potlede.jpgMayor Gavin Newsom was in a proud mood Monday when he announced his coup du jour: pharmaceutical giant Bayer HealthCare has pledged to put 65 bodies to work in something called an “Innovation Center.”

Whatever that is exactly is not important, for it will be in San Francisco and specifically in Mission Bay, in office space near the new UC-San Francisco campus once to be occupied by Pfizer. That company, possibly most famous for its trademark love potion and party pill Viagra, last year pulled out of a deal to make parking for Giants games and industrial healthcare go hand-in-hand.

But perhaps this (in Newsom’s words) “exciting and significant achievement” to lure Bayer researchers away from existing offices in Richmond shouldn’t be any surprise: after all, that cash-strapped community isn’t nearly the “innovator” with medical marijuana that San Francisco is.

You see, Bayer is poised to make an absolute killing in California should a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana consumption be approved by the voters in November: the multinational conglomerate is the sole licensed distributor of a synthetic THC product called Sativex.

Produced by a UK-based company called GW Pharma, Sativex has been approved for a multitude of uses in both the UK and Canada, and is hailed as a — wait for it — “innovative” prescription drug solution for patients suffering from cancer, MS, and a host of other maladies.

Of course, Sativex is nothing new per se: the drug has been patented in the UK for almost a decade, and Bayer has been its sole marketer and distributor — and we can assume manufacturer and tester — for seven years.

And of course, there are ample US federal regulations standing in the way of any major company wishing to cash in on an emerging marijuana market in America. However, we can’t help but notice: Richmond’s politicians have put a lid on new cannabis dispensaries in that town, and no such restrictions exist here in San Francisco.

And what better to elicit some “entrepreneurial” inspiration than a sample of a sweet sativa strain, grown closer to Mission Bay than many might think? Pass the pills on the left hand side.

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