Bitcoins and Gravy #73: Distrubted Consensus On Cannabis Genetics (Transcript)

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[0:00] John Barrett (Announcer) : Welcome to Bitcoins & Gravy, Episode #73. At the time of this recording Bitcoins are trading at $279.00 each, and everybody's favorite, LTBCoins, are trading at $0.000088 USD each. Mmm...Mmm...Mmm! Now that's gravy.


John : Welcome to Bitcoins & Gravy and thanks for joining me today as I podcast from East Nashville, Tennessee, with my trusty dog, Maxwell, by my side. Say "Hello!", Maxwell.

Maxwell : Grrrrr…..

John : We’re two Bitcoin enthusiasts who love talking about Bitcoins, and sharing what we learn with you, the listener. Long time listeners, thank you so much for joining us, and for your generous tips, and new listeners, kick back and enjoy the show.

[intro music concludes]

On today's show I interview Kevin McKernen, the Chief Scientist at Medicinal Genomics and Courtagen Life Sciences.

[1:03] Kevin talks to us about everything from the Human Genome Project gone bad, to free market regulations, and testing in the Cannabis field, families moving to Colorado to help their children get relief from epileptic seizures, the opiate crisis in America, and how Bitcoin blockchain technology is helping us move toward personalized medicine and away from the dangers inherent in one-size-fits-all herd medicine.


John : All right, listeners. Today I am speaking with the Chief Scientist of Medicinal Genomics and Courtagen Life Sciences, talking to me from Marblehead, Massachusetts. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to Bitcoins & Gravy Kevin McKernen. Kevin, welcome to Bitcoins & Gravy.

[2:01] Kevin : Thanks, John, for having me. This is a very frequented podcast I listen to on my commutes to work, so I'm excited to be part of it.

John : Nice to here it, man. [When] you were in town I really enjoyed getting together with you at Drifter's Barbeque, and sharing a couple of beers. That was probably the most intellectually stimulating conversation I've had in a decade...

Kevin : [laughter]

John : ... Which may be testament to who I'm surrounding myself with. Either that or you just happened to be a highly intelligent, articulate, and engaging individual, which I found to be true.

Kevin : I'm going to blame it on East Nashville. It's not me.

John : [laughter] It's East Nashville, man. I'm surrounded by the dullards and the dafts. Okay. That's good news. No, certainly that's not true. Well, okay, you're the Chief Scientist, the CSO, of Medicinal Genomics and Courtagen Life Sciences. Tell us a bit about that, tell us a bit about your background, and also the work that you're doing - or have done - with ICRS, which is the "International Cannabinoid Research Society". Start wherever you want, man.

[3:00] Kevin : Well, my start in this [I think] is a very interesting story for folks in Bitcoin, because I started off on a government project sequencing the Human Genome Project at MIT.

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : I was cheering that along, saying, "Ra...ra...We've got to show that the public sector can actually do good science." Because a private sector, competitive company entered the space, called Celera Genomics, claiming they were going to do it 10 times faster, and for less money, and all this stuff. The vilifying aspect of them was that they were going to patent a couple of genes in the process, and so I got an ulcer in the process of running the research and development team on that project trying to beat them to the punch. In the end a couple of precedents declared it a tie. But actually, I think, the private sector won, in many ways, in that the public - or government - sector of this ended up with more patents than the private sector did. So I learned a hard lesson of working in government science.

John : Well, explain to our listeners - if you would - what might be bad about those patents, or what might be good about those patents? There's two sides to the story, and two different opinions on it. I know where I stand, and I know where you stand.

[4:03] Kevin : Yeah, so I'm guilty as all hell, having lots of patents in my name, but that's a history that ... When you get into science you recognize [it's] a currency of this field, and it's very hard to start any company without them. So, with all that said, it's not something any one person can single-handedly ignore or uproot, but I have come to learn over time that [they consume] a lot of resources, and they don't necessarily help science or innovation. It's more of a control mechanism -- particularly gene patents; they're really bad, because there's thousands of genes [so] it's mindless for people to patent these things. But they get in the way, [because] now that we have technologies that we never envisioned back then - to sequence entire genomes for thousands of dollars - when there are gene patents littered everywhere it makes a complete mess [of] this field. Twenty percent of the human genome is patented...

John : Wow. Hmm.

Kevin : So it's very difficult to navigate around. But I jumped out of that government project into starting companies. In 2000 we started my own company, with my two brothers, called Agencourt Biosciences.

[5:03] It went about [running] DNA sequencing as a service, but also building a new next-generation sequencer. So my life has been about building a lot of these next-gen sequencers, and competing with them in the marketplace. Those companies went through several rounds of being sold [as] new startups. The latest rendition of this is trying to put a lot of that horsepower into diseases that are centered around the endocannabinoid system, and also looking at the genetics of cannabis. This is the reason why I'm wearing two hats, as a CSO of two different companies. One is very much human focused - and personalized medicine focused - on sequencing humans; mostly in epilepsy, autism, developmental delay, and mitochondrial disease. All of those kind of center around the endocannabinoid system. [Then] the other branch of the company is very much focused on plant genetics, and safety testing in cannabis, and those two things do come together with Bitcoin in a very unexpected way, which we can perhaps dive into in a bit.

[6:06] John : Wow! Yeah, that's great stuff. This is exciting. I think a lot of the listeners, now, are poised to hear something that maybe they have never even thought of before. Yeah, where do we start with this, man?

Kevin : Some of the most interesting pharmacology that I've seen - and this is where the ICRS comes into it; I went to that meeting last year, and it is such a phenomenal meeting to go to - because, first off, if you're a scientist and you're going to that conference, you have to have enough of an open mind to see through a lot of crap.

John : Let's make sure that our listeners know [that] the ICRS, again, is the "International Cannabinoid Research Society". Okay, go ahead.

Kevin : Yeah. So this is a scientific conference that studies all of the different receptors in the body that respond to cannabinoids. [It's] trying to sort out how this complex mixture of chemicals from plants can be as medicinal as it is, and how we can best utilize that. Well, when you get into a scientific room filled with people who are studying this you recognize that you are around individuals who can think differently.

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : They're not constrained with, sort of, the mainstream media opinion on matters. They're [going] where the science is taking them, which means [that] they're very open-minded.

[7:06]John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : So it's a great conference, but it's also a conference that's unveiling to us an entirely untapped pharmaceutical repertiore that has been illegal for so long that people have had a difficult time studying it. It ends up being a very international conference, because [most] of this research is being done, not in the United States, [but] it's getting done mostly in Israel, and Italy, and the UK, and Spain, just due to regulatory reasons. So that makes it for a fun place, but [what] is really exciting about it is [that] we're just now starting to see some of these laws lift, and much more research [dollars are] getting popped into the field, so people can begin to tease apart the nature of cannabis, [like] : 'What are the compounds that are in these plants that are helping?' and, 'How do we classify all the different plants that are out there?' Because, [with] cannabis, to just call it one thing is really foolish, and that's where a lot of the prior studies somewhat failed, is that they all studied this as "marijuana".

[8:03] Kevin : They never stopped to chemically analyze, 'Well, what is it?', 'Does it have THC in it?', 'Does it have CBD in it?', 'Does it have these other 12 cannabinoids?'

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : So that whole spectrum of pharmacology is just now coming alive right as we have personalized medicine tools at our fingertips; the ability to sequence every single patient, and perhaps [match] their genotype to the right chemistry that might come out of the plants. That's what we're trying to do.

John : Wow, that's great stuff! You know, I've always said that 100 years from now people will look back and they'll say, "Wow! At this point in time people were all taking the same pill for whatever disease they were diagnosed with, or whatever ailment." Whereas in the future - 100 years from now, [or] certainly, less than that - the medication that you take will be specific to your own individual body, right?

Kevin : It will, and it's absolute "herd medicine" today, where we try to have these one-size-fits-all regulatory approvals for a certain drug, and the clinical trials of the FDA are never adequate enough to address the entire population, and the diversity that the drug's going to see.

[9:02] John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : It's because of this centralize planning that I think we're seeing the backfire at the FDA. I mean, I know a lot of people there that are great scientists, but it's the regulatory structure they're in that doesn't afford decentralization, [and] that doesn't afford any competition that creates these drugs that kill. The Independent Institute [has] got great work - called - on all the deaths from the FDA.

John : Hmm. Interesting.

Kevin : So it's [a] very serious topic, and what we're starting to see in the cannabis field is [that] there's some tendency for people to want to force things through that structure, although I'd argue [that] you can't really afford to go through that structure unless you have IP - unless you have patents - and that's difficult to get in cannabis. But we're also seeing very voluntary, free-market regulation, whcih reminds me of the whole Bitcoin space. [This] is the way to go. We know this [by] looking at Uber, and AirBnB, and VRBO, [and Ebay], that there are ways to get free-market feedback that are far more decentralized, and probably much more effective from a pricing standpoint.

[10:08] John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : This actually happened in cannabis, [and] has a role in what we're doing in Medicinal Genomics, in that California doesn't really have any [regulation] -- it has the least amount of regulatory structure for cannabis, right?

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : Yet, out of California, what we see are voluntary testing facilities looking for cannabinoid concentrations, looking for yeasts and molds, [and] sometimes terpines, and a couple of other heavy metals and pesticides that might be on the plant. All of this got voluntarily put into place in California markets without a regulator demanding it so.

John : Hmm...

Kevin : But what's happening now is [that] regulators are stepping in front of that great idea like it's their parade, and claiming, "Oh, let's replicate that and stamp it all over the industry." Once again, what we see when that happens is [that] they take one snapshot of what they think is the right regulatory framework, and virally replicate it state-to-state, and then you find aspects of the technology that are like baked into 1892 technologies.

[11:07] John : Hmm.

Kevin : This has got to change. This is what we're trying to do a Medicinal Genomics, is get rid of this rid of this petri dish stuff that everyone's using to test for mold and bacteria on cannabis. It's not an effective tool to use.

John : Yeah, you know, you mentioned 1892. That's about the time that the pharmaceutical companies started growing here in the United States, and some of the big investors in those pharmaceutical companies said to universities, "Hey, we will help fund your medical school in exchange ofr you adopting this curriculum." Of course, the curriculum was very heavily pharmaceutical-based, because the people suggesting this were basically investors in the pharmaceutical companies. So we've seen the history of that just continue with the pharmaceutical cartels and the regulators...

Kevin : Yeah, "regulatory capture".

John : Yeah, regulatory capture, exactly. [It's] frightening stuff, but very real, and something that your average person is completely clueless about.

Kevin : Yeah, so just to give folks a sense of this time gap -- and I'm sure that the Bitcoin space, which moves at light speed, is going to laugh at the fact that we're inking regulation on petri dishes... This is the same era when the paper clip was invented.

[12:09] John : [laughter]

Kevin : That's how cutting-edge it is.

John : [laughter] Oh, man!

Kevin : I mean, I think [also] the incandescent bulb. You can tie a lot of things back to the late 1800s, but it's not changed much. The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia is what's used - [that's] the AHP - and this thing just keeps getting restamped from one industry to the next, [like] from the food testing and safety markets, [and] now into the cannabis testing market. What we've been doing is [changing] that whole paradigm, because this whole idea of growing things on plates assumes you know the carbon source for these microbes...

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : ... and that's the big fallacy in culture, is that only like 1% of the microbes do we know how to culture. So [you're] really looking at the world of microbiology through a terrible a priori lens when you do that.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : What we're doing at Medicinal Genomics is converting that all over to reading the DNA that's sitting on the plant.

[13:00] It's a microbiome type of study, [as in] you strip all of the DNA off and sequence it - or use quantitative PCR to figure out [what is] the microbial load that's there. Then you can get much more specific about it. You don't have to be wholesale just counting little colonies that show up on petri dishes and assuming every one of those colonies is bad. Usually, [around] 90 percent of the bugs are harmless. They're almost like your microbiome in your gut. You need some of it to survive. You can't just wipe it all out or you'll die.

John : Right.

Kevin : So you have to really differentiate between good bugs and bad bugs, and we just don't have those tools with the 1892 technology. It's our job to run around and educate some of these regulators that they're pressing these things into regulation. What's going to happen is you're going to create an enormous evolutionary pressure, or selection, against certain plants when you do this. Because some genetics require a certain set of microbes to actually grow, and if you don't have them they get hit with other pests, like botrytis and fusarium, and all these other plant blights.

[14:04] So that aspect is kind of fun, because we're showing the world that, 'Hey look! There's an entirely new technology that can measure what's going on in these plants, [and] it's better, faster, [and] cheaper.' But it's also more specific, and we're not going to put in these really grotesque, and dull, filters, where we screen out a whole set of plant genetics that can't make it through this microbial constraint that they've put onto petri dishes. So that's gotten us kind of excited about, 'How do we get this information public?', 'How do we share the information?', and 'How do we monitor the genetics of the plants?' Because this evolutionary pressure that's about to happen on the plant, with all this regulation, [is] going to change the face of the genetics that are out there in the marketplace. So we have come up with this concept of leveraging the blockchain to register all of the genetics that are floating around in circulation.

[15:00] That's something that I think many people in this audience could probably help us with, or guide us, or even be a part of, because we think it's going to be just absolutely instrumental to make this field into a world-class, scientific endeavor.

John : Wow. That almost sounds like you're putting out a call for help from people who have been in the Bitcoin world for years, who have the tech background, [and] who are maybe looking for a project to work on. Is there any money for anybody out there who would be willing to jump in and help with this, or is it just fame and fortune?

Kevin : No, no. There's a little bit of both. I mean, I've got to give a shout-out to Christian [?] and David Mcfadzean. They both already jumped in and helped out a little bit. These are friends of Michael Dean and [Nema Vidadi?]. They connected us to get this kickstarted. There's already a web site up that's dedicated to this, and we presented on this at the ICRS. It was very well received. But we are hiring, actually. We just went through a funding round, and the company pulled in $20 million, so it was an oversubscribed funding round, and we will be hiring, specifically on this project.

John : Nice.

Kevin : But the concept here is that there's a strain name going on in the field that's really important to resolve, and the reason it's happening is because you can't get trademarks or copyright in the cannabis field.

[16:08] You might be able to get some patent protection on certain methods, but you can't get it on the trademark or copyright front. So what that's induced is a fair amount of counterfeiting in the field, because there is a spread on the price of cannabis based on name. I mean, there’s probably two or threefold in price, where you can get a premium for top-name strains, but there's no guarantee the strain's actually it when you get it.

John : Give us an example of that.

Kevin : Oh, I think [right now] a really common one that's probably capturing more cash is "Blue Dream". The Marley family announced [that] they're going to put out a strain, so I'm sure that will capture a premium number. Willy Nelson is talking about putting one out, [and also] Snoop Dog.

John : [laughter]

Kevin : All of these folks are going to have a strain of their own. You can see it in alcohol too, right? There's bottles of wine that can go for five or tenfold the price of like a Yellowtail.

John : Right.

[17:00] Kevin : So the problem is that the bottles of wine have nice labels, [while] the bags of cannabis do not.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : That's made it very difficult for people to even capture a bigger spread, because there's some doubt that whatever you're buying is really that different, unless you've got a really good nose for smelling and detecting what it is you're actually after.

John : [laughter] Right. If you're a weed connoisseur you take a smell and you say, "Oh! Hints of chocolate and coffee, with an after... "

Kevin : You would! [laughter] We want to objectify all that, because we know that all of those terpenes are measurable genetically, and so what we're aiming to do is take a DNA fingerprint of the plant, and once that fingerprint has been take taken we etch its "proof of existence" into a blockchain, and then provide whoever submitted that to be fingerprinted a Wikipedia page that they can edit. The only thing they can't edit it, obviously, the "proof of existence", otherwise it changes the validity of that.

John : Right.

Kevin : But what we're trying to generate is a distributed concensus on what cannabis actually is - like what are the species' names?

[18:01] John : Hmm.

Kevin : When we sequenced the genome of cannabis back in 2012 we sequenced a "ChemDawg 91", and everyone kind of came to us saying, "Well, how do you know you have the right strain?" and "Are you sure it was actually "ChemDawg" and not a counterfeit?", and that debate has never ended. I don't think it ever will until we start fingerprinting things, and building a registry that's based on DNA, as opposed to people scribbling with ink on a baggy, as to what they think it is.

John : Okay, so other than somebody [liking] the high they get from "White Widow" versus the high they get from another strain, what is the real importance of this project?

Kevin : Yeah, I'm glad you brought that back. It focuses back on the medical issue, in my mind, because the cannabinoids in the plant do very different things. You'll see a lot of stuff on TV right now about one compound of the plant called "Cannabidiol", or CBD. The kids that are taking this to reduce their seizures don't necessarily want any THC around.

[19:00] John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : At least, their parents don't, and maybe the politicians don't. But there's a separate class of patients that don't respond to CBD. They actually need another compound called "THC-A", which is a carboxylated form of THC that also is not psychoactive unless you heat it, all right? But both of these two non-psychoactive compounds are showing tremendous promise in epilepsy. I mean, it's not like a minor thing here. There's even an FDA trial going on showing that CBD - when it's purified alone, away from the other compounds of the plant - is [giving] a 50% reduction in seizure rate of these kids. These are drug-resistant kids with epilepsy.

John : Can you give us a little bit of a background? I know I read an article about the young girl named "Charlotte".

Kevin : Yeah. We've involved in a clinical trial there as well. [We're] sequencing 30 kids out of Denver Health that are on "Charlotte's Web". The reason we want to sequence them is [because] we've seen this artifact in the other trial - the GW Pharma trial that's trying to put this through the FDA - where half the kids get better, [but] 15% of them get worse. So if we can figure out which 15% get worse, and why, and we can potentially screen them, that makes a big difference to the healthcare industry.

[20:04] Because when a kid's seizure rate goes up they usually get hospitalized, and you start talking about $20,000 a day, and additional costs if they get hospitalized. So it's really important for them to be able to know. and predict, who's going to respond and who isn't going to respond.

John : Okay. Tell us first, if you would, [a] little bit of background - I hate to stop you from your progress here - but to sequence a human being, tell our listeners what that means in a nutshell.

Kevin : So there's about 6 billion bases in your genome, and only 1% of those actually code for proteins that we really know how to analyze today. The stuff that's in the introns and the regulatory regions we don't clinically look at much today. But if you're going to sequence a patient in a clinical environment - which is a whole other regulatory discussion about CLIA and CAP regulation, you [tend] to focus on just the coding regions. So the test that Courtagen Life Sciences has been using in all of these epilepsy studies sequences about 500 genes that we know are involved in epilepsy.

[21:01] John : Hmm.

Kevin : There's about 40 different contraindications where you have this particular variant and you can't take a certain drug, or you'll blow out your liver, or you'll have an adverse response.

John : Hmm. Okay.

Kevin : So those 500 genes make up about 7 million bases, or so, that we sequence in each patient. People just give us saliva, and we can sequence [either] all of their genes - all 20,000 of them - down to maybe 50 of them, depending on what the doctor wants done.

John : Wow.

Kevin : But that's been being used in a lot of these studies to see which patients are responding, and not responding, to CBD, and we're starting to see some signals that predict, 'Okay. You will or you won't respond.'

John : Wow.

Kevin : How this ties into the cannabis front is that even though this FDA trial is going through it is a single compound trial, and we know that those are usually flawed, and it probably won't be available for four years. Meanwhile, every parent who's seen the weed episode from Sanjay Gupta is moving to Colorado or Seattle to get access to this through the dispensaries, and the dispensaries are taking plant material and not isolating a compound.

[22:03] So the parents have to figure out, 'Is this really a high-CBD "Charlotte's Web', like what you saw Paige and Charlotte Figgy go though...

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : Or is this something that's got a little mi xof both - like "ACDC" has a little bit more THC in it. Knowing those cannabinoid ratios is pretty critical. Likewise, labeling in the field now [is] not just about getting high. It's about actually finding the right cannabinoid profile for the right patient, and that brings in a much stronger emphasis for labeling.

John : Okay. Give us a background - really quickly, if you would - about "Charlotte's Web", what that is, and who came up with that?

Kevin : I can't really vouch for who can up with it, because again, these strains have all been renamed. Although I think the Stanley brothers will claim they came up with it, you'll hear many people contest that saying, "No, that's an R4 strain, or that's an ACDC strain that got pulled out of California...", [and] there's all this finger-pointing on who's lying to who.

John : Okay. But we know it's low in THC and high in CBD.

Kevin : Yeah. We can measure those compounds, and in the end measuring the compounds is really critical.

[23:01] I'm not going to suggest that genetics is ever going to completely get rid of that. But the easiest thing to measure that has properties that you can compare and build phylogenetic trees with is DNA, because when we start sequencing the DNA we can begin to say, "Wait. We know this is not only Charlotte's Web, but we can actually figure out who its parents are, and how it's been crossed throughout time." to figure out all the other strains we might want to consider crossing to make something similar to it.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : So the genetics provide a whole different layer of breeding information that we think is ultimately going to the fingerprint that the QR code that sits on a bag will eventually be linked to a blockchain proof-of-existence genetic file that tells you what that strain is. So this concept of "seed-to-sale" regulation, you might have heard of, in Colorado, [where] you have to have RFIDs tracking seeds everywhere?

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : That's kind of arcane. You should just read the genome, and then you can always re-query whether or not it is what it is by sequencing.

John : [Wow]. So in the future, a parent can take their child who's having [epileptic] seizures [in], and for a low price eventually they can have their child sequenced, right?

[24:10] Kevin : Yeah.

John : That would then determine the exact strain of marijuana that they should take. Obviously, the child's not going to be smoking it. They're going to be ingesting it as an oil, or a capsule - a gel cap, or whatever - [right]? That can then get really specific in addressing their problem and stopping their seizures.

Kevin : Indeed. Yeah, that's the goal is to actually personalize all this. I do think [that] that's what's needed - even in the FDA model - is that whether it goes through dispensary or FDA this whole process of herd medicine needs a creative destruction. We have to personalize this, because this concept of applying one drug to everybody, now that the human population is so mixed, is just insane.

John : Who does that personalizing threaten?

Kevin : Well, it probably does threaten some pharma if they're narrow-minded, in that they now recognize that the diagnostic companies can wag the dog of the pharma [companies].

[25:00] This puts more power in the hands of the people who do the testing, that dictate who gets their drug. But that power shift is somewhat already occurring on them in that the insurance companies are beginning to refuse to pay for dirty drugs, and they're beginning to refuse to pay for drugs that have a high adverse response rate. They're beginning to become more and more receptive to the concept of what's known as a "companion diagnostic test", where you take a [genetic] test that tells you, 'Okay. You're good for this drug or you're not'. or, 'If you're going to take this Warfarin drug you need to take more of it, because your genetics dictate that you're a “fast metabolizer”.'

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : All of that is just starting to move its way into the marketplace, and some of it's going to move its way through more traditional regulatory channels. But I would argue that those aren't as well-adaptable to this than these other more market-based regulatory markets. Like the dispensary cannabis market, I think, actually is quite reflexive, and more open-market, and I think [we're] going to find a lot more discoveries in that process.

John : MmmHmm.

[26:00] Kevin : Because the families all share this kind of information on Facebook and social media, and they are way ahead of how to utilize these cannabinoids than anyone in the FDA.


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[28:13] John : Do you have some sources that you could pass over to us so that I could put those in the show notes?

Kevin : Oh, you bet. Yes. Absolutely. You can link to some of these Facebook groups that discuss these topics. It's really fascinating to see, because you can start to see... There's a paper that came out last week in this field, which really was derived, I think, from these Facebook groups, in that everyone began to see that when you put kids on CBD [and] they're on a couple of other anti-leptic drugs they get a different response. It's because these drugs all share a common liver enzyme that they get metabolized by.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : So when you put them on CBD suddenly the liver enzyme is taxed or inhibited, and then they can't process the other AED that they're on - the other “anti-epileptic drug” that they're on.

John : HmmMmm.

Kevin : They get overdosing from that other drug. The parents all started noticing this with Clobazam and CBD, that there's a bad mix.

[29:02] Now we're seeing papers come out of MGH showing: 'Oh, yup. That's true.' When we go and measure this in the clinical trial we can see that CBD can elevate the Clobozam levels in some kids, and we have to be sure to monitor this when we're doing it. I don't think that those stories are often heard. You always assume it came from like the FDA down, but it's really grassroots up that's happening in some of these fields, and it's exciting to see.

John : Very interesting. Yeah, concerned parents [are] noticing things because they're their children. So let's talk a little bit about other pains. For instance, I have chronic arthritis in my hands, and also bone spurs in my neck, and back problems for many years now. Some of these strains - some of the CBD - might these be able to help me with my pain?

Kevin : Yeah. The pain market is fascinating, because there really hasn't been much innovation there in like 40 years. It's just been opiate after opiate, with slight modifications, and we've all seen where that's gone. It's turned into methadone clinics. It's turned into a heroine epidemic.

John : HmmMmm.

Kevin : Something like 80% of the heroine overdoses are linked back to an OxyContin prescription.

[30:01] John : Wow.

Kevin : So there's a real gateway effect there. What people don't know is that there's an anti-gateway effect with CBD. There's three clinical trials ongoing using CBD to get people off of nicotine, alcohol, and heroin.

John : Wow!

Kevin : [There] are these politically-frenzied people who tend to claim it's a gateway drugs [who] just have it completely backwards. So this compound has shown some luck in [treating] pain, and we've been doing some work in that area as well. So Courtagen sequences about four or five hundred patients a month, and that's been growing quite rapidly. But in doing so there was one group of patients that came through with chronic pain and chronic fatigue, and we just went database sleuthing to find out what did they have in common genetically. Out popped a paper that we just published last month on a particular variant that's in one to two percent of the population that causes chronic pain. Now it's not all chronic pain. Chronic pain is a huge category.

John : Sure.

Kevin : But even so , one to two percent is really important from a physician's standpoint, because when you walk into your physician's office they have a very subjective definition of pain, and they're nervous about handing out drugs on subjective measurements.

John : MmmHmm.

[31:08] Kevin : Because they don't know if you're just coming in for your next hit, or if you actually are in pain.

John : Right.

Kevin : What we're hoping to do with genetics is to objectify this with real measurements, that you have a genetic mutation that implies you're going to have chronic pain. [There are a] few patients that have this one that are responding really well to antioxidants - it's one known as N-acetylcysteine. But CBD would probably be better. It's a more effective anti-oxidant that get through the blood-brain barrier. We have to try and find a way to organize a study that proves that - that CBD actually does work for these particular patients. But you can see that this is going to play a much more important role. For pharmaceutical companies that are used to having their way of just pumping out another opiate, when they start to see that people are putting these connections together that, "Okay, there's a genotype that predicts that you should take something that might come from Whole Foods, or a dispensary.", I think they're going to have to pick up and take notice of this, and start deploying some of these personalize medicine tools into their own drug pipeline, or face an obsolescence moment.

[32:06] John : Yeah. I think so. For me, I have worked in the trades for many years, doing framing, and digging using a shovel, and landscaping, and working with power tools, and I know a lot of people, still, that are in the trades, and a lot of these guys have chronic pain from having fallen, or from having just overworked. We see a lot of this with people coming back from Afghanistan where they were just beaten up by what they went through there - the heavy backpacks, and knee problems, and hip problems - all kinds of physical problems. But what I see [in] a good friend of mine, Jerry Ward, he has alcohol issues, but when he goes into a doctor and he says, "I've got this chronic pain, because [I] fell off scaffolding years ago, and I try to fix it with my alcohol.", right? The doctor says, "No, no, no! You need Oxycontin." or "You need this other drug." that just happens to be very, very addictive. Well okay, so they help Jerry wean himself off of alcohol by putting him on these highly addictive drugs, and now he has to pay $350 a month to get these drugs that he's addicted to now.

[33:09] So he's basically going back to his pusher - these doctors out there -- well, they call themselves “doctors”. Some of them are, [but] some of them are just pushers pushing something that the pharmaceutical reps have convinced them is going to be good for their patients. Well, if you were to ask the doctor, "Can you give us the specifics of how this works?" They might be able to give you a pamphlet, or to repeat, verbatim, what the pharmaceutical rep has memorized. But the doctor does not have a laboratory, [and] the doctor does not have - oftentimes - a background in working in a laboratory. They can't afford their own laboratory. So, in other words, they're just listening to what the talking [head pharmaceutical reps] are paid to say to them. They're [then] passing that information on to their patients, and saying, "This is something that is going to be good [for] you." with no real knowledge about the side effects - or the long-term effects is a better way to put it.

[34:00] I think, [basically] like the methadone clinics, I think it's just government sanctioned drug-dealing.

Kevin : Oh, it is. It is, and they've put all these regulations - in the name of safety, of course - on top of the field, that prevent doctors from sharing notes on patients like this, and it makes it very difficult to move medical information around and do studies.

John : Hmm. Kevin : Which is why I'm very optimistic about some of the more free-market approaches, because we're starting to see patient groups make.... For the patients to share data that's fine. It's [correct] ethically. You're medical data is your medical data, and only you should be able to [say] who can control sharing it. But a lot of these people are sharing it on social media. If a company or physician were to try and share any of that they'd go through a HIPAA violation, and it'd be all types of paperwork and fun.

John : Wow.

Kevin : So there are some challenges and barriers that are put in place to sort these problems out. Once you get across the line into the private sector, or once you're a physician that's involved in this equation, it becomes very difficult to actually do any kind of studies.

[35:01] Like if we want to fund a physician to say, "Look. You have all of these patients that have chronic pain."

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : We will offer to sequence them all for you as long as you give us their clinicals, because we really need the clinical phenotype to do this, right?

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : That's incredibly difficult to do, because you're not allowed to do anything for free for a doctor, and you're also not allowed to help them. The first thing they'll do, if they say, "Yes, I love this idea!" is say, "I need your help to get an intern in here to get all the records out." [But] you can't do that. You're not allowed to fund an intern at another physician's office, even if it's just to collect medical records to do paperwork, it's considered a Stark violation. There's all types of regulatory mess that is in place on the medical side. What I'm more optimistic that we're going to see is a free-market solution where patients that are free to share these notes on their own find social networks that enable it to happen, and move the science forward.

John : Wow, man. [laughter] That is heavy stuff. So we're looking toward the private sector, really, and that's are future - we hope - right?

[36:04] Kevin : Well, I'm very much a free-market advocate on this, in that I inherently don't trust organizations that don't have competition, and most people in the United States don't recognize that the regulatory body that sits over the medical industry has no competition.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : This is probably why prices are rising. This is something that we have seen John Goodman write really elegantly about in his book called "Price List", that once you remove the pricing signal from the marketplace it's impossible to innovate. You don't know what to fix.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : That's what we see going on in the healthcare industry right now, is that you have co-pays, you have caps, you have forced insurance, you have forced pricing, and it is very difficult to know where to innovate. But the more of this that goes out into the concierge medicine market - or into the free-market medicine - you're going to start to find people being independent, and relying on themselves to go to a dispensary, and figure out, 'What is the right terpene, or the right cannabinoid?'

[37:00] Or maybe it's not even from the cannabis plant, but something that addresses their particular disease based on the public literature, and we're seeing it happening in droves right now. There's just an onslaught of people - not just young children with epilepsy - [but] we're starting to see it in the Alzheimer arena, [and] we're starting to see it even in the age-related diseased, that people are turning to this option because we can't just wait for four year trials.

John : Yes. Yes. Well stated. What do you think are the reasons why the research into cannabis - generally speaking, over the past 100 years - what are the reasons why that has been so slow-coming?

Kevin : There's a couple of examples of obvious "regulatory capture" when you go back to 1937. The whole history of hemp I won't [address] here, but clearly there was DuPont issue where they were threatened by the ability to turn that into paper, and went about a campaign to regulate it. Since then, I think the challenge people have had is that the current healthcare system and pharmaceutical industry cannot operate without IP.

[38:02] John : Right.

Kevin : You cannot afford an $800 million drug trial if you don't have a patent guaranteeing you an artificial monopoly when you get out of that artificial price [laughter].

John : [laughter] Right.

Kevin : I mean, the issue is self-inflicted by the FDA, [and] their costs keep going up. It seems like they got a big land-grab - they being the FDA - after the [Slimline?] debacle in the 60s, and were granted a lot more right to regulate. Most Americans don't recognize that that right to regulate has created an increase in deaths with a decrease of new chemical entities. This is all documented really well in the independent institute, and we'll put that in the show notes for folks who haven't seen this.

John : Okay.

Kevin : But I think we're seeing it today, right now, as this is starting to get legalized, everyone is trying to clamor to try and get some kind of patent right on cannabis. I don't think they're going to get it [laughter]. It's just one of those things where there's too much [prior right?], and you can't get it with genetics very easily anymore.

[39:01] All of the data that we did in 2011 we put public on the web immediately, just so that we wouldn't end up with the Human Genome mess that we have.

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : So I think that has been part of the constraint, is that if you're going to try and pull a chemical out of that plant, and then you have to go to the FDA for an $800 million trial, you're probably not going to get that money back.

John : Right.

Kevin : So I think that's been the main issue. But it's also scheduling of this making it really difficult. The people who are running these epilepsy trails, even though it's CBD and it's not psychoactive, they're supposed to be put in like 3,000 lb safes into the hospitals that run the trial.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : [They have] cameras, and all types of badges, and everything, in case someone runs off with the non-psychoactive compound, you know?

John : [laughter] Oh, man.

Kevin : So that's the type of mentality that's behind this scare campaign. I think that's the main issue.

John : Yeah.

Kevin : If they can find a way to get people educated and over that, and to completely deschedule this, I am quite optimistic that there are free-market ways to leapfrog this.

[40:07] John : Yeah.

Kevin : The creative-destruction, I think, that this needs at the FDA, is a competitor, and I see the over-the-counter, open access of the cannabinoid profile of this plant being larger -- it's a larger pharmaceutical repertoire than all of Merck and Pfizer.

John : Wow.

Kevin : And it's about to go over-the-counter and open-source for everyone, and if you have that with personalized medicine, and they're very safe compounds, there are some limitless possibilities there to change healthcare. They may not necessarily have to all go through $800 million drug trials. We can probably sort this out with much cheaper studies that aren't conflicted with the regulatory capture that you see in the FDA. The biggest change - the last point here on the FDA - is that in 1992, folks should look up the PDUFA Act. This is [an] opportunity - they'll probably word it as - where it's called the "prescription drug user fee act".

[41:00] What that means is that the pharmaceutical companies can now pay the FDA to defer the costs of their study.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : In any other business that's just called a "regulatory bribe".

John : Right.

Kevin : But it's called the PDUFA Act in pharma lingo. Since that point the street drugs are not killing people, it's the FDA drugs that are killing people.

John : Wow!

Kevin : So that's an area that I think every voter - if you believe in that - should recognize [that] you have no capacity as a voter to change anything going on at the FDA, yet they control life or death situations on what you can put in your body.

John : Wow, so scare tactics again and again from these - what you could call "cartels". The "pharmaceutic cartel" [is] putting out scare tactics to continue to do what they do unabated, making as much money as they can, and with almost complete disregard for the negative side effects, including diminished health for people, and death.

Kevin : Yeah, and to be honest, I don't know how much of it -- we could probably philosophize about this all day - [but] I often wonder how much of it is intentional.

[42:02] You know? I think it's just these folks using the levers they're forced to use to run their compounds through government regulations, and in the end is an outcome that looks pretty sinister, but is probably all paved in good intentions.

John : Well, I think the intention is - from the pharmaceutical company perspective - [is] not singular, but you could almost say that it is profits, period.

Kevin : Yes. There is. [But] "profit" can be such a dirty word, right? I don't have an issue with like the Austrian economics definition of profit, where both parties actually profit in an exchange.

John : i agree.

Kevin : But in the pharma sense there is so much regulatory capture that it's hard to view that as win-win.

John : MmmHmm. Yeah.

Kevin : It's too contorted to put an Austrian theme on that.

John : I agree.

Kevin : So yes, there's definitely some greed going on, and the patent system doesn't necessarily afford any win-win, right? It's effectively handing out artificial monopolies that are government-granted, and it's not very thorough in its process.

[43:05] The USPTO makes tons of mistakes.

John : Yeah.

Kevin : And the patents they issue are often overlapping, redundant, or just conflicting, and [the worse] one out. But, none-the-less, it creates a huge defamation in the marketplace when these patent rights protrude into every aspect of healthcare.

John : Yeah. It's a big win-lose really. I mean, just to call it what it is.

Kevin : Yeah. Yeah.

John : Wow! This is heavy stuff, Kevin.

Kevin : Yeah, well it's meant to be uplifting, because it's about cannabis, I hope [laughter].

John : Yeah. Absolutely.

Kevin : There you go. But I encourage other folks to have a look at this Kannapedia project. It's spelled with a "K", and this is meant to be an online wikipedia where we measure the phylogenetic tree of cannabis. The reason why we want this to be a [wiki], and to be a distributed consensus problem is that I don't think any one “sage on the stage” can figure out what the cannabis phylogenetic tree is. There [are] just too many species out there, all over the globe, for us to declare, "One is Indica and one is Sativa..." and all that silliness.

[44:02] I think it all has to stem from a nice, good genetic architecture...

John : Yeah.

Kevin : ... and that's what's going to help guide people to finding the right drugs, is that, "Okay, this plant comes from this line, and we know it tends to make a lot of [beta-keropheline?]", which is a great CO2 agonist that is a terpene, and there's hundreds and thousands of papers on this compound. It's benign, [and] it happens to work really well with CBD. So we want those genetics, and we want to cross those with this over here, which has cannabivarin, which is a completely different compound the plant makes. I think that's what's going to really aid bringing this whole pharmaceutical repertoire into the marketplace in a safe manner...

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : ... where we can begin to think about the right regulatory structures for this. It seems as if, right now, the FDA is willing to review the compounds that are purified, but they're staying away from the whole dispensary thing, which I think is a good thing, because it looks more neutraceutical, and the compounds in the plant are incredibly safe. I don't know how long that's going to last, but to the extent that that duality exists there's going to be this marketplace for people to find therapeutics affordably...

[45:02] John : Hmm.

Kevin : ... that fit them, that are safe, and that are personalized. We've never had a bright moment, I think, in pharmaceutical history, than what's happening right now, because we have these two tools. We have this open-source pharmacy that's coming, and we have the ability to measure everyone's genome. With that we want to make sure that we apply the same type of registration, and science, around the strain names, because right now this isn't going to happen if there's a strain game going on. If people are just counterfeiting one strain for another everyone's going to get confused in the data.

John : Right. Well yeah, this is exciting stuff, and I wonder how far-reaching are the tentacles of the "international drug cartel" [laughter] - the "international pharmaceutical cartel"? So, in other countries what is the equivalent of their FDA? What are you seeing as far as regulations in other countries?

Kevin : There's some countries that [have] just completely lifted [it]. I think [that] in Uraguay it's completely legal now. [The] Czech Republic, Spain, Holland, and Portugal -- a lot of these places, when they lift the regulations on cannabis, they see nothing but benefits.

[46:05] They see opioid overdoses go down [by like] 25%. They see less alcohol consumption by like 9%. [I think the] Portugal study is great on this. It shows that there are far less deaths from overdose, because people are now open about what they're doing [as] they're treating it like a disease [and] not a criminality.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : So this plays its way into all types of social factors, but I have a feeling that "Pharma" - like any large institution - can be disintermediated to some extent if they're not agile in this marketplace.

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : If they don't recognize that they have to get personalized and adapt they're going to get left behind, because in the end the market always moves. The market always moves them, and they can try to regulatory capture as much as they want, but it always finds a way, and this is a "voter-based initiative", if you will, or just a popularity contest, that's not going to let this thing get clamped back down again.

[47:00] I think the genie is out of the bottle on the cannabis plant.

John : Whoa! I love it. I love it!

Kevin : Yeah. I'm hopeful, [but] maybe I have rose-colored glasses - or green-colored glasses. [laughter]

John : [laughter] I'm just thinking, 'Let's put on our green glasses and take a field trip to Uraguay.' [laughter]

Kevin : Yeah, right. [laughter] Yeah, I've wanted to go to Denver. I interviewed a guy a while back, and I wrote a song, "The Official Cryptocurrency Song", and it references taking a trip to Denver. Yeah, I would love to go to Denver and see what they could offer me that's either smokeable, or in terms of an oil, that would help my chronic pain.

Kevin : They have great transdermals there, which are good for pain, in that the transdermals bypass the liver.

John : Oh, wow.

Kevin : Many of the cannabinoids, when they go through the liver, they change. THC moves from delta-9 to 11-hydroxy THC, which is like eight times more psychoactive, and is a different drug. So a lot of people lose their minds on edibles, because [they] metabolize it differently, and don't anticipate that. But the same thing is true with some of the transdermals - that they go venously through your system, and they can reach parts of your body before your liver metabolizes them, and [it] gives you a very different profile.

[48:04] John : Hmm.

Kevin : You can apply them locally to where the pain is. They're showing a lot of success with CBD, and CBN-based transdermals. There's even some THC-A and THC-1 [strains] they have. [I think] "Mary's Medicinal" has a lot of them out of the Colorado area. But it's definitely worth a try. If you've got bone aches, and anything with osteoarthritis, there's all of these papers coming out showing that it reverses that.

John : Wow!

Kevin : So there's good reason to look into it. When you look at the other options that you have from the pharmaceutical industry they're not really compelling.

John : No, that's right. Listen man, if you ever need someone to be in one of your trials, or to test, I'm the guy.

Kevin : All right. Yeah. We're trying to organize a chronic pain study actually, and we're just at the earliest stage of this, so we'll keep that in mind. We're looking for people -- we're going to screen them all for this particular variant in the "TRAP1" gene to see who has it and who doesn't, and then see if there's a response.

John : Uh-huh.

Kevin : But the amazing thing about this is there's so many users that you can do all these great retrospective trials just by [the] interview process, and speaking with people.

[49:04] John : Wow.

Kevin : [Like] by doing surveys, like, 'Okay. [For] the millions users who are out there, let's look for all the ones who have chronic pain, and find out whether THC or CBD is working for them.' All these types of studies are starting to kick off now that people can leverage these types of social media mechanisms to do it.

John : Man, that's exciting stuff. So for me, in particular, how would it work? You guys fly me to Denver, put me up in a nice hotel, and I just spend my time smoking different strains? Is that basically how it would work?

Kevin : [laughter] No...

John : Is there a food allowance, or anything?

Kevin : No, unfortunately there's not. There are some regulations involved in how we do these studies.

John : Oh, man!

Kevin : There's always an "informed consent" process, which is a lot of legalese for 'If you hurt yourself on this we don't have ambulance-chasing lawyers coming after people.'

John : [laughter]

Kevin : But there's also usually - after an "informed consent" - they tend to always do a placebo group and an anonymous group, and I don't think anyone's doing stuff with smoking, because it's just considered politically -- despite Donald Hashkin's work, it's still considered political taboo. They're trying to go with edibles...

[50:08] John : Yeah.

Kevin : ... and transdermals. So I think that's where most of the studies are happening. There's some going on in Montreal as well.

John : Oh, wow.

Kevin : Canada, as you know, is federally medical, so medical marijuana is legal across all of Canada federally, but recreation is still, I think, up-in-the-air there. So there's a lot of studies breaking out there. There's some studies in Australia as well. There was just a $34 million grant given to an institution out of Sydney, I believe...

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : ... and there it's specifically for cannabinoid research. So I think we're going to see some traction there. That's exciting to hear.

John : Wow, this is all great stuff. So, Kevin, if you could, tell our listeners the best way that they can find out more about Medicinal Genomics, Courtagen Lifesciences, [the] International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS), how they can get involved, how they could apply, [and] how they can learn more about all of this.

Kevin : Sure. So, [at], if you go to that website there will be a page there for "resources", and it will have a handful of presentations we've done on work that we’re doing in the cannabis genetics area.

[51:09] There's also a Kannapedia website. You can just Google Kannapedia - with a "K" - and you'll find this whole blockchain distributed consensus system for the phylogenetics of cannabis. The other stuff you'll find on Medicinal Genomics website are all of these mold and bacteria tests that we're putting out. The states are copying the California model, and demanding that every pound - every five pounds - get tested with six different tests. We've converted all of those tests into quantitative PCR tests, and we're rolling those out to markets in many states. Nevada is coming online very hard right now, as well as Oregon and Washington, and Denver and Alaska and D.C. They're all medically lit up. [Massachusetts] is a little behind, because we put too much faith in regulators in [Massachusetts], and it turned into a mess.

John : Hmm.

Kevin : Not surprisingly.

John : Right.

Kevin : Then the Courtagen side is focused on clinical sequencing of those other disease areas, like : epilepsy, mitochondrial disease, and autism.

[52:00] They are looking to hire folks that have genetic counseling and pharmacogenetics backgrounds.

John : MmmHmm.

Kevin : They're regulated along a CLIA and [Catmeyer?], which is still [two] different voluntary regulatory committees that more or less compete, which is great. We're actually certified by both of them in all 49 states but New York. New York is always the last leg of hope in regulation, right?

John : [laughter]

Kevin : Hopefully we'll convert that New York one later this year. But that's a very interesting field as well. The FDA is just starting to tamper with whether you can or can't sequence your genome.

John : Okay.

Kevin : Right not it's illegal. We can't technically sequence your genome, John. We have to get a doctor to write the script to do it, because you might hurt yourself.

John : [laughter]

Kevin : I say that in jest.

John : [laughter] It sounds painful, man.

Kevin : It does, yeah. But you can go to either of the sites - or, and there will be links there that relate to the two different markets that the companies [are] focused on. But I think what you'll see over time is [that] although they look like complete tangential fields, in the next five years they're giong to be completely overlapped that you won't notice a difference.

[53:05] There's going to be so much effort in neurology that's related to cannabinoids that it's going to appear to be not two different companies, but one, which is why it is, in fact, one right now. It's technically a wholly owned sub. Medicinal Genomics is a wholly owned sub of Courtagen.

John : Wow. You know, so many people worldwide with chronic pain, people with seizures, people with autism, people with Alzheimer's - and so many people that need help - if everybody put their voices together we could really make a different. I like to think [that] what you're doing, I think, is crucial to the history of medicine, and I think it's just amazing. I'm so happy that you were able to join us today and talk to our listeners about all of this. Listeners, you've bee listening to Kevin McKernen, the chief scientist of Medicinal Genomics and Courtagen LifeSciences. Kevin, any last words for our listeners?

Kevin : I think the Bitcoin world is so full of leapfrogging technologies that I encourage everyone who's in that space to try and collide it with this new personalized medicine revolution.

[54:02] Because leapfrogging is what has to happen, and continues to happen in all technological fields, and nowhere is it more obvious than these two spaces. So the two should somehow merge and work together, because I think it's an exciting field to completely disrupt the way healthcare actually functions. And without healthcare your Bitcoins aren't going to be worth much.

John : Listeners, I hope you were listening to that, because that's some important stuff. Kevin McKernen, thank you so much.

Kevin : All right. Thank you, John. [I] appreciate the time, and all the effort here. [I] love the show.

John : Hey, thanks a lot. Next time you're in Nashville I hope we can get together again and have some more barbeque and beers at Drifter's.

Kevin : Oh, you bet. I'm in. Sign me up.

kn [laughter] All right. Thanks man!

Kevin : Good stuff. All right. Take care, John.

John : All right. You too.

Kevin : All right. Bye.

John : Bye.


John : This episode of Bitcoins & Gravy is brought to you by our good friends at . Made by hand in small batches, right here in East Nashville, Tennessee, Moonshine Cowboy Bootwax is the original, all-natural, non-toxic bootwax with a scent of orange.

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[56:00] [music and lyrics to “Ode to Satoshi” song]

John Barrett : Now climb aboard y’all! This train is bound for glory… and there’s plenty of room for all…

“Well Satoshi Nakamoto, that's a name I love to say, And we don't know much about him, but he came to save the day. When he wrote about the way things are, And the way things ought to be, He gave us all a protocol this world had never seen.

Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain, Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna’ reign, Till everybody knows, everybody knows, Till everybody knows your name.

[guitar instrumental]

Down the road it will be told about the Death of Old Mount Gox, About traders trading alter coins, and miners mining blocks. But them good old boys back in Illinois, And on down through Tennessee, See they don't care to be a millionaire, They're just wanting to be free.

[57:00] Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old Blockchain, Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna’ reign, Till everybody knows, everybody knows, Till everybody knows your name.

[instrumental interlude]

From the ghettos of Calcutta, to the halls of Parliament, While the bankers count our money out for every government. Oh, Bitcoin flies on through the skies of virtuality, A promise to deliver us from age-old tyranny.

Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain, Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna’ reign, Till everybody knows, everybody knows, Till everybody knows your name. Till everybody knows, everybody knows, Till everybody knows your -- "Give me some exposure" -- Everybody knows your name.

[58:08] Singing, Oh Lord, pass me some more, Oh Lord, before I have to go. Oh Lord, pass me some more, Oh Lord . . . before I have to . . . Go . . .

[instrumental finale]


John : Oh-ho! Thank you East Nashville! Y’all be good to each other out there, ya’ hear?


John : I know that it may sound absurd, but I have for you a magic word, and today the magic word is "genetics"... [as] in the sentence, "I'm thrilled that cannabis genetics is now being taken seriously, and I applaud the efforts of brilliant people like Kevin McKernen, whose intellect and moral compass make him a leader in the future of medicine and health for people worldwide.


[59:26] John : If you would like to hear more about my life in East Nashville, Tennessee - about the people and the places that make this place great - feel free to check out my recently-launched podcast "East Nashville Now!" It can be found by going to . I'd like to thank my guest on today's show, Kevin McKernen. Kevin, thank you so much for the valuable work you're doing, and please know that we here in the Bitcoin community, worldwide, understand that you're doing and appreciate it more than you know.

[60:02] I received an email the other day from a listener named Ron Frazier. Ron wrote, "Hi John. I heard your recent podcast about the documentary [film] "Bitcoin : The End Of Money As We Know It". I was impressed, and went out and bought it on Vimeo, and then downloaded it. [I] just finished watching it. I really enjoyed it, and thought it was really well done. It's a great introductory film with lots of good background on money systems. Good job on the narration, [and I'm] looking forward to part two - in parentheses, he says - "...if there ever is one. Sincerely, Ron Frazier." Thanks Ron. [That's] much appreciated. Yes, this film just keeps getting better and better as more people find out about it.


[61:05] John : Signing off now from East Nashville, Tennessee. I'm your host John Barrett, here each week with my trusty dog Maxwell by my side. Say "goodbye" Maxwell.

Maxwell : Grrr...

John : Yáll be good to each other, and remember that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men - and women - to do nothing. Do something people; write a book, send an email [or] a text [or] a tweet, make a phone call, start a blog or a podcast, knock on a door, [just] do something. And remember the wise words of Dale Carnegie, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage." If you want to conquer fear do not sit home and think about it, [but] go out and get busy. See you next week, friends.


[Voice of] Andreas Antonopoulos : We have front row seats in the development of a historic technology that is doing things that have never been done before, and every day that goes by I just feel amazed at having this opportunity to be front-line observer - and sometimes influencer - in what is turning out to be, perhaps, a historic, generational, worldwide, impactful, disruptive change in technology; one that will create history. And that is an amazing feeling.

[62:25] [MUSIC AND TEXT FROM "Bitcoin : The End Of Money As We Know It"

John Barrett (Narrator) : Look closely. What do we all have in common. No matter what corner of the world you live in, you need food, water, shelter, and money. Half of every transaction involves money in exchange for goods or services : stocks, a loaf of bread, illegal drugs. You gotta to pay for it. We spend much of our lives chasing money to make a living and accomplish our dreams. But it's also an instrument of destruction - some might say evil - driving criminals to lie, steal, and even murder.

[63:06] Andreas Antonopoulos : The existing banking system extracts enormous value from society, and it is parasitic in nature.

John Barrett : Money is the catalyst for the worst and the best of human endeavor. Before civilization we created currency, to fuel the wars [in] the path to power - champion and enemy - of innovation. Money is so integral to our society, and our global economy, that its true nature remains a mystery to most. This is the story of money, perhaps the end money as we know it. No matter how fat your bank account, or how thin you wallet, to us it's all cold, hard cash. There are some who want to kill it, get rid of it - [to] burn your dollars, your euros, your yen - and transform every penny you have into ones and zeros.

[64:03] Digital currencies [are] trusted to the web, and computers spread across the planet - magic internet money. It's called cryptocurrency; Bitcoin. Invented in secret, it was a gift to the world.

Scott Li : "It's not just a currency, but it's actually programmable money."

John Barrett : A potential curse on bankers.

Roger Ver : I mean, there's nothing that the big banks or politicians can do to stop it.

John Barrett : Breaking every government's grip on money.

Eric Benz : "What the internet did for information, Bitcoin is doing for money."

Speaker 6 : "Could it be the new gold?"

Alan Greenspan : "[laughter] No, you have to really stretch your imagination to infer what the intrinsic value of Bitcoin is."

Paul Vigna : "Regulators, the Federal Reserve, [and] the banking system, need to understand this is a thing that they have to take seriously.

Jeffrey Tucker : This is going to change the economic culture.

Nicholus Gruen : "Bitcoin could be a micro-economic miracle worker, and it could be a macro-economic wrecking ball."

[65:04] John Barrett : Is Bitcoin the currency of the future? A godsend for criminals? Or a recipe for financial disaster? If you trust your money just as it is we have a little story to share.


Maxwell : Grr...