Following his successful proposal last December, Kevin McKernan of Medicinal Genomics is once again asking the Dash network for funding, this time to improve the sequencing of the cannabis genome. In his first proposal, McKernan asked the network to fund a partnership-level sponsorship of the upcoming CannMed 2018 conference. He also received funding to move his cannabis genomics work from the Bitcoin to Dash Blockchains.
This genomics project is particularly interesting, and important, due to the broken nature of the US patent system. Cannabis plants have been selectively bred to create higher-quality strains for many years, but due to marijuana’s illegality, nobody attempted to patent their strains. Doing so would essentially be an admission of violating the law by growing the plants in the first place. However, as cannabis started becoming legal in various jurisdictions, corporations stepped in and began requesting patents on certain strains of cannabis.
Because of the patent office’s limited knowledge of the industry and of prior art (strains that were already widely-adopted and shouldn’t be patentable), overly-broad patents were issued. These patents cannot currently be enforced because of federal prohibitions on cannabis growing and distribution, but if that changes in the future, growers will find themselves stifled by these patent holders.
Medicinal Genomics is helping combat this problem by allowing growers to sequence the genome of their plant strains and post that data on an unalterable Blockchain. If somebody attempts to patent certain genes or entire strains in the future, the original grower can prove that the plant already existed before the patent-seeker applied for patent protection. For example, if a company tries to patent a strain of cannabis in 2019, but a grower had already posted proof to the Blockchain that the very plant existed in 2018, the patent would be denied due to prior art.
Following McKernan’s successful proposal in December, all that genomics data was migrated from the Bitcoin Blockchain to the Dash Blockchain. Future genomics data will be posted exclusively to the Dash Blockchain.
Phase II proposal
McKernan is now asking the Dash network to make an additional investment in the cannabis space by providing funding to further sequence the cannabis genome. While the genome was sequenced by McKernan’s company in 2011, he estimates that fully a third of the genome remains undiscovered. Due to advances in genomic technology, should he receive funding from the Dash network, he believes he can sequence the cannabis genome a hundred times better than his 2011 effort.
Cultural movement marketing
McKernan believes the network should fund his genome sequencing project because it will give Dash some real “street cred” in the cannabis industry. When his company sequenced the genome in 2011, they made it entirely free and open-source, generating massive amounts of goodwill within the cannabis industry. Should Dash agree to fund his new sequencing effort, he intends to open-source the results as well.
Paying for a major scientific advance in the industry is a much greater use of advertising funds than traditional advertising methods, according to McKernan. Traditional ads are easily ignored, but funding important scientific research is not. McKernan anticipates that if Dash funds this genome sequencing project, the entire industry can’t help but take notice.
McKernan points out that the network has allocated enormous amounts of funding to gaining traction as a payment method within the cannabis industry. Examples include the Alt36 proposal to create a point-of-sale system to accept Dash payments at cannabis dispensaries. He suggests that dedicating some additional funding to solving scientific problems in the industry could make Dash’s prior investments all the more potent.