Angela Bacca authored an interesting article on the Jamaican Lion Genome project. As of 2019, all sequencing samples are mapped to the Jamaican Lion genome reference. has several useful tools for cannabis breeders.  This platform displays the relationships of the DNA sequences in cananbis plants (4Mb mini-Exome or 876Mb Whole Genome Shotgun) and the blockchain registration of these genetics to establish indisputable timestamps for proof of existence of various Cannabis “Varietals”, “Cultivars” or “Strains”. The generation of immutable timestamps not tied to the provider of your sequencing information is a very critical point. This point is often missed but very relevant after the Benzinga-Phylos Investor video ultimately shut the doors of the Open Cannabis Project (OCP).

This was a company that claimed to “protect” peoples IP by collecting their cannabis plants and sequencing them. They promised to put the sequence public to make them “open source” or prior art but in practice this publication didn’t happen for many years. To add insult to injury the CEO also went on video record claiming to have harvested the data and filed IP themselves. Other investor documents have surfaced confirming this was a premeditated data harvest as mentioned in the Benzinga videos statements.

Instead of publishing the valuable sequencing data, they created a ‘star’ on a visually appealing 3D PCA analysis (Principle Component Analysis) known as the “galaxy” with a report that was supposed to suffice as prior art.

The DNA sequencing information the USPTO could understand and work with. The USPTO even has guidelines on how to submit DNA sequence listings. The star on the galaxy leaves outsiders (like the USPTO) with very few tools to know if cannabis plant seeking protection fell into that private and black box coordinate system.

There are several reasons why this failed to generated prior art (see below) and ultimately this led to the dissolution of the Open Cannabis Project. The OCP was a non-profit organization the company formed to appear more innocent (Trojan horse) and entice more submissions to their sequencing harvest.

We submitted a letter to their BOD in 2016 expressing our concerns over the lack of Open data at the OCP and we believe this may have triggered a change in management for the better. As the newer BOD of this organization changed, it tried to become more independent from the company. They began to change their strategy but ultimately shut their doors as they deemed the deception too egregious to rebound from.

Had the company put the sequence public immediately, they may have succeeded in generating searchable prior art. This requires valid and most importantly reproducible sequencing. This later point is important and has NEVER been demonstrated by this group.

There are no peer reviewed publications of this companies methods. When the company has been pushed to describe its methods they provide fraudulent claims suggesting they are using the same methods as the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project pipeline relied on 2-4Kb cloned plasmids with 650bp Sanger Sequencing. The data Phylos eventually put into NCBI was clearly from 100bp PCR products on an 75bp Illumina platform. Orders of magnitude less reliable data than the Human Genome Project as these 10 fold shorter reads are harder to map than Sanger reads derived from cloned plasmids.

Ironically, one of the lead institutions for the Human Genome Project was Eric Lander’s group at the Whitehead Institute of MIT. This lab eventually expanded into the Broad Institute/MIT and they authored one of the lead DNA sequencing QC software packages that doesn’t appreciate the galaxy data. The galaxy sequence that was eventually placed public fails to pass the simplest sequence QC tools (authored by the Broad Institute/MIT) known as GATK and Picard. Specifically the Picard step known as Mark Duplicates rejects all of the data from these sequencing files as the PCR assay was designed to only have a single PCR amplicon cover a SNP and this leads to allele specific amplification in polymorphic genomes. This allele drop out destroys phylogenetic relationships and should be not be used for registering peoples hard earned IP. There is a 35 minute video describing the technical details here.

Patent Law is a complicated topic. DNA Sequence is not necessary but it can certainly help as the USPTO is well informed on how to search it and how to compare it. It is a universal coordinate system that best describes the genetics you hope to protect. The private coordinate system in the galaxy is unusable for an outsider to traverse as their coordinates are a blackbox and there is no way for you to scan a cultivar in the USPTOs hands against such a private database to ensure novelty. It was also constructed with non-peer reviewed methods and generated highly compromised DNA sequencing further obfuscating its utility.

Some misconceptions in the cannabis field.

“You can’t patent Federally illegal things”– False

You can patent Cannabis plants and extractions and Cannabis growing methods but you cannot trademark anything that is federally illegal. If your patent issues you may not want to use a US federal court to prosecute it prior to legalization but this is a topic you need an IP attorney for.

“You can’t patent living things”– False

While we don’t agree with this ruling, it is in place. Diamond vs Chakrabarty enabled the patenting of living things that have been human modified. Parke-Davis vs Mulford opened up the patenting of natural compounds if they have been human modified by a “learned hand” or even purified. This will likely play a role with cannabinoid extracts.

“Anything that has been grown and sold before is in the public domain and can not be patented”– True and False

True in concept but you need valid documentation to prove your strain existed in a business setting prior to the issuance of a patent that might claim your work. This is known as a prior use exemption. Many people don’t have this proper documentation as the black market didn’t like documentation and many websites censored cannabis content. This has led to the Biotech Institute LLC patents (9,642,3179,370,1649,095,554that many attest describe plants they grew long before the 2013 application of the patent.

Your act of selling your strain HAS NOT given you prior art protection if you have not documented it in a way the USPTO will find it and be able to compare it to other plants that are being sent in for patent protection. This is a very important point as the financial risks are asymmetric. Once a patent issues on a plant that looks just like yours, there is a presumption of validity of the issued patent. The cost for you to protest this patent that didn’t cite your work as prior art is known as an ex parte re-exam and can cost $100K+.

The stakes are high so don’t skimp on documentation. A simple picture of plant provides no way for the USPTO to know if your plant is identical to the one they are considering for novelty. Other descriptive features are required and we can look to the first few patents that have issued as the precedence that has been sent.

So what constitutes good documentation? This depends on which intellectual property protections you are looking for. Utility patents are the most valuable and are assessed by the USPTO. A good review on various plant IP strategies can be seen here: and are briefly discussed below. Dale Hunt also writes prolifically about this topic and describes some of the financials tiers you may want to consider for each strategy.

Jamaican Lion poster courtesy of Phase Genomics. We had a very productive relationship with Phase Genomics and their Hi-C methods were critical to assembly confirmation.

What does any of this have to do with

Many organizations have downloaded data and published peer reviewed manuscripts with the data. This means the data is trustworthy, reviewed and reproducible.

Outside of the expansive information you gain from DNA sequence, there are 5 very important IP functions it provides.

1)Places verified DNA sequence data of your strain public in 24 hours of generation and includes a Dash or Bitcoin transaction to verify the born on date on a publicly distributed global ledger than CAN NEVER BE EDITED.

This is important as the galaxy was editable and often displayed Admin Password to its users compromising its validity as a prior art repository. This publication step is optional and has certain unidirectional security features. The data put into the blockchain is not your sequence data but a cryptographic hash of the sequence data. People viewing the blockchain cannot discern your sequence but you can demonstrate how your sequence creates the astronomically unique hash in the blockchain transaction. Just performing the Blockchain transaction DOES NOT CONSTITUTE Prior art as your sequence has not been published. If you choose to put your sequence public, can host both the sequence files and links to the blockchain transactions but we advise all customers to download their VCF file and their FASTQ files and to NOT rely on MGC for hosting the data for eternity.

2)Scans your genome for the presence of the Bt:Bd allele mentioned in Claim 1 of the Biotech Institute LLC patents (claim 1 shown below).

3)Optionally collects terpene information also mentioned in many cannabis patents.

4) aligns all DNA sequencing to Jamaican Lion. This is a genome that closely matches (consult an attorney on this) the claims of the Biotch LLC patent and this genome has documentation dating back to 2011 where it won a San Francisco Cannabis cup. We have sequenced the ancestral mother genome and the recent seeds in circulation to verify these genetics. Comparing your sequence to something that has a prior date to the patent, can provide you with information regarding your potential infringement.

5)We compare your data to everything that has been deposited in NCBI as of 2018. This includes the compromised sequence Phylos eventually put public and the data Ryan Lynch published. It does not include the Sawler data yet as there are some ambiguous sample assignments in that data set that make this data untrustworthy at this point in time (Non-unique DNA barcodes). This is a function the Galaxy failed to do thus it was an incomplete database for proper prior art searching.

It is important to know that DNA sequence is NOT required to file a patent. It is very helpful as it is the best tool to precisely describe your plant but it is not the only way to do it. Dale Hunt explains this very well in the below article.

NONE: That’s How Much DNA Sequence You Need to Submit A Plant Patent Application

It is important to read the claims of a patent. You will note that the first patent issued on a cannabis plant uses a Bt:Bd allele and a chemotype to make claims about a plant. Genotype and Chemotype are the language that the USPTO seems to currently trust to describe a plant Utility patent. PVPs and Plant Patents have different requirements.

We are not Patent Attorneys! Please consult one. In our opinion, chemotypes alone are not adequate as they are not a fingerprint for a strain but instead a fingerprint of its environmental conditions and are very volatile and unstable. This is best shown in Oier Aizpurua-Olaizola et al. where the terpenes are shown to vary over the growth cycle of the plant while the cannabinoids are more fixed in expression and more anchored in their actual genotype.

Why you should care?

Many Cannabis plant patents are issuing and many more are published as Patent Applications. The Cannabis IP game is in full swing. You can disagree (as we do) with the ethics of plant patents. To ignore them as a result of this ethical protest may be financially devastating to you. We hope will help in not only teaching you about the genetics of breeding but also protecting your hard earned work either defensively or offensively with modern distributed ledger enabled documentation of your strains. This is not a replacement for good IP counsel. It is just a very affordable tool in the process.

 Why should you trust us?

You should not rely on trust. Trust is what has gotten us here. Trust in “Non-Profits”. Trust in peoples words. Trust in fancy 3D graphics. Trust in “people from Oregon”. None of these have panned out.  The cryptocurrency field was born on the principles that you should trust no one. The goal is to not trust 3rd parties but instead trust incorruptible cryptographic math and to dis-intermediate 3rd party risk. You should look at our actions to see if we are actively making products that remove 3rd party risk.

Some decentralizing actions to consider.

1)We built on a blockchain so your time stamps and genetics are on a distributed ledger we cannot edit or control. 90% of start ups fail. Knowing this we built a prior art repository that doesn’t rely on our survival or shifting business plans. You have your DNA sequence and the proof of its’ existence (a hash) is on a public ledger we can not control. Instead, it exists on a ledger that has secured billions of dollars of trust because it has proven to be IMMUTABLE for over a decade.

2)We manufacture tools that are the antidote to centralized private data harvesting. See our youPCR® product line that enables Point of Grow genetic testing so your DNA never has to leave your grow. There are more assays available to breeders today than Phylos even hopes to have established in the next 2 years. XY, CBDA, THCA, Powdery Mildew, Russet Mites, Botrytis. We would not build these tools if our business plan was to harvest your data and compete with you.

3)We put Cannabis genomes public in record time. In 2011, we sequenced Chemdawg and put it public in 60 days. This was the first Cannabis genome ever sequenced and placed public. We repeated this with Jamaican Lion with the generous support of the Dash Cryptocurrency. Proof of this sequence was not only funded by a distributed ledger but also hashed onto a distributed ledger (blockchain) to ensure immutable and rapid publication of a cannabis genome. The Funding of this project is public and on a distributed ledger. The Electronic lab notebook for the project is public and key experiments hashed into a blockchain. The Peer Review is public and hashed onto a blockchain. This is the most audit-friendly genomics project in history and it is public.

Dont believe us? What do experts in the sequencing field say about us?

Our team has a long history of open source publishing while making and publishing tools to weaken gene patents.

We would not do any of this if our plans were to become a breeder and compete with you.

These actions are in stark contrast to the galaxy which has no peer review with founders that have close to no publication record (n=1).

Claim examples from Lewis et al.

1. A Cannabis plant, or an asexual clone of said Cannabis plant, or a plant part, tissue, or cell thereof, which produces a female inflorescence, said inflorescence comprising: a) a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content that is at least 3%; b) a cannabidiol (CBD) content that is at least 3%; c) a terpene profile in which myrcene is not the dominant terpene; and d) a terpene oil content greater than about 1%; wherein the contents of THC and CBD comprise acidic and decarboxylated cannabinoids as measured by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and calculated based on dry weight of the inflorescence; wherein the terpene profile is defined as terpinolene, alpha phellandrene, beta ocimene, carene, limonene, gamma terpinene, alpha pinene, alpha terpinene, beta pinene, fenchol, camphene, alpha terpineol, alpha humulene, beta caryophyllene, linalool, caryophyllene oxide, and myrcene, and wherein the terpene oil content is the additive content of the terpenes in the terpene profile; wherein the terpene contents are measured by gas chromatography-flame ionization detection (GC-FID) and calculated based on dry weight of the inflorescence; wherein a representative sample of seed producing said plants has been deposited under NCIMB Nos. 42254, 42255, 42256, and 42258.

A partial List of Cannabis patents issued to date

Published Cannabis patent applications

Types of Plant Protection

Plant Patents: These cover Asexually reproduced clones (not tubers) and are quite narrow. While the patents do not require DNA sequence to submit, they likely will required DNA sequence to enforce and DNA is the best mechanism to prove clonality.

Plant Variety Protection Act: This covers sexually reproduced plants or seeds and these USDA recently opened up the process for hemp after the 2018 Farm Bill. These seeds need to be stabilized for them to achieve Variety status and USDA requires seed submissions to confirm this.

Plant Utility Patent: These are the broadest form of patents. They do not require DNA sequence but it certainly can help. The Biotech Institute LLC patent has a genotype and a chemotype in the first claim.

Technologies are being developed to make Double Haploid seeds that are clonal. It likely these may be protectable by all three methods.

Please contact us at if you have more questions about this vital aspect of the post legalization cannabis market.