The Dangers of Patenting Cannabis – News

With plants, for example, that means you couldn’t patent a wild strain of cannabis you found in nature, because you didn’t manipulate the genetics or breed it yourself. For now, that’s all hypothetical – while there are many patents out there, both for cannabis products and strains, no one has sued over a cannabis patent yet.

Despite what cell biologist David Cohen calls hysteria over the dangers of patenting cannabis, he also points out that the theoretical issue of going to court over a pot patent is just that – theoretical, with little practical likelihood of transpiring in the near or even mid-future. Until there are multi-million dollar products, there probably won’t be much cannabis patent litigation. “It’s the threat of people patenting things they’re not entitled to patent,” Mansfield says is most important, and that’s a current danger, regardless of whether those cannabis patents will lead to federal lawsuits down the road.

One of the main issues in patenting cannabis has to do with “prior art” – whether that which could be patentable is uniquely original, or whether it mimics something that’s already been done.

With cannabis, there can be two types of patents: a utility patent, which requires the invention or newly bred strain to serve a new and useful purpose; and a plant patent, which narrowly protects only a specific genotype and any clones.

“In my view, actual plant patents are no threat to the biodiversity of the industry; they just reward a plant breeder exclusive control over his or her work,” says Dale Hunt, a patent and IP attorney at

It’s possible someone could abuse the patent system, claim a utility patent on a certain family of cannabis strains, and convince an examiner it’s new because there’s no recorded precedent. “The problem with cannabis is there’s no meaningful patent literature or academic literature for the examiner to look at,” says Hunt. “The real problem with utility patents is if people get away with building fences that are too big, they’ll be blocking a whole lot of innovation or commercial activity they shouldn’t be able to block,” says Hunt. That’s why we support plant patents on plants that are asexually reproduced, and we don’t support utility patents, which cover entire genres of cannabis, [and could] prevent important medicines from reaching sick people,” he says. “For patents: the plant patent only covers the genetics, so if you want to cover process and outcome, then you have to go with a utility patent. Utility patents, as we’ve seen, can be dangerous based on their scope. “If we have insufficient evidence to determine newness, then I’m personally not convinced we ought to be issuing patents on cannabis at all.

About Merry Jane

is the definitive cannabis resource on culture, news, video, food and style dedicated to expressing a new cannabis mentality. Through exclusive content and relatable perspectives, MERRY JANE highlights the best of cannabis lifestyle while also offering vital, interactive tools to explore the new frontier of products, dispensaries and community.