By Juliette Fairley
The American government owns a CBD patent even though the plant that it comes from isn’t exactly legal on a federal level.
“The NIH may have gotten the patent to control the use of CBDs and prevent them from being added to the list of controlled substances,” said Bob Hoban, a cannabis and CBD attorney in Denver. “If the government controls the patent for CBDs, they can stop scientists and manufacturers from researching and creating synthetic CBD products.”
CBD refers to cannabinoids, which are compounds in the marijuana plant that have medical benefits without psychoactive impact.
“They have licensed this patent to companies that are creating and investigating cannabinoid compounds for the treatment of disease,” said Douglas Sorocco, a biochemist and intellectual property lawyer in Oklahoma.
KannaLife Science is one company that has obtained a license to that patent. “We have right of first refusal for non pharmaceutical products created by KannaLife Sciences,” said Edgar Montero, vice president of international expansion with Kannaway, an Amway-like CBD and hemp network marketing company.
Both KannaLife Sciences and Kannaway are subsidiaries of Medical Marijuana Inc. (OTC Pink: MJNA), which trades as a penny stock.
According to Hoban, “You can’t sell CBD pharmaceuticals in the U.S. without going through the government to get permission.” Obtained in October 2003, US Patent 6630507, titled cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants, is owned by the National Institutes of Health.
“This patent indicates that the NIH is doing one of its jobs, which is researching the effectiveness of certain compounds for the treatment of highly debilitating diseases and costly medical conditions,” Sorocco said.
Marijuana strains however will not be patented until the plant is legalized on a federal level or taken off the list of Schedule I drugs. “Lots of marijuana entrepreneurs have tried to patent their strain of marijuana but it’s illegal,” Hoban said. “CBDs are not illegal.”
Since marijuana can be reproduced sexually with male and female plants that make pollen and seeds, it is possible that a strain of cannabis could be developed that has been changed or manipulated to overcome the prohibition on patenting products of nature.
“The patentee would have to show that the strain had not previously existed and that it wasn’t obvious over prior strains but the amount of technical data needed to prove that a strain is novel and non-obvious is likely to be out of reach for most growers because it requires genetic analysis of the plants,” Sorocco explained.
In addition to marijuana being illegal federally, another obstacle is the fact that marijuana is naturally occurring from the earth. According to Sorocco, “If a composition exists in nature, it is not patentable according to the Supreme Court unless it has somehow been changed or manipulated by the hand of man.”