US Government Patents Medical Pot

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 3, 2008

    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.

    61 responses to “US Government Patents Medical Pot”

    1. 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.

    2. Anonymous says:

      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.

    3. Wolf says:

      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.

    4. TomK says:

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

    5. Steve says:

      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,


    6. Adam says:

      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.

    7. Ozlanthos says:

      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!!!


    8. ciregg says:

      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 !!

    9. […] U.S. Government has a patent on medical marijuana. Go […]

    10. lenny says:

      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?

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