We recently reported claims that the DEA has granted unnamed private pharmaceutical companies license to grow cannabis for experimental purposes. Now, the Sacramento News & Review on Dec. 19 cites a report from the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients to the effect that the United States government holds a patent on the use of cannabinoids as "antioxidants and neuroprotectants"—specifically, the Department of Health & Human Services holds Patent #6630507, as documented at the US Patent & Trademark Office.
The patent has been held since 1999, but according to the Federal Register of Nov. 17, DHHS is now "contemplating the grant of exclusive patent license" for #6630507 to New York-based KannaLife Sciences, Inc. for: "The development and sale of cannabinoid(s) and cannabidiol(s) based therapeutics as antioxidants and neuroprotectants for use and delivery in humans, for the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy, as claimed in the Licensed Patent Rights."
The News & Review conjectures this could be an "explanation" for why "the federal government...decided a few months ago to crack down in a big way on dispensaries and collectives doing business under California’s medicinal cannabis access law."
Could be part of the picture, but we will point out that cannabis has many medicinal uses beyond the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy, which appears to be "a worsening of brain function that occurs when the liver is no longer able to remove toxic substances in the blood." That sounds pretty esoteric, when compared with the herb's many more common medicinal applications. Is this really the explanation for the whole federal crackdown?
Personally, we think there is a political imperative rather than a commercial conspiracy behind the crackdown. If you notice, the Obama administration is in a states' rights showdown with Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma over the draconian anti-immigrant laws passed in these commonwealths. A crackdown on medical marijuana in California is a quick and easy way for the White House to set a states' rights precedent that right-wingers will have a hard time objecting to. A shrewd if cynical strategy.
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