Recent concern has been focused on big pharmaceutical companies like Monsanto, GW Pharma and Biotech Institute LLC, which advocates worry could be trying to monopolize the cannabis industry. Cannabis-related companies, big and small, are filing for patents, which is an indication of intent to legally stake claims on large portions of the future cannabis industry.
According to Mowgli Holmes, Ph.D., of Phylos Bioscience, a company called Biotech Institute LLC has been secretively registering patents on the cannabis plant, including a list of current patents on strains. But attorneys say patents in the cannabis industry currently offer little protection, given cannabis’ illegal status on the federal level.
Cannabis companies are filing for patents including utility patents on devices and processes, design patents, and plant patents on sexually-produced strains. Utility patents, some worry, could prevent patients from growing certain strains or making edibles in the comfort of their own home. For instance, Monsanto uses patents to control the majority of America’s corn and soy industries with Patent No US5491295, which means only Monsanto can grow certain corn hybrids.
“While there is a great deal of concern and fear within the cannabis community whether patents will be used by businesses to squash small entrepreneurs and diminish the supply of medicine to the patients who need it most, we believe that the best way to address these concerns is through careful assessment of the facts of a given situation, the law applicable to those facts, and a vigorous debate about what should and shouldn’t be done with patent rights,” reported on the website of Attorney and CULTURE B2B contributor David Branfman of the Branfman Law Group, P.C. “Only time will tell for sure.”
The federal government’s Patent No. 6,630,507 was issued to The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2003. It’s a cruel reminder of the federal government’s stunning hypocrisy, as long as government agencies continue to deny that cannabis has any medical value, as Patent No. 6,630,307 clearly states.
No one knows for sure to what extent patents will be essential for the future of the cannabis industry, but companies definitely believe they will be useful.