Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Pot Patent


In 2014 a Georgia farmer's okra plants were mistaken for pot-cannabis, marijuana.  When you garden, it's pretty hard to imagine anyone mistaking okra for cannabis.  But I suppose when seen from a helicopter, its rather easy to suppose that okra is cannabis.  There were a lot of gumbo jokes circulating in the media regarding this particular raid.  The retired Georgia farmer was understandably angry over the raid.  On the other hand a Texas organic farm in 2013 was treated quite a bit more poorly than the Georgia farmer.  The people on the Texas organic farm had their blackberries, tomatillos, and okra confiscated (not ever returned according to media reports)  All the adults were handcuffed, interrogated and a mother and her two-week old baby were separated. One adult was arrested for a traffic ticket violation.

Botany is a difficult subject and plant identification is not everyone's forte. Obviously, our government is waging a war on drugs.  Both these raids used heavily armed police.  And both raids were embarrassingly a mistake.  Human nature being what it is, is not always right in the matters of "truth, justice and the American way."  The only thing you can be sure of when you look up in the sky is that Superman doesn't live there anymore, just drones and helicopters.

As you can see this isn't my usual blog post.  I promise you this is about patents, just not human milk component patents.  You see I was curious as to how many patents did the US Department of Health and Human Services own. Why? Because they owned a human lactoferrin patent that I blogged about awhile ago.

 I wondered how many other patents did the government own? And in my search I got side-tracked by finding this patent entitled, "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants," (patent # 6630507) filed in 1999 and owned by who else?  The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services. In their abstract they state, "The cannabinoids are found to have particular applications as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia."

Rather ironic that the US Department of Health owns a patent on pot or should we say the components of the cannabis plant for its medicinal qualities.  Yet, it is an illegal drug.  Although in a number of states the medicinal use of cannabis is legalCould this change of attitude be because of patenting?  Have they licensed this patent out?  

It reminds me of the human lactoferrin patent owned by the Department of Health for use in immunocompromised patients (specifically hiv/aids patients).  Human lactoferrin is a component of human milk and in the USA hiv positive mothers are told not (prohibited in reality) to breastfeed.  Yet the government patent states the benefits of human lactoferrin in the treatment of hiv/aids.  Its like having a parent say do as I say, not as I do and not as I do to make money.

Politically, this is a major issue.  Governments owning medical patents is a conflict of interest, particularly when the government makes health care policies that increase monetary benefit to the government.  Is government a business?  I am confused about the boundaries of a government when they own patents.  Are official pronouncements about our health through the CDC and the FDA (who are part of the Department of Health) about health and safety?  Or maybe this is just another Catch-22 that all bureaucracies create.

" “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle." by Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Copyright 2016 Valerie W. McClain 


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