Some rumours are flying around about the U.S. government’s patent number 6,630,507. Does it give the government exclusive rights to sell weed? Does it revoke cannabis’s status as a Schedule I Controlled Substance?
Some were so outraged by the news of the government-owned marijuana patent that they started a social media campaign of writing the patent number on their hand, taking a picture of that hand, and captioning it, “Talk to the 6630507 Hand.” Not the most current diss in the world, but legitimate. Much of the frustration with the government’s stance toward marijuana likely stems (or seeds) from the DEA’s decision earlier this month to not change an MFing thing about the federal legal status of cannabis.
To clarify, 6,630,507 is not a patent on weed in general, or even medical marijuana in particular. It is only a patent on a certain kind of pot and a specific use that is not very common. Specifically, it covers the use of cannabinoids other than THC to treat brain degeneration and damage caused by illnesses such as cirrhosis, as reported by The Cannabist.
Not only is the patent narrow, it’s also pretty weak. Though patent ‘507 was taken out over a decade ago, the cannabinoid treatment it outlines hasn’t actually been used by anyone yet. And the patent is set to expire in 2019. So, it’s a weed patent that no one has actually used yet and that is likely to expire before anyone figures out how to enact it on a large scale.
So, then what’s the big deal? For starters, it shows some pretty major contradictions in the government’s attitude towards pot. How can the same organization that declares marijuana a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medicinal value, take out a patent on some medical applications of the same drug?
“Naturally, it shows that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy that there is ‘no accepted medical use’ for cannabis according to federal law,” Sam Mendez, an intellectual property and public policy lawyer and executive director of the University of Washington’s Cannabis Law & Policy Project, told The Cannabist. “But,” he added, “there’s no laws against doing so.”
One branch of government lights a joint while the other one stomps out the cherry. Sounds kind of bipolar or two-faced, but Mendez maintained that there’s nothing all that remarkable about the feds’ split personality when it comes to cheeba.
“[The federal government is] a very large organization with hundreds of thousands of federal employees and innumerable number of departments,” he said. “It’s much more complicated than to think about them as a single organism. … The government is allowed to file and obtain patents, and that has no bearing on the Controlled Substances Act.”