Medicine: For Health or Profit?

By James Collins

On March 7th 2013 a United States patent was filed by G.W. Pharmaceuticals’ for a cannabis based cancer treatment.  That is both really great, and really terrible.  As a sign of the coming end of prohibition, and an end to the pervasive lie that cannabis has no medicinal value, it is fantastic.  As a specter of what form medicinal cannabis might assume in the foreseeable future, it is a grim prospect.

Medicine can either serve the goal of making profit, or it can place humanity first.  Those two goals are often mutually exclusive.  Things which quickly and effectively cure disease are not nearly as profitable as symptomatic treatments that allow the patient to wallow in illness for years, consuming a king’s ransom in patented drugs in the process.

We need to ask ourselves what is more important, health or money?  The same corporation has already patented a simple cannabis tincture for the treatment of chronic pain.  It’s called Sativex.  Now they want to patent every molecule to be found within the cannabis plant itself.

Otsuka and GW Pharmaceuticals attempt to patent preparations of "Phytocannabinoids" (herbal cannabinoids) for the treatment of Cancer

US patent application for Phytocannabinoids treatment of cancer.

This is an issue people need to take up with their governments, around the world, not just where this patent was filed.  This bit of paperwork could be the beginning of a global race to patent every possible application of the most versatile plant on Earth.  There could come a time that smoking a joint is not a criminal offence, but an infringement upon some multi-national corporations’ patent rights.

It’s out of the bong and into the lighter.

It raises an underlying concern about medicine, and I think cannabis could become the poster child for publicly-funded medical research.  If one corporation is allowed to patent a medicine which has been in use around the world for thousands of years, it restricts access to health and wellness.  Is physical well-being and the right to safety and security not a fundamental human right?

I’m not speaking badly of profit in and of itself.  Business makes the world go ‘round, and we are all in one way or another slaves to money.  We may have fantasies of a utopian society where everybody has everything they want, and nobody suffers in any way; but those fantasies are just that.  Ultimately, there has always been a competitive element to human society, and I personally doubt we will see that change any time in the near future.

Sativex herbal cannabisNot everything in our society is left to profit though, is it?  We have publicly funded roads.  Our police and court system are public institutions.  Most modern nations have national health care systems, where everyone is given access to some basic level of medicine.  We do publicly fund those things which are too important to be left to the cold-hearted motivations of profit guided corporations.  Why should medical research and development be any different?

Some things aren’t that important.  It isn’t going to end anybody’s life if the development of new forms of television set is left to the self-important focus of corporate giants like Sony and Panasonic.  It isn’t going to hurt us if the new iPhone is slightly inefficient because Apple rushed it out the door to meet the deadline promised at the shareholders meeting.  Restricting the development of cannabis based cancer treatments is leaving people to grow sick and die.  That just doesn’t sit right with me; I’m guessing you the reader feel much the same way.

We need to address the issue of what is public and what is private, and I propose that medical R&D should be public domain.  Private corporations should be restricted from filing patents for medical technologies, and all people should freely share in the benefits of those developments.  How would we do that?  Simple; the same way we fund the courts, the police, the roads and the doctor who diagnosed your cancer in the first place.  We fund them with our taxes.

Cannabis activists are already up on the facts surrounding the medicinal value of this plant.  They are in a unique position to recognize the complex issues surrounding this development.  Why should a ruthless multi-national be allowed to rake in profits off of a medicine that anybody could make in their kitchen with the right know how and a few easily obtained materials?

Cannabis doesn’t belong to G.W. Pharmaceutical.  It belongs to you, and me, and everyone else who ever lived and is yet to live.  Cannabis is freeware in the public domain.  If we let a small group of wealthy investors get a death grip on our favorite plant, we will be paying through the nose for the gift of nature until the end of time.  Let’s put a foot down now, shall we?

James Collins is a Canadian blogger, author and activist.

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    • My suggestion would be to start by hounding your MP about it, write to them, phone them, email them. Start asking political parties what their stance on health care and the public domain is. Do they support a private corporations right to patent a naturally occurring phenomenon?

      • Seems like a pointless time wasting exercise to me.
        Why would you ask those who restrict you to stop placing restrictions on you when they can only do so because you consent to them doing so.

        An unjust law is no law at all.
        You have an inherent duty to not follow unjust law, it is the law.

        • That’s fascinating TCup, in one post you say that something is pointless from the outset, and just a couple of posts down you lambast somebody for giving up before they begin. You’re all over the place.

          Countless legal challenges have been waged, all of which have failed. The law is written by politicians. It is called the legislative process, you might have heard, no?

          The issue I raise is larger than cannabis. It was about patent rights and medical technologies. It is perfectly legal to patent a medical technology right now. I wish to see that change.

          Think outside the bong and the courtroom. You insist something is a waste of time, criticize others for giving up before they waste time, and offer no real strategy yourself. Thanks for coming out.

          • Hello James

            He who distinguish well, learns well.
            Can you distinguish between me saying that lobbying your MP is pointless, but yet fighting itself is not pointless. Because the law is very clear on this subject?

            Probably not!

            Countless legal challenges have tried, and failed, and yet I know of one that has already achieved more than any off these previous cases did. Irony I suppose considering I actually know what I am talking about, Parliament may write new laws, but the courts can declare them as old.

            The issues you raise are irrelevant to what I can raise, and I had not really commented on the article for that reason. Hearing people talk about what can be done, when I am actually in the process of doing something about it, makes me want to assure them that all hope is not lost, even if they should have no hope in their corrupted MP,s

            I will ignore your final paragraph as ignorance on your part.
            Mainly because I could both school you on law, and I am currently involved in a case that is challenging the lawfulness of Sativex in the first place. I kind of have put my money where my mouth is, rather than putting my mouth in a place I know nothing about.

        • “An unjust law is no law at all. You have an inherent duty to not follow unjust law, it is the law.”
          Has that remark ever been successful in a court?

          • Yes, that is why it is a legal maxim.

            The legal maxim is as follows.

            Lex iniusta non est lex, An unjust law is no law.
            Ubi jus incertum, ibi jus nullum. Where the law is uncertain, there is no law.

            An except from a very famous English case law. William Mead & Penn Quaker trial.
            “Crime is the committing of an act of injustice with malice aforethought. It
            is not simply the act of breaking the law, for the unjust law is itself
            the embodiment of crime and, as we shall see hereinafter, the upholding
            or enforcing of any unjust law is a criminal act per se; and recognized
            as such by domestic and international law.” William Penn.

            Iniquum est alios permittere, alios inhibere mercaturam. It is inequitable to permit some to trade, and to prohibit others. 3 Co. Inst. 181.

            Find me on facebook and you will find out lots more.

          • “… the upholding or enforcing of any unjust law is a criminal act per se…”
            ” It is inequitable to permit some to trade, and to prohibit others. ”

            With those in mind, you are claiming, indirectly, that every Police arrest and Judicial conviction, of someone growing, owning and/or selling cannabis, in part or whole, is a criminal offence committed by the Police and Judicial Service, as GW Pharma are allowed to do it, under licence, but no one else is, as no one else is being allowed such a licence by the Home Office, and is contrary to the principles of freedoms detailed in Magna Carta.

            Is that what you’re saying?

          • No, that seems to be what you are saying.

            If I quote something how can I be claiming anything?

            Qui bene distinguit, bene docet. He who distinguishes well, learns well. 2 Co. Inst. 470.

            I was making no claims in my first response to you, and I certainly am not indirectly stating those things you infer. I would directly make the claim that GW Pharma is operating unlawfully given current statutes in the UK. Not sure if I would even consider suggesting the police and the courts were acting unlawfully. Not sure why you raise the Magana Carta, its significance in this instance is minor.

          • You deliberately quoted that the upholding or enforcing an unjust law was itself a criminal act. Since the Police and Judiciary both uphold and enforce this obviously unjust law, you were clearly making the remark, by referencing that quote, to imply them both of being criminal in doing so.

            That may not have been your intention but it is what you’ve impressed upon me by doing so.

            The Magna Carta, et al, remark I made was in application of what defines the basis of a crime; Loss, Damage, Harm. None of which could be honestly said about the growth, ownership or use of this plant.

            Or have I misunderstood what you meant?

          • Many people misunderstand me so not to worry, I also do not mind taking the time to explain, and most come around in the end.

            I quoted that quote because you asked if this argument of an unjust law not being a law, had been used in court. That quote was from a court transcript. It was deliberate to show you this quote to substantiate its use in a UK court, it was not deliberate for you to infer that this some how means the courts and police are breaking the law. You see there is a fundamentally point that needs to be proven first, that the law is both unjust and unlawful, until that happens then everything is considered to be done legal and proper. So again I assure you that I was not implying what you are inferring.

            A basic crime is not the same as a “quasi” crime which is fundamentally what Cannabis cultivation, possession etc come under. It is like a crime, not a crime, so in the sense of the Magna Carta it does not really become applicable, unless you are denied due process etc. (Rebellion is not growing weed)

          • So… are you saying that the Police/Judiciary are not guilty of upholding an unjust law because it has not been proven in court to be an unjust law to arrest/prosecute someone for cannabis cultivation etc.?

            I have come across a number of instances where juries have thrown out cases and nullified the court’s authority to prosecute due to their claiming the cultivation/possession/use of cannabis is not a crime because they believed the law unjust.

            Can those instances not be deemed as evidence that the law here is unjust and should not be enforced; thus making any following Police arrests and Judicial prosecutions unjust and/or unlawful and therefore criminal in upholding an unjust law, for a court case specifically arranged to challenge the legitimacy of this law?

            Not being pedantic; genuinely interested.

            (FYI – Im not on FB and your website domain name has ran out, as of 16/3/2013)

          • Yes, the claim can be made, but as it stands they are considered to be acting lawfully, until proved otherwise.

            There was number of acquittals pre 2005, since then due to the Quayle ruling, there has not been any. If you know of one that was acquitted after this date, I would be extremely interested in the case citation.

            Answering if the pre 2005s case could be considered is a very long answer, in short yes, if they are used correctly and a judicial review had been called, then this and other such cases could be used as evidence for an issue of delcaration of incompatibility. This would be secondary and supporting evidence, the primary fact would still need to be established that the law infringes on a right, and therefore is unlawful. Without that no effective challenge can be made to the public right that is used to legitimacy this law that in our opinion is unjust.

            Hope that helps.

          • It does and thank you for this correspondence.
            The last case I remember being acquitted, though I’m not sure that was the term used, was mentioned some months ago in this site’s publication. I regret I have forgotten the specific details of the case; save for the jury nullifying the law as unjust, in some way, and the man walked free. A jury’s prerogative to over-ride the letter of the law as it conflicted with the spirit of the law; or something along those lines.

            That being said, I suspect this matter could only be clarified completely in a court if someone specifically Tried the “Law” itself; though how one would do that; whether against the State or Crown or Parliament or Gov’t or CPS, I don’t know, nor do I suspect it could be done would a serious amount of time and money available.

            Perhaps it’s best to wait and see if Theresa May is finally going to get her finger out and look, not so much at the Portuguese way but, the USA’s way of legalising it for “recreational” use. Perhaps a referendum though the people would take the pressure of decision off her shoulders.

            Anyway… thank you.

          • 🙂 I always like to keep things relevant, even if the relevance is not always clear.

            with the trial of the Quaker William Penn which asserted the (de facto)
            right of a jury to pass a verdict contrary to the facts or law.”

            I believe this is the de-facto right that you speak off, however here in the UK it is called jury annulment or jury equity, not the American equivalent of nullification, minor I know but relevant none the less.

            Its source actually comes from the Bible as “he who may condemn may also acquit” is highlighted numerous times. As does the “unjust law is no law at all” quote. This book and UK law courts have very very close connections.

            The case you speak of sounds like Mr Ditchfields case, that has since been overturned. I suggest this case mainly because of the comment about the spirit of the law was used in this case.

            “That being said, I suspect this matter could only be clarified
            completely in a court if someone specifically Tried the “Law” itself;
            though how one would do that; whether against the State or Crown or
            Parliament or Gov’t or CPS, I don’t know, nor do I suspect it could be
            done without a serious amount of time and money available.”

            It can be done, I know as I am in the process of doing. If enough time has been dedicated to understanding the whole situation, then money is no issue or object due to legal aid, and the criminal nature of the charges against the accused, and the criminality intent of violating a right.

            What that means is if you get the court to accept that “Your” rights are being violated, rather than you violating another’s, then the court is duty bound to investigate this and prioritise it over the charges laid against the accused. If that is then proven, then the law would be deemed incompatible with this right, then any action taken against you would become unlawful, Including prosecution.

            The Quaker case is fundamentally the human right to freedom of expression and religion. The Aquittal is common law as is the juries right to judge both the facts and the law. (Bushell Case)
            The case I am involved in is using the human right to health.

            It is the human right being violated that is key of why a crime is not being committed, but rather being committed against the accused. Human right violations take precedence in UK courts and in the common law.

            Teresa May wants to remove your Human Rights, I have know faith in her or the corruption her and the conservative party stand for. They violate Human rights in many avenues of life, and not just Cannabis. There record is not good and I see no reason why they would seek to improve on that record. Of course you are free to do so.

            Sorry if I got a little long in this reply, just felt the need to add those final points for clarity. Thoroughly enjoyed conversing with you, so thank you.

          • I have a friend and her husband that are also engaged in a constitutional court battle with the CPS about their right to health and appropriate medicine; being, in this case, cannabis. The CPS seems hell-bound to constantly change the times and dates of their “trial”, over passed year, and now they have to await a new date. Disheartening for them.

            I hope you, and they, are successful, and I will keep what you’ve written in mind for the future, if and when needed.

          • I have a funny feeling I know who you are talking about, mainly because it fits the description you outline above. If it is, then I hope Liz benefits from my own case that may conclude before hers, and her Husbands. I will leave any more information there, as I can not converse further about this case without permission to do so.

          • I understand and will keep Liz and her husband appraised of appropriate beneficial info like this when and where I can.
            Please update me, or them directly, of your case result when it happens.

    • In a court room, where else?

      We live by the rule of law, know the law and you will know how to make a stand.
      It is not because politicians know the law that is the problem, you not knowing the law is.

  1. I just hope they spend millions upon millions developing it, then cannabis is legalised and all their profits go down the drain from a cheaper generic treatment. Though the hypocrisy is outrageous, pharmaceutical companies should care more for the health of the world than their profit margins, but that is the joy of a capitalist society.

  2. I am glad I have been blocking and stopping cancer with marijuana for 45 years,,my sympathy goes out to all that feared the law and have lost their lives and security in their fights against cancer,,except drug warriors,,die azzholes.

  3. I don’t think the claim that drugs are either for health or profit is true in every case. I’m sure it is in some cases, even many. But the fact is, drugs are expensive because they cost hundreds of millions to develop, and in a market economy, without the price tag, they wouldn’t be able to go on producing drugs.

    That said, I’ve yet to read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma. Perhaps I’ll be eating those words when I get hold of it.

  4. The research was done a long time ago mate. And you can make what GW Pharma make in own your kitchen for about £20. All you need is some honey, 100% alcohol and some weed As Antonio said Rick Simpson must be pissed off as has he not done time in jail for curing peoples cancer

  5. But have to say I’m happy for the people that need it. Thing is I use it for bi-poller and a can never see them using it for that. And yes I have been on a lot of them Pharma pills and hhhmmmm… zombie land to me. Where as I have strains I smoke in the morning, afternoon, and night…. work rest and play. And yes it works thanks

  6. It doesn’t mean they are patenting nature, they are simply and purely (doing what many have done in many ways for many years 😉 ) exploiting nature for their benefits while aiding the enforcement that holds back others (you and me) from reaping the benefits. Hemp/Cannabis will follow suit like all other commodities/resources (if they get their own way, which they won’t). smart of them to try, smart of them to have friends in the right paper signing places – but it’s all short term greed. long term unfortunately, will take a bit longer, but it’s still on it’s way 😉

  7. Tragic..& no, I believe they may manufacture the synthetic version, or a combo. This is being done, NOT to cure cancer, its for profit. There will be caveats attached for cancer patients, such as under obligation to take meds, chemo and other meds. It will be illegal to grow to smoke or make the oil, worldwide!! What can we do about this?

  8. I agree it is totally immoral to treat people as criminals to favour big farma!! governments dont care about deaths from tobacco, alcohol or prescription drugs but marihuana is forbidden, unless big farma gets it patented, what a bunch of greedy bastards !!

  9. I have seen patent in ua also speak not only of treatment of cancer, also of prevention of.. Also i have heard GW Ph gives samples to dead sick patients. Has any one heard of that ? Well, read this. This came from a ptient on sativex in British Columbia, Canada;

    $751.40 CDN – 566 euro / 478 br. pound / 742 usa dollar.
    for 3 x 10 ml vials…33 days / 8 sprays/ day.

    Quote; ,, Anyway, here in Canada Sativex ( Nabiximols ) is sold in boxes containing 3 x 10 mL vials. Each vial contains 270mg of THC and 250 mg of CBD. I think this is the maximum dosage prescribed with is 8 sprays per day for 33 days supply. It does burn your mouth and makes your throat sore. It wouldn’t be possible to take enough medicine by this method to cure anything, likely why those MS patients who get it for free in the UK have been on it for so long, it’s enough medicine to stop the progress of MS but surely not enough to cure a cold which is just what they want, manage illness and cure nothing. Anybody seen pateints getting sativex presribed AND getting reimbursement ? please contact me

  10. The government is corrupt by wealthy bankers and investors.
    They’ll pattern it in this way, they’ll also make the price of standard bud gradually higher through tax.
    It’s needs to be fully decriminalised not legalised for government profit, which will happen. If people start to realise the potential of it in medicine, then what are the huge pharmaceutical companies going to do? I don’t personally know, but I know it’s not going to be ‘that’s fine, wel stop making millions of crappy pills that barely work’. Same with oil companies like BP; hemp oil is never going to be used to run cars, else what was the point in every war since ww2? What would be the point in cutting down so much rainforest if we could just grow hemp for cotton? (5:1 efficient compared to Forrest wood)

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