Cannabis entrepreneurs have a lot to be worried about these days under the current United States presidential administration. Considering that the plant remains not only illegal on the federal level-despite over half of the country legalizing it in some form or another-but also remains a Schedule One illicit substance, nobody’s saying that you shouldn’t be concerned. There are numerous ways in which this classification hinders progress in terms of cannabis, both in the medical and recreational arms of the growing industry.
In light of all of these (very valid) worries, it seems noteworthy to point out that entrepreneurs can still pursue a patent for cannabis-related products. In fact, the US Patent Office has been granting such patents since 1942.
Since then, over 1,500 cannabis-related requests for patents have been filed through the Patent Office. Over half of these patents were filed in the past 25 years. About half of these 1,500 have been approved, and some have expired. This leaves about 500 or so current patents still out there today.
When it comes to the filing process of these patents as they await approval or rejection, there are three categories that cannabis entrepreneurs should consider:
- Cannabis compositions, drug formulations and methods of preparation
- Characterizations of cannabinoids and how they impact the endocannabinoid system in the human body
- Methods of treating illnesses and ailments with cannabis
Of those pursuing cannabis patents, nearly all of them are from small and midsized companies. Larger pharmaceutical companies have not been exactly active in pursuing patents for products, and a lot of this is credited to the fact that the cannabis industry is so heavily led by startups and upcoming innovators. Some are just no w beginning to take advantage of the fact that cannabis plants themselves can be patented; this is a significantly smaller number than other types of cannabis-related patent requests the office has received, but could provide a great deal of room for growth for entrepreneurs.
Click here to read the Forbes interview with David Cohen, PhD, who deals with cannabis patents.
Photo by DonGoofy