What a Looming Patent War Could Mean for the Future of the Marijuana Industry
On August 4, 2015, US officials quietly made history by approving the first-ever patent for a plant containing significant amounts of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to the patent’s holders, their lawyers, and outside experts in intellectual property law.
Patent No. 9095554, issued to a group of breeders in California, “relates to specialty cannabis plants, compositions and methods for making and using said cannabis plants and compositions derived thereof,” according to the 145-page document, which is filled with charts, graphs, and reams of scientific jargon describing a range of hybrid strains with distinctive ratios of cannabinoids.
“There is a real need for cannabis varieties for potential medical use that produce modulated THC concentrations and varying concentrations of other pharmacologically active substances,” the patent says. “There is also a need for healthier cannabis for recreational use with reduced negative side effects from THC. The inventions described herein meet that long-felt need.”
But while the patent may inaugurate a new era of acceptance for marijuana in the US, it also opens up a new source of turmoil for the fast-growing industry: disputes over the intellectual property rights to America’s most potent and innovative marijuana strains.