By: Cecil King
Missouri’s Non-Compete Cannabis Laws
Growing legal medical cannabis in Missouri may come with some additional licensing costs in the future, if a Canadian-based biosciences company is successful.
Veritas Pharma, Inc., a cannabis biotech company headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., intends to develop unique cannabis cultivars, or plant strains, and establish a pharmacological profile of those cultivars in the search for specific strains that fight disease conditions.
Based upon their new strain development outcomes, Veritas will initiate clinical trials on promising candidates to prove clinical utility. Ultimately, Veritas’ business model is to patent protect these strains and license their use to the burgeoning medical cannabis market.
Using a virtual research and development model, Veritas has built exclusively partnerships in the industry including with Cannevert Therapeutics, a high-level research & development company headed by Dr. Michael J. A. Walker, president. As a self-proclaimed “serial drug discoverer,” Dr. Walker says “we could get somewhere significant within a relatively short period of time. And a relatively short period of time in drug discovery is one or two years.”
The medical cannabis industry is one of the most exciting segments of the pharmaceutical industry. Bank of America estimated the U.S. medical cannabis industry is valued at $2.9 billion, and is projected to grow between $10.8 to $35 billion in five years.
Veritas’ goal is to grow new cannabis strains that provide clinical utility for the effects of cancer, epilepsy, muscle spasms, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, stress disorders, including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), inflammatory diseases and glaucoma.
Since Vertias is located in Canada, it will obtain legal protection for its patented cultivars under Canada’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act. Under this act, two strains of cannabis have already been granted “protected” status and cannot be grown legally without the patent holder’s permission or license.
In the U.S., Veritas will use the precedent set by a recently awarded U.S. Patent to protect its new cannabis inventions. Biotech Institute, LLC, in Los Angeles, CA, was awarded patent US 9095554 B2 in 2015 completely under the radar and without any media fanfare. Their hybrid cannabis strain was bred with unique genetics and had a terpene profile where myrcene is not dominant.
Veritas’ legal team is confident they could also file and gain U.S. patents for their unique cannabis strains.
Many U.S. based cannabis breeders are suddenly waking up to the fact that, even though cannabis is a federally illegal plant to grow and posses, unique cannabis strains can be patented. U.S. Patent and Trade Office officials will accept and process patent applications for individual varieties of cannabis, along with innovative medical uses for the plant and other associated inventions.
Cannabis prohibition over the decades has led to a steady stream of new and potent strains of cannabis bred by enthusiast underground growers. However, as these growers begin to realize they can seek patents for their innovative strains, traditional black market strains may slowly and quietly vanish into history.
If Missouri’s future legal cannabis growers have to wait several more years to enter the market, they may be limited to purchasing expensive patent-protected seeds from established biotech breeders who’ve already had a head start in cannabis strain development.
Missouri could attract enormous wealth developing designer cannabis strains to patent. The Show-Me state has a large bioscience footprint with many agriscience and bioscience companies ready and willing to compete for new cannabis strain development. But, Missouri citizens must first unlock the economic potential of legal cannabis by repealing the state’s “non-compete” prohibitionist laws.
The longer Missouri remains on the sidelines of the global “Green Rush” to legalized cannabis, it will be harder to catch up with other booming state economies and reap the financial benefits. The real tragedy is that Missouri will also miss the “Gold Rush”, or the second wave of financial opportunities – securing valuable U.S. patents for newly developed cannabis strains.