When a product goes mainstream, you can count on the government to try and regulate it. And you can count on insidious corporations like Monsanto to try and profit from it. In America, we have a history of prospectors willing to take an entrepreneurial risk for the sake of future profit. So even though our favorite substance is still derided and illegal in many parts of this great land, corporate greed supersedes the law and is making a play to usurp money and rights from marijuana growers and retail weed sellers.

You may not even have been aware that there are patent wars going on right now. The cannabis plant has been registered by the U.S. patent office. What are the implications for dispensaries and consumers of pot? We need to be aware of what’s going on. Because if corporations take over, what will happen to the little guys, from your local pot farmer to every individual in the supply chain? We need to stay vigilant and start a grassroots effort, if necessary, to keep “the man” out of our business.

“The Cannabis Industry Annual Report,” a thorough document published by New Frontier Data, reports there are two patents that could potentially cover more than 50 percent of the strains of marijuana currently on the market. The ramifications are far-reaching, and we fear the grasp of greedy capitalists who will profit while the true believers, the early adopters, and the real workers lose and suffer.

What will big business and big pharma do with these patents on the plants we love? They will monopolize an industry that has been tended by and blossomed under the stewardship of small growers and hardworking individuals. They could patent formulas and medicine, and drive up the price of plants. Who will have the right to the intellectual property of these strains? Our industry will be stolen out from under us, and what will happen to the honest businesses we have built?

Pot is already becoming big business. It is soon to be valued at close to $40 billion. You can bet that fact is not lost on those who seek only monetary gain. We thought we could enjoy running a legal business without fear or persecution. We thought we could make and market a product we deeply appreciate and support ourselves and our families in the process. This is our time. We can’t let the man take over what is rightfully ours.

What are the reasons for patenting a plant? Who benefits? Who will profit? Will we all have to lawyer up (again). We thought those days were behind us. These are the questions we must ask if we want to stay relevant in the market we created. We want the space to remain inclusive. The principles and philosophy on which it was founded honor the small farmer, the ambitious entrepreneur. Keep reading the news and take social and political action, if necessary. If we don’t fight for our rights, no one will.

Visit us at The Gallery to exchange ideas. We are always here to engage in meaningful dialogue about the marijuana industry, the best new products and accessories, art, music, film and anything else on your mind. We are more than a weed dispensary. We want to create a salon here in Washington, a place where we value aesthetics and ideas, the beautiful and the good. This is a gathering place. Come down to join the conversation.

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Always enjoy responsibily.