This page is in response to the below statement, which can be found on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/open-cannabis-project-scam-michael-backes/
We’ve not yet had the opportunity to meet. My name is Beth Schechter, and I’ve been running Open Cannabis Project (OCP) since November 2017. I was initially hired as an independent contractor by Phylos in August 2017 to separate OCP from their organization. OCP began as a project at Phylos in 2015, but they realized it needed to stand as an independent nonprofit if it was going to be successful. We now have a working board and are fiscally sponsored by maps.org. When Jeremy Plumb stepped down as Executive Director at our inaugural meeting, the Board asked me to run the organization, and here we are.
Having stepped in over two years after the project first started, I can see where some of these misconceptions come from. The original database only linked to genetics from a few labs, with no clear way for others to get involved. It looks like there was a lot of unanswered communication to people who had reached out to us during that time. This is a far cry from an open approach.
The initial approach also overlooked specific routes used to create prior art as outlined in the Manual of Patenting Examination Procedure.
Simply posting information on the internet is not enough; it needs to be published in a printed publication, academic article, database that integrates with USPTO search tools, or another listed method. Claiming otherwise is disingenuous; we now talk about our work as an important step in the documenting prior art process.
When it comes to genetic data, posting it to NCBI is the most effective thing that someone can do from a prior art standpoint. We address this on our website here:
In the past year, to address all of this, we have:
- Rebuilt our database to focus on chemical data, which is more of a blind spot than genetic data (thanks to NCBI) when it comes to prior art for cannabis. http://data.opencannabisproject.org/
- Created methods for sharing chemical data through an initial partnership with Confident Cannabis and Cascadia Labs (https://opencannabisproject.org/sharing-data/). All labs are invited to integrate the data-sharing option we prototyped with Cascadia (https://opencannabisproject.org/data-partner/) and we’ll be doing a wider communication about this when Confident Cannabis’ export feature is done, hopefully this week or next.
I’ve also consulted with craft growers, scientists, and lawyers to make sure that the work we’re doing is legally and ethically solid, doing my best to root our work in research and community design methodology in spite of our shoestring budget. I’m committed to bringing transparency to the cannabis community and to our work, with or without proper funding. Though without funding, per the good-cheap-fast paradigm: we can only go so fast if we have to do good work on the cheap.
I’m also interested in figuring out better IP and data-sharing frameworks that give power back to the people who create the data and tend to the plants, and in educating people about IP law so that they can make informed choices. In education about legal topics, we encourage people to seek counsel so that they can (a) confirm what they’ve learned with a lawyer and (b) get accurate legal advice in their jurisdiction.
There’s more to say, and I’d be happy to speak about it with you in person or over the phone. In the meantime, I ask that you refrain from referring to our organization as a scam or similar. That information is simply false.
Looking forward to further discussion,