The marijuana industry has been in the dark for a long time, but the years made this industry emerge from the underground. Marijuana, also known by many as cannabis, weed, and pot, is a substance classified as an anti-depressant that induces mind-altering effects. It comes from the plant cannabis sativa.
In today’s era, marijuana has been gaining a lot of attention because of its medicinal significance. Larry Smith has Parkinson’s disease and dyskinesia, which is an abnormality in voluntary movement. A YouTube video featuring Smith showed the positive effects of marijuana just “minutes” after taking it.
Surprisingly, Smith was able to control his body movements and speak properly. Indeed, Smith’s case showed how medicinal marijuana helps in easing the suffering of patients with similar cases. With this, the industry is starting to emerge from the underground.
Legalization of Marijuana
In the United States, a total of 29 states together with the District of Columbia and U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico already legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, is legal in nine states namely, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
Looking at the United States alone, the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes alerts the marijuana industry into securing a place in the market. The decriminalization of marijuana creates a demand in the market. Most people in the U.S. who are suffering from chronic illnesses and disorders are now patronizing medicinal marijuana instead of the products of the pharmaceutical industry.
Marijuana: More than Just Leaves
Commonly, inducing marijuana is done through inhaling smoke from the burning leaves. This is the common way of using unprocessed cannabis especially for recreational uses. However, there are more types of cannabis products out in the market today – processed marijuana.
Processed marijuana products are usually for medicinal use. More than that, marijuana processing also reached specific products like soft gels and cold pressed oils. With the emerging possibility of innovatively fusing marijuana with ordinary and everyday items, this possibility creates a threat to the business of marijuana.
The Rise of a New Industry
With this increase in expected demand, more companies will look into investing in the marijuana industry, not to mention those who have been in the business ever since. With its legalization for recreation in nine states and medicinal use in 29 states, it creates competition among cannabis-selling companies as well as the pharmaceutical companies.
Since marijuana is now being processed as medicine and everyday products, competition starts to boil in the marijuana-selling arena. True is what they say that marijuana will someday become like liquor, tobacco, and even prescription drugs. One day, marijuana can be accessed in a convenience store or at the grocery if business moguls will continuously invest in the marijuana industry.
With this possibility, innovation starts to kick in marijuana-processing companies. These companies will begin to create more products contain marijuana, which will eventually lead to infusing marijuana in daily-use products such as ointments for a skin rash.
Intellectual Property Issues
The rise of this new industry can somehow involve trademarking and patenting processed marijuana products. Without patents and trademarks, the companies are at risk of being copied. Now, the question lies with the law. Should processed marijuana be given a chance in patent laws and trademark laws in the United States and other countries?
Previously, marijuana’s criminalized status hindered it from having the right to apply for a patent or trademark to secure and to protect the intellectual property of the company selling it. Companies involved in the marijuana industry would want to protect their brands through patents and trademarks as much as how other companies protect their brands.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) oversees the application of trademarks and patents. However, USPTO has denied all applications coming from the marijuana industry due to the Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits “manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing marijuana and marijuana-based products.”
A prerequisite in applying for a trademark or patent in the USPTO is whether this product will be fairly and appropriately used. But, there are a lot of gray in that matter. As per the reports, there is no assurance that the product will be used accordingly, especially once the product has been patented or trademarked.
Patenting and trademarking marijuana will only plant more lawsuits in the future. From crimes caused by drug abuse to infringement, the marijuana industry will suffer from this. If patenting or trademarking has been allowed, some companies may trademark a certain species of marijuana plant to monopolize the market.
This instance will create a tremor since patents should protect something that does not yet exist, or in other words, something that is original per se.
Issues are still ongoing whether marijuana and marijuana-based products can be intellectually protected or not. The U.S. government is still on the verge of figuring out if patenting or trademarking is the next step for marijuana’s freedom, especially today that marijuana is proven to be an effective cure to chronic illnesses including cancer. Regardless, the marijuana industry is slowly emerging from the darkness and will eventually enter the bright market.