Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Company Gets Trademark For The Word ‘Psilocybin,’ Frustrating Decriminalization Advocates
[Canniseur: Here’s a perfect example of how far behind the USPTO is when it comes to names that are in the public domain. Psilocybin is a common name for a variety of mushroom that induces a psychedelic reaction. It’s like trying to trademark the word ‘air’, which obviously isn’t trademarkable. So why even bother? Because someone sees a potential to make some money?]
As psychedelics reform efforts pick up across the U.S., there’s an increasing weariness among advocates about the potential corporatization that may follow.
That’s why many found it alarming when a California-based company announced on Thursday that it had successfully trademarked the word “psilocybin,” the main psychoactive constituent of so-called magic mushrooms.
Psilocybin is a brand of chocolates that do not contain the psychedelic itself but are meant to “begin educating, enlightening and supporting the community in upgrading their inner vibrations in order to get everything they want of their time here on earth,” according to a mission statement.
Soon after founder Scarlet Ravin shared news of the trademark on LinkedIn, advocates raised questions and concerns: What does that mean on a practical level for other psilocybin organizations? Why should one brand get exclusive rights (to a certain legal extent) to the scientific name of a natural substance?
The reality of this particular trademark is more nuanced than it might appear at first glance. While it’s true that the company was granted the distinction by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it’s specifically for educational materials and it’s listed on the supplemental register, rather than the principal register, which means it would be incumbent upon the brand to prove that it has earned distinctiveness of the mark if the issue went to court.
“It’s certainly good for her business to have that mark, but I think at the end of the day, it’s going to be somewhat weak,” Larry Sandell, an intellectual property attorney at Mei & Mark LLP, told Marijuana Moment. He added that this example is “indicative that people are trying to stake early claims to IP.”
“Even if they might be somewhat overreaching, people see a potential new market here and they want to stake out their ground,” he said. “It’s a big next space that people are anticipating a legal market. Maybe it’s where cannabis was five to 10 years ago.”
Despite those legal limitations, reform advocates view the trademark as emblematic of a bigger issue—that someone would presume to take ownership of a substance that’s at the center of a national debate on whether or not to criminalize individuals for using it.
Kevin Matthews, who led the successful campaign to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Denver last year and is the founder of the national psychedelics advocacy group SPORE, told Marijuana Moment that he didn’t doubt Ravin had the right intentions—to promote education into the substance—but he said the decision to trademark is nonetheless questionable.
“This being an open-source movement, trademarking the word psilocybin, in some ways it feels like—although I don’t think this is her intention—it’s lacking perspective,” he said. “Does that mean we can’t use psilocybin as SPORE because we’re an educational non-profit and she’s a for-profit branded company? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. She needs to let go of the trademark.”
Ravin said that her goal in trademarking psilocybin was to prevent the substance from being becoming the next cannabis, which she said has been corrupted from its “true spiritual, medicinal benefit” and turned into a corporate commodity.
“Knowing that psilocybin is going to be next [to be legalized] I feel strongly guided by the deepest part of my heart to really offer a sense of education of what could be when you take such a strong, beautiful medicine and to give people an education platform here and now to let them know what’s coming, how to receive it, how to get the most benefit from,” she told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview.
“We paved the way for this being a medicinal offering and not a consumer, recreational shitshow. That was our intention,” Ravin said. “The only way that we are going to have access to mainstream consumers is by having some sort of trademark on the word so that we can use it for something that’s not what it actually is.”
“With this being something that we can now put into market with a box of chocolates that has no psilocybin in it, but as you can already see, it creates a platform for discussion of what the beauty of this plant can do,” she said. “Me and my movement and my team, we don’t own the word. We’re not going to ever sue anyone who also uses the word—we’re opening a doorway for ourselves and anyone that wants to see this educated upon so that we can hit people who are unfamiliar with it now with downloads to actually have this be a safe, successful psychedelic transition.”
Asked to react to criticism about the trademark from advocates, Ravin said “we’re all here to follow spirit guidance to show love and light, and the visions I had of doing what we’re doing now was based upon breaking boundaries and breaking perceptions and allowing people to have an opportunity to sink into being one unit.”
“Yeah, it might be coming out, we might be using the platform of psilocybin. We can use any platform to do this,” she said. “We can use any platform to come together as a whole, and the longer that people sit in duality and say, ‘oh now she’s going to have a stronger voice than me is just looking at something not through their heart,’ it’s looking at it through ego and judgement.”
“The more that we describe what we’re doing, the more people I think will start to feel our unity and we’ll be able to move together as a stronger force than pointing fingers and trying to separate one another,” she said. “Those days are done.”
Ravin said that once the Psilocybin chocolates are ready for market, she plans to contribute 10 percent of profits to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is involved in researching therapeutic benefits of psychedelic substances.
Congressman Backs Ballot Measure To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms For Therapeutic Use
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Workman.
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Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Federal Law A ‘Big Deterrent’ To Marijuana Research, Top U.S. Health Science Official Says
[Canniseur: The cannabis industry needs more research. Lots more research. All the research of cannabis over the past 10 years is elementrary. The elementary research needs to be built upon with more complex avenues of research. More research won’t happen until the Federal government changes its policies about cannabis and removes it from Category 1. Not even opiates (except heroin) are Category 1. This is during an epidemic of opiate overdose deaths. The only way there will be more research and pertinent research is to get the government to reschedule cannabis.]
The head of the top federal medical research agency said in a new interview that marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug inhibits studies into the plant and prevents scientists from researching the effects of cannabis that consumers are obtaining from state-legal dispensaries in a growing number of states.
Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discussed the limitations imposed by the federal drug scheduling system during an appearance on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers that aired last week, saying that while he shares concerns about the potential health implications of smoking marijuana, research into the risks and benefits of cannabis is being impeded by current policy.
“Frankly, we know far too little about the benefits and risks of smoked marijuana,” Collins said. “There have been very few studies that have actually rigorously tested that.”
The director said scientists are in a “funny place” in the U.S. when it comes to cannabis, noting that in order to use federal funds to research the plant and its compounds, the products must come from a single source: a government-authorized farm at the University of Mississippi that cultivates marijuana that’s been widely criticized for lacking the properties associated with cannabis that’s commercially available in state markets.
“People don’t realize that I run a farm in Mississippi that grows marijuana because I’m required to do so,” Collins said, referring to the facility that’s licensed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which is part of NIH. “But that’s the only source that investigators can use, and it may be rather different than what you could get in one of the states where marijuana is now approved in terms of its constituents.”
“It’s going to be very hard to interpret data about smoked marijuana when the actual nature of the product is vastly different depending on where you got it” with respect to properties like THC and CBD content, he said.
“We’d really like to have studies where you’re studying those compounds in pure form so you can see what they’re doing,” he said. “But again because of various limitations of Schedule I limits, we are not able to do as much as we would like.”
Another “big deterrent” to research is the extensive series of hurdles that scientists must overcome to receive approval to study marijuana, Collins said. Researchers must be cleared by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and also submit an investigational new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration in order to conduct cannabis-involved clinical studies on humans.
The discussion on C-SPAN about scientific limitations came in response to a question about whether the marijuana industry is exerting any influence over federally approved research initiatives. While NIH faced criticism in 2018 over its handling of a study into potential benefits of moderate alcohol consumption because alcohol interests were actively engaging in the study process, Collins said the scientific community is not experiencing that kind of influence from cannabis businesses.
“I would not say at the present time that industry is attempting really to influence a lot of what we’re doing in the marijuana area,” he said, adding that NIH is currently putting about $150 million into marijuana research projects.
Collins and several other federal health officials have previously acknowledged that the Schedule I status of cannabis represents a significant barrier to research.
NIDA Nora Volkow said last year that “the moment that a drug gets a Schedule I, which is done in order to protect the public so that they don’t get exposed to it, it makes research much harder.”
Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said that cannabis’s federal scheduling status has presented “some challenges,” which have undermined the agency’s efforts to effectively test vaping products that contain THC amid an outbreak of lung injuries.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is trying to address the research problem concerning the lack of diverse cannabis products available to scientists. In a letter sent last month, 21 members of Congress urged DEA to let researchers obtain marijuana from state-legal dispensaries to more accurately assess the impact of products that consumers are using.
Federal Marijuana Prosecutions Keep Declining In Era Of Legalization, Chief Justice Reports
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.
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Federal Law A ‘Big Deterrent’ To Marijuana Research, Top U.S. Health Science Official Says was posted on Marijuana Moment.
Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Postal Service Unveils ‘Drug Free USA Forever’ Stamp Commemorating 1980s Anti-Drug Program
[Canniseur: Why would the Post Office release a stamp about a failed policy? The Postal service has always been a bit retro, but in 2019, releasing a stamp about failed policy is just strange. Even stranger are recent stamps for Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin John Lennon and a stamp glorifying the 1960s and its sex, drugs and rock and roll mantra.]
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is rolling out a new stamp design that pays tribute to 1980s-era drug prevention programs and promotes a “drug-free USA.”
The stamps, which will go on sale starting in October 2020, were announced at the conclusion of this year’s Red Ribbon Week last month, an annual occurrence first launched under the Reagan administration.
“This Drug Free USA Forever stamp will help further raise awareness about the dangers of drug abuse, and the toll it is taking on families and communities around our country,” Robert Duncan, chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, said in a press release. “The Postal Service is glad to do its part in marking Red Ribbon Week, and renewing our commitment to helping these efforts to educate youth about the dangers of illegal drugs.”
USPS explained that Red Ribbon Week originated after a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent was tortured and killed in Mexico while investigating drug traffickers in 1985.
“I am very pleased that the U.S. Postal Service will issue a stamp affirming our commitment to a drug-free America,” DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said. “This stamp will help raise awareness of the fight against drug addiction and honor those who have dedicated their lives to that cause.”
A description of the design states that the stamp “features a white star with lines of red, light blue and blue radiating from one side of each of the star’s five points, suggesting the unity necessary at all levels to effectively address drug abuse.”
USPS isn’t applying anti-drug messaging to the cannabis component CBD anymore, however. In September, the agency clarified that hemp-derived CBD products can be mailed under certain circumstances since the crop and its derivatives were federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.
For those with mailing needs who aren’t interested in supporting the notion of a “Drug Free USA,” USPS does have another stamp that recognizes the 50-year anniversary of the drug-fueled 1969 counterculture music festival Woodstock.
The stamp “features an image of a dove along with the words ‘3 DAYS OF PEACE AND MUSIC,’ evoking the original promotional poster for the festival,” USPS says.
Another option is a John Lennon Forever stamp, celebrating the iconic Beatles member and marijuana enthusiast who famously got “high with a little help” from his friends.
“Still beloved around the world, Lennon’s music remains an anchor of pop radio and continues to speak for truth and peace,” USPS wrote.
Top CDC Official Suggests Legal Marijuana Regulations Can Mitigate Vaping Injuries
Photo courtesy of Wikicommons.
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Original Post: Marijuana Moment: New Mexico Committee Gets Head Start On Marijuana Legalization For 2020 Session
[Canniseur: New Mexico rocks!!! I already knew that, but as the state legislature moves forward to create a legal adult-use cannabis market, it seems like they’re serious about making it happen. Certainly, the tax revenue won’t hurt the state at all. Will it keep people from driving to Colorado to purchase their cannabis? Who knows. A lot will depend on the tax structure and the quality of New Mexico weed.]
New Mexico lawmakers discussed the potential economic impact of legalizing marijuana in the state during a committee hearing on Wednesday.
The meeting of the legislature’s interim Economic and Rural Development Committee, which featured testimony from the chair of a governor-appointed cannabis working group, focused on issues such as a tax scheme for legal marijuana sales and the allocation of the resulting revenue.
While Pat Davis, the working group chair, touted the economic potential of the industry, he also recognized that “getting a business in marijuana is expensive—it costs about half a million to $1 million to open.” Given that, he said it was important to use revenue from cannabis sales to start a venture capital fund that could provide low-interest loans to disadvantaged communities to launch marijuana operations.
The committee convened one month after the Cannabis Working Group, formed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), released recommendations for a legal marijuana market. The governor aims to have a reform plan in place for the short 30-day legislative session starting in January 2020, meaning that New Mexico is positioned to potentially become the next state in the U.S. to legalize.
The working group’s report said New Mexico would gain 11,000 jobs and sales would reach $620 million annually within five years of implementation. Combined tax revenue from adult-use and medical cannabis sales would earn the state $100 million a year, they estimated.
Other recommendations included ensuring that prior marijuana convictions are expunged and prohibiting or restricting home cultivation.
Davis, who also serves as a member of the Albuquerque City Council, touched on a variety of these recommendations and emphasized that the working group wanted to incorporate law enforcement into conversations about legalization as legislative efforts move forward. He also said that marijuana would be “larger than most agricultural industries” once it’s legal in the state.
“New Mexico is ready for this,” he said. “We found that New Mexico has been doing this for 10 years already [with medical cannabis], and this is just a multiplier in terms of regulation and infrastructure. This is a real opportunity.”
Lawmakers also heard from Public Safety Department Secretary Mark Shea and University of New Mexico economics professor Sarah Stith.
Shea discussed the need to fund efforts to train officers as drug recognition experts and said agencies are looking forward to having field testing options to detect impaired driving.
In March, the House approved a bill that would legalize marijuana and provide for sales to be conducted primarily through state-run stores. A Senate committee advanced that bill, but it later stalled before reaching a floor vote in the chamber. The Cannabis Working Group said in September that it opposed a government-run marijuana model.
Senate President Mary Kay Papen (D) said this week that she is “not really enthusiastic” about legalization legislation but remains open to the possibility, the Associated Press reported.
Also this year, the legislature passed a bill decriminalizing cannabis possession, which was signed into law by the governor in April and officially took effect on July 1.
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.
New Mexico Committee Gets Head Start On Marijuana Legalization For 2020 Session was posted on Marijuana Moment.
Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Senate Approves Bill Protecting Medical Marijuana States From Federal Intervention
[Canniseur: The Senate passing anything that protects states from the wrath of the feds is almost a miracle in itself. This bill doesn’t quite go far enough, but it’s a start. It does not cover adult use cannabis states. And it doesn’t include the banking provisions so dispensaries don’t have to deal only with cash like the old dope dealer days, which is the situation they’re currently in.]
The Senate approved spending legislation on Thursday that extends a provision protecting medical marijuana states from federal interference—but the question remains as to whether a House-passed version with broader protections for all state cannabis programs could still be adopted in the final bill that’s sent to the president.
The so-called “minibus” appropriations legislation covers funding for Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development for the 2020 fiscal year.
The vote on the bill, which also includes new hemp and CBD-related language, was 84 to 9.
The medical cannabis provision in question prohibits the Department of Justice from using its resources to prosecute individuals acting in compliance with state laws. The rider has been in place and renewed each year since 2014.
But after the House passed a Justice Department spending bill in June that for the first time would extend those protections to all state cannabis programs, including those allowing recreational use and sales, some advocates hoped the Senate would follow suit. In the lead up to a committee markup where that would have happened, however, several senators told Marijuana Moment that the prospects were unlikely, as congressional leaders made a bicameral agreement not to add new policy riders in the appropriations process unless agreed to by leadership on a bipartisan basis.
Now the only chance that Congress will send the broader provision to President Trump’s desk for 2020 is if negotiators on a bicameral conference committee agree to put the House language in the final package, though there is a chance that the larger chamber could simply approve the bill as passed by the Senate in an effort to avoid a government shutdown that would occur if no spending legislation is signed into law by November 21.
“It’s our hope that the House will insist that today’s minibus appropriations package include the provision to restrict the Department of Justice from interfering with state-legal marijuana programs that passed with bipartisan support,” said Justin Strekal, political director for NORML.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a separate amendment to the large-scale appropriations bill last week that would have called on the attorney general to study the criminal justice implications of marijuana legalization, but the measure was not considered on the Senate floor.
The medical marijuana protections language isn’t the only cannabis-related rider that has advanced via the spending process this year. The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved legislation that includes existing policies barring Washington, D.C. from using its local tax dollars to implement a legal marijuana market, in addition to a provision providing funds to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enact regulations for a legal hemp program.
The latter language is included in the minibus the Senate approved on Thursday, as are report provisions urging the Food and Drug Administration to issue enforcement discretion guidelines for CBD, encouraging the Farm Credit Administration to provide services to hemp businesses and supporting “competitive USDA grants for hemp projects.”
The hemp riders are timely given that USDA unveiled draft rules for hemp, which was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, on Tuesday. The interim final rule will be formally adopted following a 60-day public comment period.
Another House-passed appropriations bill also includes protections for banks that work with the marijuana industry, and the rider preventing D.C. from establishing a cannabis market was removed from the chamber’s version of the legislation.
While the Republican-controlled Senate is mostly sticking to the agreement not to add new policy riders to appropriations legislation, it could soon take up a separate, standalone marijuana bill: the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would allow banks to service cannabis businesses without being penalized by federal regulators.
The House overwhelmingly approved that legislation in September, along largely bipartisan lines, and the chair of the Senate Banking Committee said recently that he plans to take up the legislation in his panel before the year’s end. He also outlined several changes he’d like to see to the House-passed version in an interview with Marijuana Moment.
Senate Approves Bill Protecting Medical Marijuana States From Federal Intervention was posted on Marijuana Moment.