surge. Find the entry criteria, put on a biomonitor, live by it. To the extent you do it, you are part of the trial. If not, your data still helps other things.
Context was everything most of the time. Location mapped poverty mapped disease rates mapped ownership mapped indigeneity and race. Even the rich found a lot of hidden connections to be upset about. Environmental toxins, like Roundup, became impossible to tolerate when their effects couldn’t be hidden. Reparations became policy: not for the past, but for the ongoing intolerable present. A progressive basic income gained international support, the greater the risk you had and continued to live with, the greater your income. Viral exposure on the job was just one among many risks.
Other conspiracy theorists dug into the authoritarian-driven infodemics targeting the World Health Organization, and the Gates Foundation involvement revealed the dark meddlings of the commission on traditional remedies. Pharma’s lobbying had prevented open-source treatments from being taken seriously, and Gates had insisted on charity return-on-investment models, treating health as a profit center to be grown, rather than a cost to be reduced. This became the bigger scandal, and communities around the globe took up the task of finding out what their ancestors had done, locally, to combat respiratory disease.
Most surprising was how many treatments were generally terrible. Once people started looking at the realworld mass data, standard drugs like statins and antidepressants lived up to their NNTs (number of people who needed to take them for years in order for one person to benefit). Most "blockbuster" drugs were in the hundreds, and they worked for many people (often privileged people) but not most. Pharma stocks tanked. Their own cherry-picking trial strategies had been outed. In the US they tried to outlaw crowdsourced datamining, arguing that they owned the effects of their drugs in the way Monsanto owned the GM seeds that blew into other farmers’ fields. They threw fits and threatened to stop making new drugs, which only revealed their disdain for patients, but it was too late. Home medicines and generics were already showing more effect on more people — only once you took into account all their differences. As Greta Thunberg said from the Climate Court Bench in 2025, "Why should the weed that cures my viral load also cure yours?"
Cite as: Dumit, Joseph and Emilia Sanabria. 2020. “Fragments from the Demise of the Pharmaceutical.” In “Post-Covid Fantasies,” Catherine Besteman, Heath Cabot, and Barak Kalir, editors, American Ethnologist website, 25 August 2020, [https://americanethnologist.org/panel/pages/features/pandemic-diaries/post-covid-fantasies/fragments-from-the-demise-of-the-pharmaceutical/edit]
Joseph Dumit spends half of each year leading improvisational workshops at Oxidate Pharms off the coast of former California, and continues to experiment with the effect of psychoactive substances in co-learning.
Emilia Sanabria is a decolonial psychedelic-assisted therapist and enjoys helping others find their OOS. She is currently working on a book on the anthropology of Tarot, Astrology and Divination.