Despite Jeff Sessions’ rantings and threats from the Trump Administration, legalized marijuana – for medical as well as recreational purposes – is here to stay. Putting that genie back in its bottle is going to be virtually impossible as more states vote to decriminalize the controversial, but ultimately innocuous, weed.

Unfortunately, casual users and patients of chronic pain aren’t the only ones celebrating this trend – it’s also what Monsanto is banking on. Despite denials from the company over the years, it is becoming apparent that the agribusiness giant that brought us such delightful innovations such as Agent Orange and the herbicide Roundup has every intention of moving in and taking over the cannabis industry.

However it plays out, it won’t benefit medical marijuana users or the small entrepreneurs who have been jumping on this opportunity since legalization began.

In August of 2015, a small startup known as Biotech Institute LLC was granted the first patent for a strain of marijuana with elevated levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient that causes a high in users.

According to the document:

There is a real need for cannabis varieties for potential medical use that produce modulated THC concentrations and varying concentrations of other pharmacologically active substances. There is also a need for healthier cannabis for recreational use with reduced negative side effects from THC. The inventions described herein meet that long-felt need.”

That patent has opened up a veritable can of worms. Many at the time feared the patent would most certainly lead to court battles over who owns and controls the intellectual property rights to the newest and most potent cannabis strains.

Back then, Seattle attorney Hilary Bricken of the Canna Law Group told Vice News, “These people aren’t worried about the Department of Justice anymore. Now they’re worried about Monsanto.”

Those fears are proving to be well-founded.

Remember the Bayer-Monsanto merger? Despite concerns among anti-trust experts and opposition from 90% of Americans, shareholders approved the merger in December. Now that the ultimate corporatist gang of kleptocrats is running the show in Washington D.C., Monsanto and Bayer are expecting to close the deal by the end of the year.

Monsanto also has a significant business relationship with Scott’s Miracle-Gro, another corporate criminal that has made no secret of its intentions to control the marijuana market. Toward that end, Scott’s has taken over three manufacturers of products used by marijuana growers (such as “grow lights,” plant nutrients and hydroponic gardening supplies), working through a front group called Hawthorne.

Meanwhile, Bayer and Monsanto have been sharing their own little secrets on the production of GMO marijuana. According to Michael Straumietis, owner of Advanced Nutrients, Monsanto and Bayer have been at this for some time.

He adds, “Bayer partners with GW Pharmaceuticals, which grows its own proprietary marijuana genetics. It’s logical to conclude that Monsanto and Bayer want to create GMO marijuana.”

Increasingly, it is looking as if Monsanto and its partners in corporate crime are planing to monopolize medical and recreational cannabis the same way they’ve put a virtual lock on maize and soy crops – and no one but Monsanto will benefit.

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K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.