US Government Patents Medical Pot

The extent of the federal government’s hypocrisy on the issue of medicinal cannabis truly knows no bounds. Don’t believe me? Just click here.
(Thanks to Huffington Post blogger Brinna for the link.)

US Patent 6630507 – Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants
Application: filed on 2/02/2001
US Patent Issued on October 7, 2003
Assignee: The United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services

And there you have it. The same federal government that steadfastly denies pot has any medicinal value also holds the medical patents on the plant’s various therapeutic cannabinoids. And they aren’t the only ones who do.
NORML podcaster Russ Belville and I will be discussing this issue in depth — as well as the related issue of whether or not Big Pharma is behind the prohibition of pot — on the Daily Audio Stash next week.
Stay tuned.

0 thoughts

  1. I did a run on patents with cannabinoids and found there to be over a 1000 patents currently registered…. wow, I didn’t know marijuana had this many potential medical purposes

  2. I just noticed on wikipedia as well. I’m surprised it was awarded in 2003, but NORML is just now reporting it.
    Since one part of the government applied for a patent on medical pot, a health institution, and another part of the government granted that patent, I think we can all assume then the federal government recognizes pot as a medicine. Therefore, what is the next step in getting the government to repeal the marijuana law or getting the government to see pot as a medicine like any other? Maybe I’m being naive here.
    Sounds like a law suit just waiting to happen. As NORML is a lobbying group, what is the group’s plan on handling this with the federal government?

  3. I don’t think this analysis is accurate. THe patent doesn’t make evident that the canabinoids patented include those the plant produces. Is there some evidence not included in this post that this is the case? I didn’t go through every claim, but nothing jumped out at me
    You should also clarify that they own patents on SOME of the canabinoids.
    And I don’t see evidence, though maybe I missed it, that the current prevailing use, pain and appetite stimulation, are covered by these claims.
    SO I think this article is either misleading or not supported with any evidence.

  4. It’s really time to over throw our government. Round them all up and shoot them point blank in the face.

  5. This is isn’t an admission that medical marijuana works: It’s yet another weapon in the War on Drugs, yet another way to prosecute those who use marijuana as a medicine. If they can’t hit you for possession or distribution, now they can hit you for patent infringement. A patent lawsuit is usually incredibly expensive and tedious to defend against, and who has more lawyers, guns and money, you or the Government of the United States?

  6. I hope that someon initiates a lawsuit immediately. I just wish it could be me. This type of evidence of their acceptance of the medicinal value of cannibinoids should be used against them immediately. I’ve always felt that they were waiting until they could figure out how to extract every single dime from marketing marijuana before they would decriminalize or legalize something any individual can get by dropping a seed in the ground and adding water and sunlight!

  7. Keebler’s hit the nail on the head. I’m guessing the feds foresee losing the legal battle on medical marijuana, so they’re shopping for another enforcement avenue.

  8. Please read:
    to see which cannabinoids are covered and for what purposes (neuroprotectants and antioxidants). No, this patent (obviously) isn’t inclusive to all cannabinoids (e.g., THC is excluded), but it does appear to cover CBD (which occurs naturally in the plant), for instance.
    “In yet other embodiments of the invention, the cannabinoids are
    wherein numbering conventions for each of the ring positions are shown, and R27, R28 and R29 are independently selected from the group consisting of H, unsubstituted lower alkyl such as CH3, and carboxyl such as COCH3. Particular examples of nonpsychoactive cannabinoids that fall within this definition are cannabidiol and
    and other structural analogs of cannabidiol.”
    I’m quite familiar with the work Aiden and colleagues performed in this area (NORML reported on it at the time). I posted this not as a breaking news story, but to make folks aware that the Feds are blatantly talking about of both sides of their mouth on this issue, and on top of that, are positioning themselves to someday profit off a concept (medical marijuana) they deny even exists.

  9. To johnm214: I like that you are skeptical, we need clear heads and eyes. In my reading, however, the patent references cannabinoids in general and cannabidiol specifically. Here is the definition of Cannabidiol from the Unified Medical Language System: Compound isolated from Cannabis sativa extract. (see diseasesdatabase)
    Source: Medical Subject Headings, 2008_2008_02_0
    There is just no two ways about it: this is a patent on the anti-oxidant properties of cannabinoids in general (unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism.) See claim one: 1. A method of treating diseases caused by oxidative stress, comprising administering a therapeutically effective amount of a cannabinoid that has substantially no binding to the NMDA receptor to a subject who has a disease caused by oxidative stress.
    You might object to the terms “patent on Medical Pot”, but don’t you think that is perhaps, splitting hairs? For me, the importance of this patent is that it is a legal document in the public domain filed by and awarded to the US Govt, which blows a huge hole in the Governments position that cannabis has no medical value.
    Whatever the orginal reasons were for filing the patent (noble research — hoping for profit — planning to use it as a “weapon”) the point is that we can hoist them by their own petard. Legal documents speak volumes — particularly to our legislators.
    It is my fondest hope that everyone sends a copy of the patent or a link to it to their respective congress members and senators. The Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendment (which protects the rights of medical cannabis users) is coming up soon for a vote. This patent, were it widely disceminated, would definitely sway that vote in favor of passage.

  10. I don’t care if they profit from marijuana, as long as they legalize it one day I’m fine. Its high time they do, its a crime that its illegal. People shouldn’t be arrested for using such a helpful plant.

  11. Prior art? Like the history of the medicine being used in many cultures throughout history?

  12. Although I find myself angry enough to poke some eyes out sometimes, I must urge all of us to consider the opposites of power and force.
    The powers that be are using force of several kinds and it would be far more effective for us to respond with POWER.
    POWER is what Gandhi used to drive the British from India after 300 years or so of occupation. The details have been well documented so I won’t bore you with all the details. If you don’t know how he achieved this remarkable feat, Please take a minute and look it up. Mohandis also united the Hindu’s and Moslem’s, undoubtedly an even greater feat.
    Violence usually comes from a place of PERSONAL insecurity.
    Only the uneducated and most fearful among us resort to petty violence.
    Let us be better than that people. We have the numbers by a huge margin.
    We can unite. We can win. We can create a future without fear of using the best sacrament and medicine on the planet.
    Spread the word to all you can. Be bold in asserting your rights for are we not we the people? Are we not the owners of this GREAT republic.
    Let freedom RING! You must ring the bell, you must sound the alarm. To arms my fellow Americans. Arm yourself with the power of knowledge. Spout facts about our sacred plants to everyone you contact for the next 30 days.
    This family of plants are far to valuable to be deemed harmful or evil.
    Tell the people who don’t want to listen at first that we could be growing the best bio-diesel fuel there is for about a buck a gallon, see the Department of Agriculture report on this subject. They said a few decades ago it would take 6 to 12 percent of our farmland to provide enough fuel for this whole country using HEMP SEED OIL !
    Arm yourself with the fact that the Cannabis Sativa family of plants have 2000 variety’s and thousands of subspecies. Only 20 percent of witch contain any medical properties.
    Let the people know the government has patents based on this amazing plant for medicine.
    Let the people know we could stop cutting down trees and use HEMP plants to make paper, plastics, building materials of all sorts.
    Tell them about Henry Fords plastic car.
    The video is on U TUBE, go que it up on you parents and grand parents video. We don’t have a second to lose people. The planet is melting and its our planet.
    How bout acting like your life depends on it?
    Lets be willing to take a week off.
    Every one of us. Only the sick and dying and young will be taken care of for a week.
    Let the 7-elevens and wal marts sit idle.
    Pump no gas for one week. Buy no pills from the overlords of this GREAT nation.
    I call a national sit down.
    We are the people. We are the LAWS. We will win.
    The time is now, the place is here.
    I say let us begin this no-violent overthrow at the end of this summer.
    Join me at the last day of August this year.
    If you have vacation time coming, take it at this time.
    Prepare now in your pantry, your bank. slowly fill a few gas cans, store them safe.
    Be with family and friends for a week, catch up on whats going on with who. Relax, breathe, be.
    Find a way to spread the word. If you are on T.V., spread the word.
    If you write for anything, spread the word.
    If you blog spread the word!
    We cannot afford to let the FAT CATS get any fatter.
    Its time to trim the fat people!
    The mighty will fall and our voices will be heard if it is spoken by all of us at once!
    We cannot fail united. We cannot fail united. We cannot fail UNITED.
    It is impossible to fail UNITED!
    Join me, our children’s future rests in the hazy distance.
    Let us not falter at this critical time in our history.
    The only thing needed for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.
    Lets take it back, we can, we must, we shall.
    Who will sit down with me? Make your decision this Independence day to get independent this last day of August, 2008.
    The only thing these overlords understand is money.
    Let us hold back their obscene profits for one full week.
    We will get their attention, I guarantee’s it.
    Let freedom ring loudly this day!
    So let it be written, so let it be done,

  13. I wonder if Jon Gettman found this information useful in his rescheduling effort?
    I assume he has heard about it, though I can’t recall any reference to it in the stuff of his that I’ve read.

  14. I think it is time for a really ballsy group of lawyers to take the fed to task on this matter. In my mind the idea of the fed claiming patents on a plant older than the human species, is about as silly as writing a patent for gravity! Worse than that, they ban everyone else form studying it, and then they want to write patents for it??? You can not have it both ways, if the fed can call it medicine in a PATENT APPLICATION FOR A DRUG DERIVED FROM IT, WE SHOULD BA ABLE TO CALL IT “MEDICINE” TOO!!!

  15. This cant be legal for many reasons. Under this thinking, I am gonna apply for a patent for roses for use on romantic occasions. I dont think its possible because this comes from nature and has been used for thousands of years and documented. NORML PLEASE BRING THIS TO MEDIA AND FIGHT IT !!

  16. Have to agree with ciregg. I don’t understand how a naturally occurring thing can be patented based on its application. What a grand ol’ patent office we have (similar problem exists with patents on computer software).
    Looks like this is a 2 pronged issue: the patent itself and what appears to be an admission by the federal government that cannabinoids can be used as medicine.
    While thinking about this, I began to wonder what exactly makes marijuana illegal. What does law enforcement test for when determining whether something is “cannabis sativa”? If its the presence of THC, then couldn’t one argue that every user of the drug is also illegal to exist? Then the whole issue of how something that is naturally occurring can also be illegal to exist pops up. I wonder if anyone has ever argued that in a court of law. I believe, although not entirely sure, the law states possession, etc of “cannabis sativa” is illegal. I wonder if anyone has every argued that indica is not the same as sativa and thus not illegal. Anyone know.
    Anyway, the article states there is more to come from NORML in their audio broadcasts. I would like to hear an answer to my question I posted here earlier: As NORML is a lobbying group, what is the group’s plan on handling this with the federal government?

  17. good party Steve. wouldn’t it be cool if people would actually do that? its like when a little group of people are all standing at the edge of a pool and everyone knows the water is cold. Its really hot outside but you know its gonna be a shock… you can agree to count to three and jump, but when you look around most of the people are standing there giggling like a bunch of bitches and pointing at the fools who jumped. but on a long enough timeline everyone jumps.

  18. Go to US Patent & Trademark Office website. All public patent applications (published applications and granted patents) are in searchable database called PAIR. I used to work in intellectual property law.
    Link on the Left side, “Patents.” Dropdown and look for link, “View in PAIR.” New window opens. Scroll down and look for “Public Pair.” Once you open the window to the do the search, just put in the application number or patent number. It’ll pull up bibliographical data on the case and maybe the office action objections and arguements/amendments that occurred throughout the application process.
    It’s interesting….

  19. You cannot patent a plant. You can patent a synthesizable molecule, though. So the government could sue you for patent infringement if you synthesize and sell the cannabinoids, but not if you grow the plant in your garden. if you could patent a plant, all of our rose-and -lilac- growing grandmas’ would have been sued long ago.

  20. Norml, create a direct email link to our congressional leaders with a wake-up call to those who represent us (supposedly) and make them aware. I have found out that our elected officials know little or nothing about the truth of marijuana….this would be a wonderful way to make them aware.

  21. legalize for the freedom of our good citizens that choose to smoke. some drink,some smoke! let freedom ring!!

  22. Dont forget … while US government labs were obviously researching the use of MJ chemicals, they had also gone as far as to outlaw institutional research of the very same things!

  23. James Page Says:
    July 4th, 2008 at 4:17 am
    It’s really time to over throw our government. Round them all up and shoot them point blank in the face.
    James it’s obvious to me that you DON’T smoke pot. Now rounding them up, putting them all in an air tight room and filling it with high quality pot smoke….. that’s the ticket. I’m certain they would come out saying “OOOOHHHH now we understand…… Where’s the snack machine? Oh man this thing doesn’t take dollars? Crap I don’t have any change! Yo dude can ya make change for a friend?” (Friend) How cool would that be? A lot cooler than staring at their lifeless bodies with bloody messes where their face used to be.?

  24. I truly believe if this is not handled in the right manner we are all screwed. I’m not a paranoid wierdo, I’m a realist. If THEY want to patent something …. you better believe THEY can and will.
    (Scenario) The powers that be start manufacturing, packaging and distributing pot. They will let you buy THEIR product and smoke all you want any time you want.
    Now let’s see, that makes it a profitable business.
    Do you think they are going to let us grow, cultivate and enjoy it as we have in the past while they are trying to get a business off the ground? Why Hell no they won’t! Why would they spend money manufacturing, packaging and distributing pot when we can just continue to grow our own or cop from a friend like we always have? Because we won’t be able to do that. They won’t let us. The chances are good that the laws against pot will be more strict than they are now. “Their” price will soar and I’m sure their quality will drop. We will be forced to take what they give and like it. “THEY” will decide what kind of pot we should smoke. They will decide what additives should be included. I can see the DEA increasing their work force and popping the shit out of people like you and I.
    I wouldn’t invest in a business that had a small chance of making a profit. I wouldn’t take on the expense of starting a business that had to compete with bootleggers that have been doing it for many years and are damn good at it. If I were the powers that be I would eliminate the opposition. That would be me and you my friends.
    If our Government takes over and starts selling the stuff we’re all screwed.
    The only way to approach this is with a “personal growth and personal use” scenario.
    Norml…. if I were you I’d drop the whole “selling it over the counter dream” because it will be nothing more than a nightmare.

  25. My concern is I DO NOT TRUST OUR GOVERNMENT! Harry Anslinger figured out the only way to control a weed anyone could grow was through propaganda/brainwashung or behavior modification. The fact that the government wanted and received these pataents, to me, is to give them control of the marijuana/medical marijuana issue. Like Gerry above says, “We will be forced to take what they give us.” But that would be in a pharmacutical form i.e. pill, nasal spray or whatever. To my knowledge one cannot patent a natural reoccurring plant. Imagine if tomato’s, onions, corn and fruits of all kinds were patented. I beleive one can patent a growing process like topsy turvey tomato plants. But you can’t patent tomato’s themselves or what they naturally produce. For example, opium is not patented but drugs derived from it are. Besides if it is true that the patent’s they have do not cover Delta9-THC, which is the naturally reoccurring chemical that gives the user a euphoric reaction that’s…well thats just great, then we still have the plant and its hybreds. The question is what will the legality of smokeable marijuana evolve into? Legalize marijuana in all forms for personal and medical use for responsible adults NOW!!!

  26. I work as a Cannabis physician in Los Angeles and came across this patent a few months ago. The craziness of it also prompted me to post a blog.
    On the other hand, perhaps it does reveal some hidden agenda regarding de-criminalization?
    Allan Frankel

  27. This is my feeling on this patent.
    The goverment has created a monopoly on the medicinal value of cannabis while implementing the dynamics of doublespeak and the tactics of a police state to maintain the grip and monopolize the legality and illegality of either constraints.
    The goverment is simutaneously holding two contradictory themes and beleiving & profiting from them both.(classic double speak)
    The system will create as many income streams in which expansion of the goverment bureaucracy is created from both ends of the spectrum.
    Everytime someone is arrested for cultivation,distributing,& poessesion it justifies the criminal actions of the goverment to protect thier patent by either criminal prosecution or civil actions when in fact to make something criminal that is not a crime in the first place is the real criminal act.
    A true dichotomy of hypocrisy.

  28. I’ve only been studying this issue for about 4 months now and am ASTOUNDED at the hypocrisy of our federal government. They already know the medical benefits and yet battle to keep the draconian laws intact. It is so much about money and power. With 1 in 32 Americans incarcerated and 1 million people a year arrested for possession of a plant(s), we have become the most blatantly hypocritical nation on earth.
    There is currently a petition on, the Obama website. I signed it and encourage everyone to sign it as well. Here is the link.
    May the good lord above smile upon our efforts.

  29. After a little more reflection on this subject…
    How many of you just realized that what this actually means is that, since 1999, the government has known that cannabis DOES have medical uses, and has COMITTED PERJERY IN EVERY PROSECUTION SINCE THAT TIME, by virtue of seying something which they know now to be true?
    Remember, folks…they say one thing in court “Cannabis has no accepted medical use, therefore, it must remain a schedule 1 dangerous drug” and they say completely the opposite in their DIRECTLY CONTRADICTORY MEDICAL PATENT FILING!
    The government, it seems, is above the law in that it can file patents for natural compounds, and it can say one thing in one instance and something completely different in another, yet not suffer contempt of court for PERJURY!
    If I’m not mistaken, it is also against the law to patent ANY NATURAL COMPOUND, since those compounds were not designed by man, and simply can not be patented!!! (Patent attorneys should look into this line of reasoning to be certain…AND QUICKLY!)
    The cannabis facts are out there, and stretch far beyond the mere plant which many have concentrated on. This issue reaches into basic human rights, politics, finance, economics, and far, far more and interrelated issues!
    The ONLY thing that can be done which could be considered as justice for the men and women of this planet is not “decriminalization” as that would simply keep cannabis illegal, but allow you the “priviledge” of consuming a natural plant–until and unless such “priviledges are later removed again by your masters” without your consent. Again.
    Re-Legalization is also not a good idea, since it would still leave precedents on the books for future recriminalization.
    Full and complete LEGALIZATION of cannabis can only be accomplished by completely removing all laws which (are believed to) affect individual men and women.
    I have only recently become aware of how tremendously huge this issues really is, and how many facets of the world we live in will be affected once people start to wake up to the true facts surrounding this entire criminal fraud which created the global “drug wars.”

  30. So if this is true, then cant i get a patent on dirt. Then the Government can pay me to grow on this chunk of land! And while I am at it I am going to patent the effects of air. With out air you cannot breath so it deffintaly has medical uses and i shall patent that too. I want to patent people too, shit I sound like the government…lol

  31. Pertaining to the comments that you “cannot patent a plant”
    Plants can be patented! I know. I sell patented plants and have a plant patent pending.
    What all this means is that until the year 2020, the Government has the exclusive right including licensing and franchising discretion as to the “labeled use” of cannabinoids for the patent award. This patent pertains to the chemical compound and its use not the plant species itself. The ramification of this is that since the FDA would regulate labeling for any use of the cannabinoid compound, you can bet they will not allow any labeled use other than that which the government has awarded itself. Because Cannabis Sativa is a common plant that by default cannot be attributed to any one person having discovered or bred, the Government cannot patent the plant. If someone were to breed a Cannabis Sativa variety that was genetically distinguishable enough under patent law criteria then, that plant could be patented but, you could not sell it for the purpose listed on the patent that the Government has granted itself. That is why they did things that way. They will, until 2020, ultimately retain control over the sales over it, decide who they license it to and collect a licensing fee (not a tax, that is different).
    Is Big Pharm behind this? Does the Holy C defecate in an arborial setting?

  32. OK,well then,does this mean I can go out and patent minerals in sea weed just because they are supposed to be good for the skin?I thought seed bearing naturally occurring plants were not to be patented ..IF this was the case how come every plant on the planet isn’t patented ?

  33. Well I think it confusing that a government would want to hold a patent on a cancer eliminator and for what reason do they forbid us this wonder cure plant?to keep people from using it freely,to cure their cancer?Perhaps medical patients will have to claim they are using it because it gets them high and not because it cures their cancer or eases their pain?I say we keep any one from having a patent on a natural plant or any use of it..other wise people will patent all the oak trees and all the grass and all the sea weed …and all the stuff thats in them then all the uses of it too.OMG and to think I just made a tire swing using a rope and a(flat tire with a use patent on it) Did I break a law?Isn’t life like a tire swing or is this only in children’s books and fairy tails?

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