Health Freedom AllianceCrushed Beneath the Medicine WheelBy Kassy FatoohIn a scheme they think capable of making billions, a US corporation not only plans to market a delivery system for medicinal cannabis, but also hopes to cut out small time farmers and private growers by introducing prohibitive protocols through state health departments.In the course of following the medical story of myalgic encephalomyelitis, I've learned things I wish I didn't know about the big business of medicine, about government agencies charged with public health, and about Big Pharma's vendetta against alternative healing practices.Our pain is their payday. Today's story is one of cold avarice.The corporation is called MMDS: Medical Marijuana Delivery Systems LLC, marketing its medical cannabis delivery system through its "Medicine Wheel" subsidiary. They hold this patent for the Tetracan transdermal patch: like Nicoderm, but it delivers cannabinoids instead of nicotine.They advertise it as providing all the benefits of medical marijuana, without the "health-destroying smoke."
NBC News Jim Alekson, president of Medical Marijuana Delivery Systems, first planned to market the Tetracan patch to pet ownersThe principal is Jim Alekson, a multi-firm entrepreneur about whom, more later. So, isn't that a great thing, this Tetracan patch that is promised to hit the sales counters at dispensaries in the second quarter of this year?Tetracan publicity ignores the fact that there are many other delivery systems already available, as alternatives to smoking. A patient can consume cannabis in baked goods, dissolve a lozenge under the tongue, take tinctures and other extracts, and get the health benefits without the "risk" of smoking.Right: I don't use unmotivated quotation marks, so, "risk?"Tetracan publicity also ignores this study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Twenty years of research have proven that smoking moderate amounts of marijuana daily over years actually improves pulmonary function in comparison not only with tobacco smokers but with healthy non-smoking controls.Theories as to why this is, suggest the credit may go to biophysics: the exercise of pulling cannabis smoke into the lungs, holding one's breath, then exhaling; or biochemistry: the anti-inflammatory action of cannabis.Though JAMA itself didn't emphasize the point, other authors picked up on and publicized this fact that marijuana smoking apparently improves lung capacity. In this article, for instance, one of the study's authors is quoted:"We don't know for sure," he said, "but a very reasonable possibility is that THC may actually interfere with the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."Nevertheless, MMDS is pushing the benefits of their transdermal patch as a healthier alternative to smoking, via its "Medicine Wheel Project."Page through it and you'll see some amazing things, like, yes, here are the billions, on page 12:TOTAL GROSS REVENUE: $2,843,540,662Now, to make even more money by paying less than the usual costs of launching a pharmaceutical product, they're cleverly trying to play both sides of the game with government agencies, avoiding FDA requirements by representing the patch as an alternative therapy...The TETRACAN™ Patch does not require U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval because it will be marketed as a holistic therapy in the same manner as Medical Marijuana is marketed and sold through Medical Marijuana Dispensaries across the United States. (Plan, page 7)...while simultaneously acting to keep marijuana's status different from any herb like basil that anybody could grow in their garden, or even a medicinal herb which patients could be licensed to grow, as it is now in Medical Marijuana states: MMDS plans to manipulate the law to further their monopoly beyond the patented patch and into growing rights. The Plan states, on lucky page 13,"There are no Rules, Regulations or Protocols governing the manner in which Medical Marijuana is cultivated, harvested or processed in any of the Medical Marijuana States or the District of Columbia."The Medicine Wheel Project LLC, an associate company of MMDS, plans to introduce Growing Protocols to State Health Departments as it begins to organize the Medical Marijuana Industry under one umbrella organization.Emphasis added because I'm aghast at the blatant intent to influence state health departments to serve corporate ends.So that's where politics play a role. Remember the name Jim Alekson, from above? He's the principal in the patch company, and heads up many intriguingly related business ventures.Here he is playing politics with a friendly article. Touting the jobs to be created by the medical marijuana industry, Medicine Wheel has been blogging up the UK cannabis movement, engaging in friendly chats on a UK forum, and Alekson got his blog reposted on the official website of single-issue, pro-cannabis UK political party CLEAR (formerly Cannabis Law Reform).CLEAR leader Peter Reynolds appeared on the scene only recently, taking over the party with a massive vote of nearly 40 members, and changing its name and direction, while censoring and even ousting anyone who questioned his policies. More on that story can be read here and here.Meanwhile, back in the USA, it could prove interesting to delve into the names and natures of politicians and perhaps tribal leaders supporting Alekson's scheme. Medicine Wheel is an interesting name for the project, with its mellow, First Nations overtones. But this Kimosabe Connection isn't the only business headed by Alekson. His interest in things tribal appears to extend beyond image, or even medicine. Spinning the wheels to make some deals...For example, it's also about real estate develoment of tribal lands ......within the scope of his broader real estate goals as the Alekson Group ......plus, a huge contract to provide electricity to tribal lands .......within the broader scope of Energy Pointe Partners, which is yet another Alekson company......and if it's not enough of a monopoly to own a piece of politics, a patent, growing rights, land and energy, there are also the industrial scale hydroponic greenhouses mentioned on Alekson's profile at LinkedIn.A friend suggested that all this might be empty scheming with no money behind it, but it seems from Alekson's creds on pages 40-49 of his stock offering that he really is accustomed to running with the big boys.Let me repeat the big numbers quoted for the transdermal patch trade alone:TOTAL GROSS REVENUE: $2,843,540,662Add real estate, greenhouse construction, energy supply and a growing monopoly, and potential profits are plenty motivation for all the behind-the-scenes political manipulation implied in corporate documents, and more.None of this vast corporate empire is in the best interest of patients, of course, who typically suffer from the doings of Big Pharma --- not even Big Pharma in Alternative Medicine clothing is actually helpful to medical cannabis patients.As it currently stands in a Medical Marijuana state like my own, patients can buy, carry and use medicinal cannabis and cultivate it for their own use, and it can also be grown by licensed farmers with an agreement to supply it only to licensed dispensaries. Patients here can obtain high quality, organic cannabis in a variety of strains specifically developed with high levels of the compounds that best address their specific pain, inflammation or other health issues, from a safe, state-licensed dispensary; or simply grow their own.Everyone from the patients who require those varied strains to the growers who developed the strains, to the general public which is asked to criminalize actions because they run counter to corporate profit, everyone stands to lose, if Medicine Wheel gains its ends. Cannabis helps so many conditions from cancer to MS to Alzheimer's, plus is enjoyed by recreational users with far less danger than alcohol or cigarettes.The battle against prohibition doesn't end with legally-grown medicinal cannabis, and it can only be set back further by interference from a multi-billion dollar patent medicine show. The ultimate objective of cannabis campaigning is to get cannabis beyond the medicine cabinet and into the mainstream as a healthy alternative to dangerous substances used socially and for relaxation, such as alcohol and cigarettes.This could cost a lot of corporations a lot of money, but think what it would save taxpayers by abolishing the prosecution of all cannabis users. Some 20 million American citizens have been convicted of marijuana offenses since 1937. In 2005, alone, 800,000 Americans were arrested on pot charges, costing taxpayers over a billion dollars.Now, whose pockets do we want to put a billion dollars into? Jim Alekson's, or the taxpayers'? And whom do we wish to see benefit from the health-giving properties of cannabis? Patients, or profiteers? We need to be vigilant, lest AgriCannaBusiness squeeze small farmers out of one more market, and lest patients be denied the right to grow our own few plants for personal use.Note: since I first drafted this blog post, news has come out in Canada that shows the collusion of governments and corporations to keep cannabis profitable, as it's currently playing out in interpretation and enforcement of Canadian law:Health Canada is now in the process of consulting with the marijuana community to reorganize the program, and has proposed eliminating personal production licences and setting up a system of large-scale commercial growers. Established medical marijuana dispensaries were not mentioned in the government's new plans.These are the multi-billion-dollar shenanigans we have to be on the lookout for, worldwide.Even if you get compassionate medical cannabis laws passed, the governments and corporations collude to make it impossible to grow your own or operate small growing operations that serve local dispensaries.The result: cannabis is just more Agribusiness and Big Pharma. There's no deal, partnerWho's your real partner?Could there be just a chanceThat you've got some heavy clients?...Who'd ever think it?Such a squalid little endingWatching him descendingJust as far as he can goI'm learning things I didn't want to know...Everybody's playing the gamebut nobody's rules are the same.Nobody's on nobody's side!~ Chess, the Musical
Kassy FatoohKassy Fatooh blogs as "Creek" at "It's only ME, it's not my mind." This is her first contribution to Toke of the Town.She is a native of Northern California, a writer, a mama of teens, and a sufferer from ME, which in the United States if often mislabeled "chronic fatigue syndrome."