Feds: There’s no medical marijuana except our medical marijuana

Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a medical marijuana advocacy group, has said the federal charges filed against Highlands Ranch resident pot grower Chris Bartkowicz takes the whole medical marijuana defense off the table. Bartkowicz is screwed, says Vincente, because the federal government doesn’t recognize any medicinal value to pot, regardless of what state laws or doctors say. Yet the federal Department of Health and Human Services owns the patent for cannabinoids— an antioxidant nerve protector contained in good old fashioned dope.

medical marijuana

“In federal court, you can’t say the words ‘medical marijuana,’ so his defense is gutted,” Vicente told Westword. “The U.S. Attorney is absolutely aware of that… That’s why this is so disturbing… They’re trying to put him in jail for forty years for a medical marijuana grow. They’re doing it in violation of what the voters of this state want and in violation of what President Obama has said he wants.”

Marijuana is for now a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning the Department of Health and Human Services cannot find any medicinal value in its use and so possession is illegal and subject to the strictest drug-sentencing statutes.

But the feds are hedging bets. In case doctors develop a little cannabinoid pill that protects against heart disease, Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s, for example, the government wants to rake in the dough. Health and Human Services is the patent holder for cannabinoid “inventors” Aidan Hampson and doctors Julius Axelrod and Maurizio Grimaldi, who have been doing research for roughly the last decade at least on the nerve protecting properties of cannabis.

On Oct. 7, 2003, US Patent 6630507 protecting cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants was issued to the department. The patent is not set to expire until 2021 and is one of 515 medical patents currently held by Health and Human Services.

Here’s the abstract from the government’s patent proposal on the benefits of cannabinoids, the main compound in marijuana plants:

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application 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. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH.sub.3, and COCH.sub.3. ##STR1##

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Becca Blond

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