Yours, mine, and ours: The role of open source and fair trade in cannabis

by | Jun 7, 2019

Think about the food in your pantry, the coffee in your cup, the cosmetics in your purse: most likely, you wouldn’t have bought them if they were made from slave labor, or stole their IP from people who couldn’t fight back, and tell the person looking back at you in the mirror that s/he was truly decent.

That’s why consumers can fall back on the twin innovation-collaborations of open source and fair trade to ensure their purchases were ethically made. Open source gives a participant pool a shared wealth of knowledge and IP, free of charge. Fair Trade develops new covenants between cultivators, manufacturers and brands which embrace collaboration and dispense with the exploitative supply chains of old. Amazing to think that even in the days of the black market, certain traditions of cannabis would embrace open source and fair trade before they became household names. But here in Nevada County, CA, it’s something that developed, well, organically. And WE fully intend to preserve it from the big boys.

Yes, the black market had no shortage of criminals who cared little for anything except getting theirs. The same holds true today. I speak, rather, of a proud tradition, generations old, that started soon after the back-to-the-land movement and also continues today as well. That tradition rested on the foundational principles of open source and fair trade before the terms even existed, and account for the unique qualities that eventually led to the plant’s legalization. And I am certain that those who wish to succeed in cannabis should adopt these tactics if they wish to prosper. Hasn’t done us wrong yet.

cannabis as medicine

Resolving inner conflict with Equanimity

Before cannabis can help anybody, one has to determine his/her relationship to the plant. This often requires education, which is in itself a struggle. However, unlike other fights waged around the plant, this one is absolutely worth fighting for. We’re coming out of 80 years of Prohibition, and the stigmas are only just beginning to unravel. They’re still strong enough however, to bring people into their city halls and mobilize against the opening of a simple retail outlet in their stores. Yet those very same people may be fighting their own inner battles with themselves that could be put to rest with greater Equanimity in their lives.

For them as well as for us, the daily grind places extraordinary pressures upon our collective shoulders. The constant drive to win at all costs and to do it all NOW ends up taking us out of the current moment and letting it recharge and refresh us. The solution for this, as we know, is Equanimity, which returns us to our inner core. Medicine Box has especially formulated our Equanimity tincture to aid in creating a physical and mental homeostasis. This lies directly in cannabis’s wheelhouse, given the endocannabinoid system’s foundational role in maintaining homeostasis.

In our view, too many people try to bend their external circumstances to fit the mold they have created in their head, which only creates more internal conflict.  Equanimity assists with slowing us down to a more observant space of paying attention. And it is a pity that those who seem to need this equanimity the most tend to resist it most strongly. 

holistic approach of the cannabis industry

Taking ownership

That’s not to say I don’t believe in attribution or proprietary ownership. Like most in the industry, I believe the processes, recipes and assorted IP that goes into the end product of your favorite cannabis edible beverage or concentrate should own their hard-earned discoveries outright. Unfortunately, many are not doing what they should to prevent their products from being taken right out from under them.

However, I do believe the genetics of the plants should remain open source. Give credit where it’s due, but in most cases, even the botanists themselves, knowing the value of open source, would ask for little more than that. WE would also like to give a shout-out to the now late and lamented Open Cannabis Project, which was dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of cannabis through the very concept that started it: genetics. Up until recently, they attempted to document the genome of all known strains as “prior art” and therefore public domain. Believe me, some extremely expansive genetics patents have already been filed in the US, so hopefully someone will pick up the thread from them.

We at Medicine Box wouldn’t be here were it not for Fair Trade or Open Source genetics, and we fully intend to keep this spirit alive in our product line as much as we can. For instance, our co-operative suppliers will receive the IP to our chocolate line in exchange for their cannabis while we co-brand each other’s work. Ultimately, no one should ever own cannabis, and no one ever will, if we hold true to the tenets of open source and fair trade. Those two tools helped to make cannabis what it is today, and give us the best means of fulfilling its promise in the years to come.