When I was at the Patients Out of Time Medical Cannabis conference in Asilomar this last April, I overheard a remark that startled me: "The US Government has a patent on cannabis."
I couldn't locate the person who made the comment, so I went home and did some online research. Sure enough, patent number 6,630,507 states unequivocally that cannabinoids are useful in the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases including auto-immune disorders, stroke, trauma, Parkinson's, Alzeheimer's and HIV dementia.
The patent, awarded in 2003, is based on research done by the National Institute of Health, and is assigned to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.
So, why is this important? Here is a legal document, in the public domain, which flies in the face of the US Government's stated position with regard to the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance having no "currently accepted medical use".
Believe me, citing this patent stops the "medical marijuana is a myth" advocates dead in their tracks. They simply cannot argue with it. The forces that would keep cannabis illegal are vocal and well funded, but they are not impervious to persistent effort.
The lynch pin in the War on Drugs is cannabis. Without the suppression and interdiction of this popular and widely used substance, there simply would not be enough "illegal drug use" going on to justify the huge amount of money and resources spent on "fighting drugs."
I believe disseminating information about this patent as widely as possible, and to as many people as possible is a crucial strategy in loosening that lynch pin, and changing public perception about cannabis. I, personally, downloaded the first page of this patent and sent a copy (with the assignee highlighted) to every one of my elected representatives.
I have also included information about it in "letters to the editor" referencing any cannabis related news story I come across, I use it as an argument in every State medical cannabis and decriminalization initiative, and have mentioned it in all my comments to online posts and blogs of the same nature.
I would be delighted if everyone who believes the War on Drugs is a failed and destructive policy, would do the same, until the existence of this irrefutable patent becomes widely held public knowledge, and government 's rhetoric is shown to be as hollow as a busted drum.
July 23, 2008