A PotNetwork News investigative report: Bomi Joseph’s “hops-derived” CBD was a world-changing cannabis alternative fought over by Isodiol and Medical Marijuana Inc. But he lied about his discovery — and his identity.
In a presentation for Medical Marijuana Inc. subsidiary Kannaway, Bomi Joseph explained the process his team used to parse the bioactivity of Humulus-based, or “hops-derived” CBD. “Monoclonal antibody interaction with ultra-centrifuged Cannabidiol from inflorescence, was identified as ‘gold standard,’” read Mr. Joseph’s opening slide under the headline “Evaluating CBD.”
He bombarded the audience with the complicated science behind his discovery, a headline-grabbing alternative to cannabis branded as ImmunAG and sold by Medical Marijuana as Real Scientific Humulus Oil.
“This is total bullshit,” Dr. Volker Christoffel told PotNetwork.
The discovery of cannabidiol from Humulus kriya is a fraudulent one, based on plagiarised research and outright deception an investigation by PotNetwork News has found.
Mr. Joseph claimed to have found the world’s first alternative source of highly-bioactive CBD through his organization, Peak Health Center in Los Gatos, California, deceit that garnered him favorable press, speaking engagements, and financial gain. In fact, based on his plagiarised research and dubious claims, Mr. Joseph secured himself deals with two publicly-traded companies in the cannabis sector, Isodiol and Medical Marijuana Inc.
The investigation by PotNetwork News, based on an in-depth review of Mr. Joseph’s research, a trove of confidential documents, and interviews with people familiar with the events discovered that Dr. Bomi Boban Joseph is, in fact, Moses Sunith Prasad Joseph, a former venture fund manager and convicted con artist who stole over $20 million from Wells Fargo Bank, Bank One, and Eastman Kodak, among others, in the early 2000s.
Moses Joseph's mugshot from the early 200s
“There is no gold standard in CBD analysis, you need a combination of analytical methods to identify and to quantify a compound,” continued Dr. Christoffel. “Gold standards in analysis of plant constituents are HPLC or GC coupled to sensitive detectors depending on the nature of the analyte (e.g., mass spectrometry).”
Dr. Christoffel, of Christoffel Scientific Consulting in Sengenthal, Germany has spent a considerable amount of time studying the chemical makeup of cannabidiol. He’s spent the past 10 years as a peer reviewer for the high ranking scientific journal, Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Two years ago, along with Dr. Michael Bodensteiner of the University of Regensburg and a few other respected researchers, he published a paper on the topic, “Cannabidiol Revisited,” at the International Union of Crystallography and deposited the data set publicly for specialists.
The so-called Dr. Bomi Joseph plagiarised that paper — upwards of 72 percent word-for-word and the rest with some creative reshuffling — publishing it in a journal of his own making, Journal of Medical Phyto Research, under the title “Identification of cannabidiol from Humulus Kriya using x-ray crystallography.”
Confronted with this evidence, Bomi Joseph denied everything, going so far as to put the blame on his co-author, Donish Cushing.
“I don’t want to burn people, I don’t want to say anything negative, but I found out about a month ago that that article that was written, that analysis that was plagiarised by Donish [Cushing] he’s the one who published,” said Mr. Joseph in an interview with PotNetwork. “He was hired for that, for writing articles. And he’s no longer with us.”
However, Donish Cushing appears to be a ghost. His social media accounts have been wiped off the internet, and his name does not appear in any significant web search.
More to the point, Mr. Joseph has always taken credit for the discovery of “hops-based” or CBD from Humulus kriya. In interviews with numerous outlets, including PotNetwork News, Mr. Cushing was never once mentioned. And while his name does appear in a few press released put out by Peak Health Center, it’s hard to find anyone who has met the man.
Furthermore, it’s not the only paper of Joseph’s that was plagiarised. An article called “Bioactive cannabidiol more greatly reduces valvular interstitial cell calcification when combined with ß-Caryophyllene, and α-Humulene,” published in the Journal of Medical Phyto is at least a 30 percent word-for-word match to a similarly titled article “Role of the MAPK/ERK pathway in valvular interstitial cell calcification
.Overall, Mr. Joseph denied what was right in front of his eyes.
“I can’t comment on that, right,” he said. “All I can do is give you my ID and show you who I am. I’ve got a Driver’s License, I’ve got a California ID.”
He denied knowing Michael Brubeck, CEO of Centuria, despite PotNetwork News having seen email correspondence and heard phone records between the two men. His denials became so forceful that the conversation was heated at times, with Mr. Joseph refusing to accept the evidence presented before him.
“The whole story with CBD from hop is insane,” Dr. Christoffel told PotNetwork via email. “By the phylogenetic relatedness it MIGHT be possible, that some hop varieties may have genes and express i.e., form cannabinoids — the biochemical pathways are not so different and there is a theoretical possibility I would not exclude a priori. BUT these are definitively only traces.”
Point blank, Dr. Christoffel stated that hops, or Humulus kriya, does not have enough traces of CBD to make it a viable product.
“To judge the true content of CBD in the plant the figures of a milligram of CBD per gram dried plant part is pivotal,” noted Dr. Christoffel. “This is simple to calculate and standard information. Joseph avoids [giving] such a figure. This triggers the suspicion that the alleged Humulus yuannensis sport has not enough CBD to extract reasonable amounts. The steps of extraction and the ratio of CBD towards other Humulus constituents could be an indicating figure, but again, [there are] no description, no figures.”
“There is nothing, nothing worth,” he continued. “It is just marketing to drive their shares.”
Moses Joseph was arrested for passport fraud last year and is set to be sentenced in April
“...the trick was just finding the first few samples.”
On Nov. 14, 2017, Isodiol International Inc. put out a press release announcing the U.S. sales launch of a new hops-derived CBD product under the brand name ImmunAG.
“The release of ImmunAG is a monumental milestone for Isodiol, as it marks the industry’s first foray into non-cannabis CBD products,” said Marcos Agramont, CEO of Isodiol in a pre-written statement. “This launch is a continuation of our company strategy to provide a diverse range of products as we strive to increase shareholder value by creating entirely new market segments.”
Mr. Agramont nor Isodiol never once mentioned Bomi Joseph’s name, even as they planned to showcase their new product at that year’s Marijuana Business Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. That slight would eventually lead to its own small media circus, including right here on the pages of PotNetwork News where Mr. Joseph spoke candidly about his background and his research.
Bomi Joseph's contract with Isodiol, along with other documents from a lawsuit he bagan against them last year
It would also lead to the termination of the relationship between Isodiol and Mr. Joseph, which allowed him to sign a new deal with Medical Marijuana Inc. and their wholly-owned subsidiaries Kannaway and HempMeds.
PotNetwork News contacted representatives of both Isodiol and Medical Marijuana Inc. for this story, both of whom declined to comment for this story.
But starting with that announcement in mid-November 2017, Humulus kriya-derived CBD took the cannabis industry, and the media by storm. For the better part of 2018, the story made its way into industry rags such as Merry Jane, Cannabiz Journal, The Fresh Toast, Pop Sugar, Civilized, and more.
In Westword, Mr. Joseph spoke of how he discovered the new compound in the Silk Road region of northern India, a story he repeated to PotNetwork News as well. It was there, he said, that he found Humulus kriya with high concentrations of CBD.
“We were hoping to find what we call dominant species with cannabinoids and CBD, but as luck would have it, we didn’t,” Mr. Joseph told PotNetwork in August 2018. “We found that it was a recessive trait. And from the thousands of samples we collected, we’d find, maybe 1 in 800 or 1 in 1,000 that had some cannabinoids in it. But the trick was just finding the first few samples.”
More documents from his deal with Isodiol
Dr. Stuart Titus, the CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc. joined Mr. Joseph on his media tour, where he helped to promote the science of Humulus kriya.
(The designation Humulus kriya itself is a falsehood, it should be noted. As Dr. Christoffel pointed out to PotNetwork News, in italic, it is the scientific convention for Linnéan nomenclature of a species. The correct writing would be Humulus yuannenis var. “Kriya,” but only if the variety is registered officially can one add “var. Kriya.” According to Dr. Christoffel, when Mr. Joseph wrote Humulus kriya, he mislead the public, as his variety is neither a species and very probably not a registered variety. But using the “Kriya” helped him to generate the trademark.)
“Just to add to some of Dr. Joseph’s comments, certainly, he mentioned a little bit earlier in our interview about the bioactivity,” Dr. Titus told PotNetwork News in August of 2018. “It’s so interesting, this concept, that really this product does seem to be able to hit the receptor sites of the human body in tremendous ways confers a significant amount of therapeutics.”
And although Mr. Joseph had some critics at the time, with some questioning the validity of his discovery and others poking holes in his story, the cannabis industry embraced him. “Hops-derived” CBD had made its way onto the world’s stage.
The lawsuit he filed against Jared Berry
“Bomi’s my nickname, it’s what my friends call me.”
“We were introduced to Bomi Joseph in 2016,” Michael Brubeck, founder and CEO of Centuria, a Nevada-based water-soluble CBD manufacturer who has been the largest CBD importer on record since 2014 told PotNetwork News. “He reached out to us after testing Centuria’s material, claiming that our ingredients had the highest bioactivity of any CBD product that he had ever tested. Bioactivity, different from bioavailability, was allegedly the indicator Joseph discovered by finding how powerful the bonds were between the CB1 and CB2 receptor sites and the cannabidiol molecule, which was more important from an efficacy standpoint than bioavailability.”
Mr. Brubeck, who has been in the legal cannabis industry for almost 15 years, was flattered. At the time, he understood Mr. Joseph to be a highly-educated, well-respected oncologist, surgeon, and researcher in his field of study.
“It was the highest [bioactivity] he tested of any company, “ said Mr. Brubeck. “For that reason, he expressed wanting to work with us,”
In 2016, Mr. Joseph claimed to be running research trials on patients with pancreatic cancer. According to Mr. Brubeck, it was a 120-some-odd person study in which Mr. Joseph was attempting to identify proper dosages of CBD. He wanted permission to use Centuria’s product, claiming that attaching the company’s name to his study would make them the biggest brand in the industry.
“Centuria provides CBD to medical researchers at no charge; we’re happy to provide it for all clinical research, especially for oncology,” said Mr. Brubeck.
Mr. Joseph, who along with his research into pancreatic cancer told Mr. Brubeck he was looking into glioblastoma, breast cancer, epilepsy, visual impairments and more, sought out nearly 3 kilos of molecule. According to documentation reviewed by PotNetwork, Mr. Joseph requested 2000 bottles of CBD from Centuria at 50 mg each — all of it free from THC.
Research Mr. Joseph presented to Mr. Brubeck (original below)
At the same time, Mr. Joseph was also purchasing cannabidiol from Isodiol at a discount cost of $15,000 per kilo according to documentation reviewed by PotNetwork. And while at first, he negotiated below-cost prices for the product, he soon began attempting to trade transferable tax credits in exchange for CBD.
In one email to Isodiol in early September 2016, Mr. Joseph questioned why the price of CBD crystal had dropped from $28,000 to $19,500 a kilo. He goes on to ask if he can purchase one or two more kilos at $10,000 per, with a tax credit of $9,500 per kilo. Having already received these products at well below cost, representatives from Isodiol seemed hesitant to move forward.
Moreover, Mr. Joseph claimed to have his own hops manufacturing plant in India.
“I questioned why he was continually buying large volumes of Isolate from brokers that work with Centuria when he had his own hops manufacturing facility in India,” asked Mr. Brubeck. “Hops extract is about $200/ per kilo in the U.S. and likely much cheaper in India.”
Things began to really go south between Mr. Brubeck and Mr. Joseph that following October, at a meeting in Mr. Joseph’s temporary Regus office in San Francisco.
“That’s when his first name came up,” said Mr. Brubeck. “After asking the receptionist for his full name, he replied, ‘Bomi’s my nickname — it’s what my friends call me.’”
“That was a red flag,” said Mr. Brubeck. “I started to wonder what his actual name was. Later, we would ask why he was renting an office from jail.”
According to Mr. Brubeck, some of the claims that Mr. Joseph had been making up to that point began to fall apart. He told the team at Centuria that he was on the board of Glaxo-Smith Kline India, as well as the board of Otsuka USA. A couple of quick phone calls easily debunked those claims, and, furthermore, Mr. Joseph’s name is nowhere to be found on GSK India’s website.
In one email exchange reviewed by PotNetwork News, Mr. Joseph told Mr. Brubeck that “Otsuka USA had their Board meeting on Friday Nov 11th 2016 at our [Peak Health] Los Gatos facility.” Otsuka USA later confirmed to Mr. Brubeck that they do not have board meetings outside of their offices in New Jersey.
The article that Mr. Joseph plagiarised (from above)
Mr. Brubeck also discovered that Mr. Joseph’s organization, Peak Health Center, which he claimed to be a non-profit 501(c)(3), was not listed as such by the IRS.
Asked to qualify his statements, Mr. Joseph went on the defensive.
“We haven't made the decision to use the [CBD] from you,” wrote Mr. Joseph in an email dated Nov. 28, 2016. “Since you can't verify who I am let's move on. It's makes my decision on a CBD supplier easier. We will find another CBD supplier.”
And as Dr. Christoffel told PotNetwork News via email, the idea of bioactivity sold by Mr. Joseph would seem to be a canard. “Receptorbinding is NOT ‘bioactivity,’ it is just the affinity of a compound towards the receptor,” he wrote.
Curious, Mr. Brubeck dug deeper into the background of Bomi Boban Joseph, and learned so much more about the man who “discovered” Humulus kriya.
An email from Ravi Shastri, who is actually an alias of Bomi Joseph
“...the most physically and psychically prepared CEO…”
On Jan. 22, 2019, Bomi Boban Joseph pleaded guilty to one count of False Statement in Application for Passport and is set to be sentenced in federal court in late April in front of U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman. According to information discovered by PotNetwork News, the original charge was felony violation 18 USC 1542 for using a false name on a passport application in 2014 — Revi Kumar Shastri.
Revi Kumar Shastri, or Ravi Shastri as he’s also known as, was a co-author of Mr. Joseph’s research paper “Measuring the bioactivity of phytocannabinoid cannabidiol from cannabis sources, and a novel non-cannabis source.” He also sent Michael Brubeck an email on July 6, 2016, telling him how to check the bioactivity of CBD.
According to Wikipedia, Ravi Shastri is an Indian cricket commentator, former player and current head coach of the Indian national cricket team.
Revi Kumar Shastri is not, however, Mr. Joseph’s only alias. In fact, as Mr. Brubeck learned, and as PotNetwork News confirmed, Bomi Boban Joseph is actually Moses Sunith Prasad Joseph, a convicted felon previously sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison for defrauding various companies of upwards of $20 million.
Mr. Brubeck initially made the link between Bomi Boban Joseph and Moses Joseph, but, a lack of online photographs or other smoking gun evidence forced him to stop short from confirming his identity. However, PotNetwork News was able to obtain a copy of Mr. Joseph’s mugshot from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in California, positively confirming that the two men are one and the same.
Furthermore, Mr. Joseph’s hubris has also been helpful in making the connection. In 1996, Inc. Magazine published an article about Moses Joseph, “Black Belt Boss: Here's a look at a day in the life of one of the most physically and psychically prepared CEOs around.” The article, which describes both Mr. Joseph’s physical fitness routine and extremely lavish lifestyle, is also quoted on Bomi Joseph’s personal website, where, above a large photo of him swinging on some bars it reads, “The most physically and psychically prepared CEO around," with an attribution to Inc. Magazine.
Starting in 1999, Moses Joseph was a venture capitalist who managed the Anila Fund, a $15 million fund based out of Palo Alto. According to a report in the New York Times from 2008, he founded a number of other small funds and shell companies, including Anila.org, which was a tech incubator, and PowerWAN, a start-up whose goal was to sell broadband over power lines.
Case documents show that Mr. Joseph received lines of credit from U.S. Bank based on forged documents. In one example, he provided the bank with statements showing that he had assets of $30 million from a brokerage firm, even though that brokerage firm had no record of having ever done business with him.
The amount of deceit and fraud committed by Mr. Joseph in the early 2000s was extensive. In 2001 he convinced Eastman Kodak to form a venture capital fund with Anila, duping Kodak into giving him $3.7 million based on false bank statements that showed Anila had deposited $4 million into the fund. Mr. Joseph took that money to buy a home in Carmel as well as property in the Santa Lucia Preserve.
Over the next few years, the deception continued, with Mr. Joseph managing various schemes that garnered him $3 million from Silicon Valley Bank, $300,000 from Remington Partners, Inc., a $4 million line of credit from Bank One, and $250,000 more from Wells Fargo, just to name a few.
Prosecutors called him “charming” and marveled at his ability to keep a lie going for such long periods of time. According to the New York Times, however, his attorney at the time argued that Mr. Joseph intended to pay everyone back.
“It’s a sad situation. The broadband product that he was trying to create and sell was a legitimate technology,” his attorney told the Times.
Moses Joseph was arrested in May of 2005 and held on $10 million bail.
Bomi Joseph's plagiarised work, highlighted by Dr. Christoffel
“Identification of cannabidiol from Humulus Kriya using x-ray crystallography”
Bomi Boban Joseph’s website, which is littered with pictures of him in a karate outfit in various fighting poses claims that he has over 42 papers and patents. It even links to a page on the academic website ResearchGate, which does, indeed show 42 research items — dating back to 1962.
By all accounts, Dr. Bomi Joseph was producing academic research at the age of three.
In fact, Mr. Joseph has a long history of plagiarising the academic work of others and claiming it as his own for personal gain. Mr. Brubeck first noticed this in documentation branded by Peak Health, a flyer titled “Cannabinoids (CBD) as adjuvant therapy for pancreatic cancer,” which ended up being a word-for-word reproduction of an abstract for a paper with the same title.
But, perhaps most egregious is Mr. Josephs research into “hops-derived” or CBD from Humulus kriya.
On the surface, Mr. Joseph’s research seems suspect. His articles have all been published in the same journal, Journal of Medical Phyto Research — a journal of his own making. Whereas a legitimate academic paper would be submitted for peer review, his scholarship was reviewed and accepted by himself.
The paper in question, “Identification of cannabidiol from Humulus Kriya using x-ray crystallography,” was received June 19, 2018, accepted June 20, 2018, and published June 26, 2018 — a quick turnaround by any standards.
“It is not published in a reviewed journal but in a private ‘organ’ with a scientific sounding but nonsense title as disguise,” Dr. Christoffel told PotNetwork News. “This ‘publication’ is pure and uncontrolled marketing. No impressum, no rules, nothing.”
PotNetwork News ran Mr. Joseph’s paper through a plagiarism search, where it was first recognized as a match for Dr. Christoffel’s and Dr. Bodensteiner’s “Cannabidiol Revisted.” The two scientists confirmed what appeared obvious on the surface.
“Thank you for drawing my attention to this,” wrote Dr. Bodensteiner. “I fully confirm that the content is identical to our publication in IUCrData and thus stolen from us!”
Dr. Christoffel went further, outlining exactly how much of the paper was stolen, and describing in detail the fault in Mr. Joseph’s supposed research.
“This is an incredible insolence of Mr. Cushing [Joseph’s listed co-author] and Mr. Bomi Joseph,” wrote Dr. Christoffel. “I got the impression that greed kills all intellectual abilities and honesty. The whole story with CBD from hop is insane.”
He continued: “I have done 30 [years] of research in plant constituents, after having identified a constituent in a plant the most important clue is, is the concentration worth to exploit this herbal drug? As Joseph / Isodiol hide this pivotal figure, forget it.”
Moreover, Dr. Christoffel explained that if a plant can form CBD, it very probably can also form THC, that the two normally are synthesized in the plant in conjunction. The idea that Mr. Joseph and Isodiol, and then Medical Marijuana Inc. had found a way around cannabis laws with a THC-free plant is, in the words of Dr. Christoffel, “incredible.”
“With the ability to produce CBD the ability to produce THC is strongly connected,” he told PotNetwork News. “Hence it is extremely unlikely to pretend, THC-free CBD. Especially when information is far from being transparent.”
Dr. Christoffel's orginal work
“1984 is not far away”
“We have a very large CBD distributor in the U.S., and his father-in-law has COPD,” Mr. Joseph told PotNetwork back in August 2018. “He gave his father-in-law the CBD that he was selling, and he felt better, but he still had COPD.”
Mr. Joseph continued, weaving a tale about ImmunAG and how it cured this man’s COPD.
“With the work, we’re doing, we’re not just putting CBD out, we’re trying to put out a quality of CBD that just doesn’t make you feel slightly better, but that makes you feel a whole lot better, that cures you completely,” said Mr. Joseph at the time.
It was, no doubt, a lie. One of many Mr. Joseph has told over the past 20 years or more.
Ten years ago Mr. Joseph’s lawyer was quoted in the New York Times as saying, it’s not like his client “took money from little old ladies. He didn’t. It was from big institutional investors.”
This time around he may very well have stolen from little old ladies, or the sick and injured — from anyone who purchased ImmunAg or Real Scientific Humulus Oil or one of its derivatives in hopes of curing some pain.
“Even [at] aged 70 I am still interested in cannabis and cannabinoids,” wrote Dr. Christoffel, another on of Mr. Joseph’s victims. “All the “bioactivity CBD” is total bullshit as it is simple receptor binding data with minimal meaning. No normal journal would accept such data. But laymen may be impressed.”
He continued: “You live in a country where “alternative truth“ rules. And there are so few people that are able and knowledgeable to recognize this fact. 1984 is not far away.”