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FAQ

Absolutely not. Patents stimulate and reward innovation by giving protection for the investment of time and money that people put into making the innovations in the first place. If the Cannabis industry has no patent system, or a chaotic one, the industry itself will be weak or chaotic.

The problem in Cannabis patents is the gold-rush principle. Since there is so little printed prior art for patent examiners to review in determining what is new and what is not, someone can have a legitimate claim to an invention that may be analogous to claiming a gold-panning stake of 100 feet along the river, while trying to claim the whole riverfront. And there are no records to say it’s an improper land grab. This situation unfairly blocks others who might be able to do their own work and make their own discoveries.

Having more information about what is really in the public domain is a public benefit. It does no harm to real innovation and to patents of appropriate scope. It does cast some doubt on overbroad patents that attempt to claim things they did not have truly originate. So MJPW is not anti-patent, but it is indeed against the patent gold rush that ultimately harms the Cannabis industry.
Certainly after a patent has already been examined and granted, that cow is already out of the barn, so to speak.  And issued patents have a presumption of validity.  However, the presumption of validity is proportional in strength to the rigor of the examination the patent underwent, which includes how much prior art was reviewed, and how close it was to describing the claimed invention.

The unique situation in the Cannabis industry is that there is so little printed prior art as compared with essentially every other industry in which patents are granted.

So if an issued patent has a lot of public comment with specific facts arguing that what is claimed was well-known and in some form of public use well before the filing date, the patent owner may have less confidence in the validity of his/her patent.  In some cases, this can make it less likely that the patent will be asserted in litigation.  And, generally, the more consistently the public tends to comment on overbroad patents, with specific facts about why those patents may be invalid, the less such patents will be worth pursuing and/or litigating.
Patent examiners certainly start with literature searches. But, as has been emphasized all over this site and in other places, the Cannabis patent space is unique in having such a small amount of its commercial history and public domain actually recorded in any sort of published form.

In some situations, patent examiners do look for other evidence of prior public use or knowledge of an invention, such as product catalogs, sales advertisements, etc. If they find such evidence, it usually doesn't itself fully qualify as prior art, but it raises issues as to whether the claimed invention may have been known to the public before the filing date. When that issue is out there, the examiner can issue a formal Request for Information (RFI) as part of an Office Action. Failure to respond to the RFI can constitute a non-responsive reply to the Office Action. A deceptively incorrect response to an RFI can seriously jeopardize the validity and/or enforceability of any patent that issues.

So, to sum things up, while it's always more straightforward to be able to point to a single publication with a date that is prior to the filing date, that fully describes the invention, as the cited prior art, public commentary that is specific and credible CAN play a role in USPTO examination. There's no guarantee that it WILL, but it can.