Tag Archives: cannabis

Queens of the Stoned Age

 

There are a thousand ways to buy weed in New York City, but the Green Angels devised a novel strategy for standing out: They hired models to be their dealers. In the eight years since the group was founded—by a blonde, blue-eyed Mormon ex-model—they’ve never been busted, and the business has grown into a multimillion-dollar operation. Suketu Mehta spent months embedded with them at their headquarters and out on their delivery routes to see where this great experiment in American entrepreneurship might lead.

A friend tells me about the Green Angels, a collective of about 30 models turned high-end-weed dealers, and he introduces me to the group’s leader, Honey. The first time we speak, in the spring of 2015, she comes to my house in Greenwich Village and we talk for six hours.

She is 27 and several months pregnant. Her belly is showing, a little, under her black top and over her black patterned stockings. But her face is still as fresh as hay, sunlight, the idea the rest of the world has about the American West, where she was born—she’s an excommunicated Mormon from the Rocky Mountains. Honey is not her real name; it’s a pseudonym she chose for this article. She is over six feet tall, blonde, and blue-eyed. Patrick Demarchelier took photos of her when she was a teenager. She still does some modeling. Now that she’s pregnant, I tell her, she should do maternity modeling.

“Why would I do that when I can make $6,000 a day just watching TV?” she asks.

Honey started the business in 2009. When she began dealing, she would get an ounce from a guy in Union Square, then take it to her apartment and divide it into smaller quantities for sale. She bought a vacuum sealer from Bed Bath & Beyond to make the little bags her product came in airtight. She tells me that part of her research was watching CNN specials on the drug war to find out how dealers got busted.

Today her total expenses average more than $300,000 a month for the product, plus around $30,000 for cabs, cell phones, rent for various safe houses, and other administrative costs. She makes a profit of $27,000 a week. “I like seeing a pile of cash in my living room,” she says.

PLEASE CONTINUE READING…

NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition

by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 14, 2017

The fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing. With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test.

NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. As a result, a growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.

NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on these four areas:

  1. Reform workplace drug testing policies
  2. Expand employment opportunities for marijuana consumers
  3. Clarify the difference between detection technology and performance testing
  4. Highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees

“Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”

Employer testing of applicants or employees for trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a legal substance makes no sense in the 21st century.  This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after the consumer has ceased use.

With the 2017 Legislative Session underway, this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Legislation has already been introduced in Oregon and Washington, and is gaining traction in those states.

“Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden of Boulder, Colorado, a long-time NORML activist and Coalition spokesperson. The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test, and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court unfortunately found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.

California NORML is also expecting legislation to be introduced this session to address this issue. Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML said, “One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since Prop. 64 passed legalizing adult marijuana use in California last November is, ‘Am I now protected against drug testing on my job?’ Sadly in our state, not even medical marijuana patients are protected against job discrimination, and it’s a priority of Cal NORML to change that. We are hoping to get a bill introduced at the state level and are working with legislators, unions, and other reform groups to make that happen.”

NORML Chapters across the country are advocating on behalf of the rights of responsible marijuana consumers against discrimination in the workplace. “Our coalition was formed with the intention of not only educating legislators, but also with businesses in mind.  It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have testing options,” said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML. The Denver chapter is currently working with companies that offer performance impairment testing of workers suspected of on-the-job impairment or use rather than unreliable bodily fluid testing to help provide options for employers.

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For decades drug testing companies and others have pushed their agenda through a campaign of misinformation. Until now there has never been an organized effort to challenge the profit- driven ideology of those who seek to benefit from intrusive drug screening. Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a casual cocktail after a long day at the office.

For legal questions, please contact Coalition spokesperson Judd Golden at juddgolden@outlook.com. For other marijuana related questions or an interview, please contact Kevin Mahmalji at kevinm@norml.org.

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Time 4 Hemp Presents: Cannabinoid Profiles: A Crash Course

Time 4 Hemp

Crash-Course in CBGs

The Time4Hemp Network has set up a very educational and informative series which they are calling the “Cannabinoid Profiles Series”.

Anyone who needs or wants to review a course in Cannabinoids should start here!

 

Cannabinoid Profile: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

 

The LINKS for the series is below:

Cannabinoid Profiles Series

1. Meet Your CB Receptors

2. A Crash Course in THC

3. A Crash Course in CBD

4. A Crash Course in THC

5. A Crash Course in CBG

6. A Crash Course in CBC

7. A Crash Course in THC

8. A Crash Course in CBN

9. A Crash Course in CBDs

SOURCE LINK:

How prohibition limits cannabis & technology

Published on February 7, 2017

Travis Lachner

Travis Lachner
CEO & Creative Director at Cannvas

 

Federal prohibition segregates cannabis and technology.

Complex banking regulation suffocates cash flow.

Research discoveries are suppressed and hidden.

Social media shutdowns are routine procedure.

Simply stated; making progress in the cannabis industry is really difficult right now.

This professional canna-bigotry is due to marijuana’s (mis)classification as a Schedule I substance. Domestic and international companies

Most of the country supports cannabis legalization. Yet, it still remains illegal.

Prohibition causes unnecessary and inefficient problems for the industry – and the nation.

We need to end prohibition and build the industry right to realize the potential of cannabis.

Companies, consumers, patients, and citizens will all benefit from proper legalization.


1) Banking and FinTech access sucks. Cash-only operations are unsafe.

Cannabis companies cannot access basic banking and financial technologies normally.

Federal prohibition restricts most banks from serving companies related to cannabis in any way. Even ancillary companies (that don’t touch the plant) are still neglected.

And legislative progress for cannabis banking created at the state level is stomped out by federal government.

In Colorado, state banking officials approved a charter for the first “Cannabis Bank” ever – A credit union named The Fourth Corner (TFCCU).

However, final admin approval at the federal level is continuously denied… The cannabis bank cannot operate without it.

Financial restrictions force cannabis companies two directions:

  • Option A – Companies operate cash only. Sometimes moving hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.
  • Option B – Companies pursue private banking opportunities at the state level and operate within financial loopholes.

Neither of these options are ideal.

According to Bloomberg Business, less than 3% of banks in America accept cannabis cash. Which means employees and individuals must move billions of dollars in cash regularly. These are extremely unsafe conditions and procedures.

A new “cannabis security” industry is emerging because of this problem. Ventures like Canna Security America provide comprehensive security services to keep staff, customers, and citizens safe.

But cannabis companies shouldn’t have to hire armed security services for safety… If customers were allowed to just swipe a damn debit card at any dispensary, the context of cannabis will be safer.

Modern banking technology is essential to all modern companies. Why are cannabis companies forced into awkward and unsafe restrictions?

It is unrealistic to make companies to operate under such irrational conditions. Especially while being taxed so heavily.

2) Awkward and vague regulations change often.

Cannabis companies pour capital into compliance. The “cover your ass” attitude is necessary in the ever-shifting regulations and requirements.

Brands balance between state legality and federal prohibition. New laws can make, break, or change business models overnight.

In addition to operational regulation, cannabis companies must abide to marketing and advertising restrictions. They cannot reach audiences like most other businesses.

Traditional companies in America spend millions on marketing and advertising – with minimal restrictions. TV, Facebook, Google, Instagram – pretty much whatever they want. But cannabis related companies can’t participate. (Yet.)

Instead, cannabis companies navigate complex layers of ambiguous regulation. Many areas of requirements are unclear, unrealistic, or nonexistent.

Large companies like Google and Facebook restrict ads for anything and everything cannabis-related.

And to be fair, they are just protecting their companies. Most of these policies are indirectly due to federal prohibition.

National brands fear the possible repercussions of the federal government. So they cover their ass by following suit with whatever the government says at the time.

This creates a contradicting scenario for companies and states… Selling cannabis is legal – but advertising cannabis is tricky.

Beyond regulation, cannabis companies are often pushed around by the “big boys” of media and technology.

I see new stories like those every week. It’s seriously like industrial level bigotry or bullying.

3) Research and development efforts are limited and discouraged.

Cannabis companies cannot complete high-level research and development.

Innovation research and medical studies require strict government approval or federal funding – which is often denied.

But here’s the weird part. The federal government already knows cannabis research will benefit society… The federal government owns the patent to use cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Yet, they still suppress innovative discoveries.

Back in the 70’s, the US government discovered THC can shrink cancerous tumors. But political forces swept this research under the rug.

Why? Because it did not support the agenda for “The War on Drugs.”

Modern research reinforced the discovery again in 2000.

Spanish scientists successfully destroyed “uncurable” brain tumors with THC (an active component of cannabis).

But you probably didn’t see this story in America. That’s because the revolutionary research was censored and ignored by major media outlets.

The neglected study from Madrid was named the “Top Censored Story” of 2000 by Project Censored

Today, American government is still putting up roadblocks for research.

In 2015, Congress shut down federal research on medical marijuana yet again.

This is an absurd problem. Is our own government suppressing the potential power of cannabis intentionally?

The medical benefits of cannabis and technology deserve to be discovered and delivered to the people.

Let’s take a closer look at the potential of marrying cannabis and technology.

Throughout history, technology innovations pave the path for industries to leverage and build upon.

But unfortunately, cannabis companies are restricted from leveraging existing technologies.

While most American companies sit on the shoulders of giants, cannabis companies barely get to stand on on the big toe of that giant.

Even worse – companies that “touch the plant” are restricted by regulations and fear of prosecution. Which means new innovations in the industry are often discouraged or dismissed.

This type of environment creates irrational risk for entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators. It discourages progress and big ideas..

Instead, we must cultivate an environment for encouraging positive growth and development.

Imagine what we will gain when the cannabis industry can leverage the entire spectrum of modern technologies with less restriction.

1) Companies will focus on improving products and services.

Cannabis companies will devote more time and energy to optimize the customer experience. Products and services will be fixed, upgraded, and optimized over time.

Currently, cannabis companies spend TONS of time, money, and energy navigating a shit-show of regulations and compliance.

Intense, time-consuming administrative projects ensure the entire business isn’t stripped away.

This energy could be (and should be) spent better.

Internal resources should be used to enhance product development, improve services, and innovate the customer experience.

Cannabis companies deserve the right to allocate their bandwidth more efficiently.

2) Companies will mature their marketing (and targeting).

Marketing and advertising will experience noticeable maturity. Companies will focus on more specific target audiences with hyper-detailed precision.

Cannabis companies will target consumers and patients better.

From stereotypical “stoners” to critically concerned medical patients… Proper access to modern marketing and targeting technology will enhance the customer experience.

Customer archetypes, strain-matching, and advanced targeting tools will be standard in the industry. Apps like PotBot will offer custom product recommendations based on user preferences.

Technology allows brands to target the exact type of users best-fit for their product. In the end, that is better for both the consumers and the companies.

But most technologies will be inaccessible or restricted until prohibition is lifted.

Federal prohibition sets the tone for large companies and advertising platforms to follow suit regarding cannabis. And the current advertising restrictions make it extremely difficult for companies to capture targeted audiences.

Cannabis pioneers experience difficulty building and marketing effective, creative and compliant campaigns.

If this problem sounds familiar… Cannvas provides custom cannabis brand-building solutions for 100% compliant marketing, advertising, and PR.

3) Research will unlock the power of the endocannabinoid system.

This is the big kahuna.

The endocannabinoid system is the untapped holy grail of cannabis and medicine.

It could be one the missing key needed to treat, manage, or cure many conditions in the medical community.

The endocannabinoid system is revolutionary. But we are only in the early stages of discovery. Many experts predict mastering the ECS will mark a new era of healthcare.

From cancer, to epilepsy, to simple chronic pain or nausea… The endocannabinoid system is directly related to the biological balance of humans.

Currently, we are just scratching the surface of possibilities. But the convergence of cannabis and medical technology is well under way.

With proper funding, and federal approval, hundreds of medical benefits will be discovered. The full potential of can be literally life-saving.

Cannabis will soon develop its identity as a wellness product.

And canna-pharmaceuticals may be the future of healthcare.

The solution is simple.

Federal prohibition is ineffective. We need to marry cannabis and modern technologies.

Nationwide legalization will enable better access to existing technologies – while encouraging innovation and safety.

Companies, consumers, and citizens will all benefit from legalizing cannabis.

And we can build the industry right.

Let’s do this.

9 ways federal marijuana laws are limiting rights of residents in legal weed states

Federal status of marijuana is affecting both everyday cannabis consumers and people attempting to work in the industry.

By BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGS / STAFF WRITER

Published: Feb. 4, 2017 Updated: Feb. 5, 2017 2:45 p.m.

 Derek Peterson, CEO and president of Terra Tech. Just weeks after Prop. 64 passed, Peterson learned the company that for two years had managed Terra Tech's payroll and health benefits would be dropping them, Dec. 31, because of concern over their role in the cannabis industry. “The decision came out of nowhere,” he said. “We have almost 200 employees that spent their holiday season stressed about the possibility of not having their health benefits available in the new year, let alone a reliable pay schedule.” (File Photo by ED CRISOSTOMO, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic, a category reserved for drugs such as heroin that are said to be highly addictive and have no medical value. There’s been no movement to ease that stance even though polls show a record number of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal, 28 states now permit medical marijuana and eight more allow recreational use.
One thing that has changed is the optimism some cannabis enthusiasts expressed prior to the November election.
As the biggest state in the nation prepared to vote on legalizing recreational use with Prop. 64, the thinking was that California could become a tipping point that would ultimately lead to federal approval of cannabis.
Prop. 64 easily passed. But confidence in the impact of that vote has dimmed as the reality of a GOP-controlled federal government headed by President Donald Trump – and the prospect of marijuana-opponent Jeff Sessions as Attorney General – has settled in.
For individuals, the ongoing conflict with federal law can make it harder to get everything from housing to healthcare, even if they use cannabis for medical reasons says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.
And for Californians who want to make money in the cannabis industry, the differences between state and federal law can affect how they bank, pay taxes and more.
“It’s a serious hindrance,” said John Hudak, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution who specializes in marijuana policy.
“It creates a scenario in which companies are able to get up and running, but not operate like a normal business.”
Here are nine ways the federal status of marijuana is affecting both everyday cannabis consumers and people attempting to work in the industry, no matter what their state law says.

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(OR) Senate Bill 301 may make marijuana drug tests illegal in the workplace

by Kimberly Kolliner

Monday, January 30th 2017

MEDFORD, Ore. – Regardless of if it’s legal in the state, right now, failing a marijuana drug test could cost you your job.

“For us, marijuana is still classified federally as a schedule 1 controlled substance so we do include it in our drug screening,” People’s Bank Chief Operating Officer, Jeri Reno.

However, this may change.

The Oregon Senate has introduced Bill 301, which proposes marijuana testing in the work place to be illegal, because its use in the state is legal.

This is something that Reno sees no immediate threat with.

“I think that’s going to be a wave of the future in that just like alcohol, marijuana is going to be used recreational and it would be honored as such. I think we’ll just see what it brings,” Reno said.

As an employer, Reno says work performance is the only thing she would be concerned with.

Something the bill also clearly outlines.

“We essentially are looking for employees who are productive and without possibility of being impaired in the workplace,” Reno said.

She believes if marijuana is used on employees off time, it should have no burden on employees while they’re on the clock.

“I would think our employees would continue to be responsible in the way they use marijuana or alcohol and I wouldn’t see much difference in the workplace,” Reno said.

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Give a Pregnant Mom Marijuana, Be Guilty of Murder?

Opposing abortion alone does not make someone pro-life. That stance is merely “pro-birth,” according to Sister Joan Chittister, a Catholic nun and thus a member of a broad, billion-person-strong social movement—the Catholic Church—which does not look kindly upon abortion. To be pro-life, one must care for someone after they’re born, not just before. 

So. What makes someone so concerned with the welfare of the unborn that they’d like to imprison their mothers for even the slightest taste of cannabis while pregnant—creating a sort of ob-gyn to prison pipeline?

“Fucking crazy” might be one reasonable conclusion. It would also make you a “Wyoming state lawmaker,” such as the cabal in Cheyenne that’s pushing a new package of drug laws.

K2Radio brings us news of the push to criminalize—further, since there are plenty of bad parenting laws on the books—“drug induced infant endangerment.”

The brainchild of Rep. Jim Blackburn, Rep. Mark Jennings, Rep. Jared Olsen, Rep. Nathan Winters and Sen. Ogden Driskill—dudes, all of them, of course—the bill creates stiff penalties for a pregnant mother who uses any illegal drug, and even stiffer penalties for anyone who provides the pregnant mother with said drug.

Nobody would argue using methamphetamine or heroin while pregnant is a good idea. Same thing with alcohol or tobacco. Conveniently, the way this law is written, it would be remarkably easy to punish a mother for even the slightest marijuana use.

To be guilty of “drug-induced infant homicide,” a mother need only give “birth to a viable infant during or after drug use,” after which point “and the infant dies, or drug use contributes to the infant’s death.” That would be a felony punishable by 10 years in prison.

The threshold to be guilty of “drug-induced infant abuse,” which carries a five-year prison term, is even lower: A mother faces that penalty if she uses “an illegal narcotic drug while pregnant and gives birth to a child who tests positive for any amount of that drug” (emphasis ours).

Before you fool yourself into thinking this is reasonable, remember the context.

More mothers than ever before are using cannabis during pregnancy in order to deal with morning sickness. To all the men out there: Imagine being sick, every day, in some cases for most of the day. Then imagine being in a situation where you had to eat in order to deliver nutrition to the thing growing inside you, but being too sick to do so.

It’s still not clear what happens to a child whose mother uses marijuana during pregnancy, though some studies suggest there’s no issue at all.

This comes shortly after the DEA recently specified that cannabidiol, CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is a Schedule I drug. And finally, since marijuana is fat-soluble and stays in the body for weeks or longer after use, the takeaway is that if this passes, a mother who so much as sniffs cannabis during pregnancy could lose her child and end up in the state pen for a five-spot.

But that’s nothing compared to the individual who delivered the drugs to the expectant mother.

If someone “knowingly” delivers a Schedule I or II controlled substance to a pregnant mother, they risk a prison term of between 10 and 25 years, according to K2Radio.

Methamphetamine is a huge problem in Wyoming, according to the Justice Department… just as drug abuse is an issue anywhere the economy is trash, including poor neighborhoods in big liberal cities. And like everywhere else, heroin use has come roaring back in Wyoming, riding the crest of the tsunami of prescription pills unleashed in America, as a 2015 story in GQ detailed.

You don’t often hear more incarceration and more crime as the solution to these ills—at least not in serious academic or scientific circles. But that’s not the thinking when you’re pro-birth—and pro-prison.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

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Don’t expect nationwide marijuana legalization under the Trump administration

Washington DC marijuana handout

With the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, the United States got a new president. And with that new president comes a long list of new appointees across various federal agencies and departments. While President Trump’s cabinet selection process has played out publicly, a variety of folks from former president Barack Obama’s administration have quietly stayed on.

One of the most prominent people that’s staying on is the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Chuck Rosenberg, who was appointed by former attorney general Loretta Lynch in May 2015.

And that’s particularly notable, as the DEA is responsible for enforcing drug policy in the United States. Most importantly for most Americans, Rosenberg is in charge of enforcing marijuana illegality in the US — an area where, traditionally, the federal government and individual US states have butted heads.

For instance, California legalized medical marijuana use in 1996; despite legality in California, the drug remained illegal on a federal level, and the US government — through the DEA — policed it as such. California medical dispensaries were raided by the federal government repeatedly, regardless of its legality in the eyes of the State of California.

That relationship dramatically changed in 2013 due to a document known as “The Cole Memo” (written by deputy attorney general James Cole). The document re-focused federal resources away from prosecuting individuals who were operating legally within their own states, and instead focused on containment and prevention.

In so many words, it directed federal agencies to stop clashing with state-level marijuana policy.

And DEA head Chuck Rosenberg has upheld that memo.

“He didn’t have too much of a problem following the administration’s directives on that issue,” Marijuana Policy Project senior communications manager Morgan Fox told Business Insider. “And it says a lot for continuity — things will remain relatively the same at the DEA.” 

Of course, this is all up for change. If Trump’s attorney general appointee, Senator Jeff Sessions, is appointed, he could direct the DEA to take a more hardline stance. And if President Trump himself decides to take a more hardline stance, that would also impact how the DEA operates when it comes to federal marijuana policy. To be clear, neither Sessions nor Trump have indicated as much.

As Fox told Business Insider, “The DEA head acts as the direction of the attorney general who acts at the direction of the president.” That said, both President Trump and Senator Sessions have indicated intentions to keep the status quo: allowing states to legislate and police their own drug laws.

In 2016, alongside Trump winning the presidency, several states enacted laws either outright legalizing recreational marijuana use, cultivation, and distribution/sales or legalized medical use. For the foreseeable future, it looks like the US government will continue to defer to individual states in terms of marijuana policy.

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the first-ever patent for a plant containing significant amounts of THC

Terpenes and Testing Magazine

You know that strain you love? The one that a breeder managed to hone perfectly over the years? We are at a point in the industry where that strain that you love could be locked up by big business. The theft of a clone or tissue, biopiracy, could destroy decades of hard work with no mention of where it came from.

Why? Big business is knocking on the door of the cannabis industry, bringing with them the specter of plant patents.

There have already been a few U.S. patents related to cannabis over the years. The one that caught the attention of everyone in the cannabis business came in the form of U.S. patent 9,095,554, a 145-page utility patent filed in August 2015 by the BioTech Institute in Westlake, California on the breeding, production, processing and use of specialty cannabis.

The document lists dizzying details of the chemical structures of both CBD and THC, their uses, planting and harvesting for cannabis, along with dozens of charts only a scientist could understand. It’s being hailed as the first-ever patent for a plant containing significant amounts of THC.

BioTech has filed the first patent on a broad range of cannabis, with various forms and concentrations of CBD and/or THC, and just about every form of cannabis including extracts and edibles.

It’s a shot across the bow in a multi-billion-dollar industry blissfully unaware—or unaccepting—that the cannabis business is moving into big agriculture territory. Big money attracts big players. Those big players want to own, protect and have recourse to take legal action against any other big company challenging the breeding, growing and selling of their product.

For cannabis business owners, it’s becoming clear that it’s time to circle the wagons and find out what needs to be done to protect the intellectual property represented by their plant and processes. All while carefully eyeing the moves of big agriculture.

It’s time to add patent lawyer fees and filing fees to the list of costs for running a cannabis business.

The hard reality is, for most breeders and growers, it’s already too late. If they’ve sold a strain a year or longer ago, it’s now in the public domain and therefore can’t be patented.

“Patents are not a threat,” says Dale Hunt, a patent attorney working in biotechnology. “In this young industry, patents are viewed that way. They are only a threat if they are in the hands of a big agricultural company. But they are also a shield. A patent can actually be a sword and a shield.”

If Monsanto gets into the cannabis business—an unconfirmed but common fear if federal legalization occurs—they will definitely have patents on the plant. “People need to realize that, ‘OK, if we can’t stop them from getting into it, we can’t stop them from patenting, do we figure out how to engage, how to defend ourselves using the same tools?’” Hunt expressed.

“We have found out that a lot of people are terrified about big agriculture when it comes to patents,” Mowgli Holmes, Co-Founder and CSO for Phylos Bioscience, added. “But even little breeders want to patent too. We thought that patents on cannabis were bad altogether, but once you start talking to breeders, you realize that they want and need protection.” Phylos is an agricultural genomics company based in Portland, Oregon focusing on cannabis studies.

Hunt explained that some in the industry just want it to be a kind of “patent-free” zone. “And that is just not an option.”

There are a couple of ways to patent a new strain. For example, one can be obtained on an individual strain with a simple plant patent, available through the USPTO. This offers a narrow form of protection against a direct copying of that strain. “Plant patents cost about $5,000 to file and might cost $5,000 in lawyer fees,” Holmes shared. “So they are affordable.”

The utility patent, like the one granted to BioTech, is a patent where an applicant persuaded the examiner that the certain combinations of biochemical and genetic properties were new, and provided various strains that have those properties.

“What is important to understand about that utility patent is that it is not limited to any particular strain,” Hunt explained. “It’s limited to only that combination of properties. And that patent is valid only if that combination of properties never really existed before. A big part of the challenge is: Who knows? Where is the prior art? There is a great and unusual vacuum of knowledge of what is really out there. It may well be that what is before the examiner is not new at all.”

That utility patent could, in effect, end the development of other, more diverse strains if they exhibit the same combination of properties as listed in that patent. “Our position now is that utility patents are being granted, and it’s pretty damn clear that those are not good for the industry,” Holmes said. “They are innovation killing, destructive patents. And if the industry wants to survive, they need to fight them.”

Sadly, there are only more patents coming, “I think they already granted the second one for the same group, and I think that they have several others in the pipeline,” Holmes recounted.

To fight cannabis plant patenting, the Open Cannabis Project was created recently to build a prior art database. The database lists the DNA sequence of thousands of strains that are already out in the public domain and, by doing that, making those particular strains unavailable to be patented by any one person or corporation.

Both Hunt and Holmes are working on that project now.

“That is important because it’s the only possible way to fight a patent on a specific plant,” Holmes said. “We need to get a lot of testing labs to donate their testing data, because that chemical data and what chemical compounds are in the plant is what that 2015 utility patent rested on. If we had done that a year earlier—if we provided that prior art data—I don’t think they could have gotten that patent.”

What could happen now? Hunt gives an example of a mom-and-pop breeder that develops a great strain. “As the industry gets bigger and more lucrative, how are they going to protect that strain from someone grabbing it, and propagating it as their strain?” he concluded. “The mindset that patents are bad is not one that will serve people well in this burgeoning industry.”

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North Americans Spent $53.3 Billion On Marijuana Last Year, Most Of It Illegally

The industry “just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels,” a new report says.

01/17/2017 06:20 pm ET

Ryan Grenoble Reporter, The Huffington Post

A new report estimates consumers spent $53.3 billion on cannabis in North America last year.

The first-of-its-kind analysis, compiled by ArcView Market Research, spans legal, medical and illegal marijuana markets across both the United States and Canada. At around $46 billion, the illegal market constituted 87 percent of marijuana sales in 2016 (a decrease from 90 percent in 2015), dwarfing both medical and legal sales.

The marijuana investment and research firm provided a 25-page executive summary of its fifth annual State of Legal Marijuana Markets to The Huffington Post Tuesday, ahead of the full report’s release in February.

Arcview projects the legal marijuana market will expand from its current $6.9 billion to $21.6 billion by 2021, as California, Massachusetts and Canada expand their cannabis sales, and medical sales begin in Florida. The $6.9 billion figure is itself a 34 percent increase in just one year from 2015.

Assuming the projections hold, the five-year growth rate for legal marijuana from 2016 to 2021 would fall just short of that seen by broadband internet providers from 2002 through 2007, which expanded at around 29 percent per year, from around $7 billion to north of $25 billion.

Unlike most of the billion-dollar industries that preceded it, marijuana is in a unique position, ArcView argues, because the market doesn’t need to be created from scratch ― it just needs to transition from illicit to legal channels.

“The enormous amount of existing, if illicit, consumer spending sets cannabis apart from most other major consumer-market investment opportunities throughout history,” Arcview Market Research CEO Troy Dayton explained in an emailed statement.

“In contrast to comparable markets with fast growth from zero to tens of billions in recent decades such as organic foods, home video, mobile, or the internet, the cannabis industry doesn’t need to create demand for a new product or innovation ― it just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels.”

In states that have moved to tax and regulate the drug, the black market has decreased rapidly, the report found. Colorado’s black market, for instance, accounts for about one-third of all cannabis sales, with the majority having transitioned to legal marketplaces.

ArcView found the cashflow going to drug dealers and cartels has diminished accordingly, helped in part by the shrinking “illegality premium” for the product once demanded by the black market. 

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