Cannabis – What is being patented?

Marc Döring

The past few years have seen a global trend towards the liberalisation of cannabis policies, with cannabis becoming legalised in numerous countries and US states for recreational and/or medical use.

Cannabis is currently authorised for medicinal use in more than 25 countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. And while recreational use is currently still prohibited in most countries, there are exceptions including Canada and Uruguay, as well as 11 US states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, numerous other US states, and countries such as the Netherlands and Portugal, have adopted a decriminalisation policy, where criminal convictions are removed or reduced. This liberalisation has led to a vast increase in the number of cannabis-related companies, which are estimated to have generated almost $14bn globally in 2018, compared to $3.5bn the previous year.

Although natural cannabis plants themselves are not patentable, patent protection is potentially available for genetically modified cannabis plants and novel isolated genes that produce cannabis active agents, as well as for processing, medical cannabis, food and beverages and cosmetics. To read our full analysis of what is being patented, please find the full article originally published in Intellectual Property Magazine here.

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