It is truly an exciting time to be a cannabis fan. Eight states have legalized cannabis for medical use, 29 states have legalized cannabis for medical use (beyond just CBD), and Washington D.C. has legalized cannabis for both medical and adult use. 2018 is poised to see more states join those lists.
On the industry side, legal cannabis in the United States has created as much as jobs 230,000 jobs and has sold as much as 10 billion dollars worth of legal cannabis in North America in just 2017 alone. Tax revenues are pouring in, and even more importantly, people in legal states are no longer having their lives ruined because of cannabis prohibition.
But as far as the cannabis movement has come in recent years, there are still looming threats against the cannabis plant. One of the biggest threats involves attempts at instituting intellectual property rights related to the cannabis plant that would help big corporate interests monopolize the cannabis plant.
Fortunately, there has been a massive effort underway to keep the cannabis plant as free from patents as possible. That effort is the Open Cannabis Project. Per the Open Cannabis Project’s website:
The Open Cannabis Project (OCP) is a community-led, science driven non-profit with a simple mission: to defend the richness and diversity of cannabis from overreaching patents.
Decades of careful stewardship and breeding have made cannabis into one of the most varied, interesting and powerful plants in the world. The growing wave of legalization – and the intellectual property competition that comes with it – may have the unintended consequence of narrowing and restricting this diversity.
OCP is building a transparent and open source repository of cannabis data that will one day grow into an archival record of all existing cannabis varieties. This helps to ensure that they remain available to all, unrestricted by commercialization or patenting, free for anyone to grow and sell.
This is literally one of the most important undertakings that has ever occurred in the cannabis space. The values listed on the OCP’s website are ones that I think everyone can get behind:
Openness & Transparency.
We believe transparent and unrestricted sharing of information is key to protecting cannabis biodiversity. It is our duty to create an open dialogue and to oppose any approach that stifles collaboration or harms biodiversity.
We believe a culturally and economically diverse cannabis industry is crucial to ensuring that we unlock the full potential of this unique plant. Humans are NOT a monoculture, and neither is cannabis.
The courage and relentless curiosity of a unique group of people has helped shape our relationship with cannabis today, and we will fight for a legal framework that encourages this spirit of innovation.
It is necessary to take an informed, scientific approach to studying as many cannabis varieties as possible. We advocate for this approach among scientists, breeders, farmers, patients, and medical professionals.
The Open Cannabis Project is looking for people to help out with the effort. Per the OCP website, “We need volunteers, developers, growers, data scientists, lawyers, and laboratories to help us collect data and protect cannabis diversity. Can you help? Get involved!” You can find out more about how to help at this link here.