By Bill Hemmer
On October 7, 2003, the US Patent office granted a patent to the United States of America represented by the Department of Health and Human Services for Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. This means our government now has patented rights to all the bioactive compounds found in cannabis.
Sort of strange, huh? Why would the US government want to patent pot?
We have all been subjected to the war on drugs since Nixon in the 1970’s and marijuana was put in the same drug class as heroin, cocaine, and LSD. So why would our government find it necessary to patent these bioactive compounds?
Let me see if I can shed some light on this story.
Cannabis is considered one of the first domesticated plant species by man over 10,000 years ago. There are three different species of cannabis. Cannabis Indica is the first species. It contains the highest amount of THC, which is the compound that gets you “high” and is commonly called marijuana.
Cannabis Sativa is the second species. It is commonly called Hemp but can also be called marijuana based on how much THC is present. Different subtypes of this species have progressively lower amounts of THC and progressively higher amounts of another bioactive compound called CBD. CBD is currently a bioactive compound with a great deal of medical interest. It has been shown to have many powerful healing properties and it doesn’t get you “high”.
The third species is called Cannabis Ruderalis. It has near zero THC and lower amounts of CBD, so it has not been the focus of much attention. There are 80+ known cannabinoids found in cannabis. THC and CBD are the two cannabinoids that have been studied the most.
In 1992, scientists discovered an entirely new control system in the body called the Endocannabinoid System. Endo is short for Endocrine. Your Endocrine system controls all your hormones and neurotransmitters. Hormones and neurotransmitters controls almost every aspect of your central nervous system.
During the 1990’s and early 2000’s three neuroscientists were very influential within the National Institute of Health. They could see the huge impact cannabinoids would make on mental and physical health in the future. They applied for this patent under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services and got it.
Therefore, it took about 11 years for the United States government to patent potent natural bioactive compounds that would affect this system. The reason this is important is cannabinoids have little or no side effects and have been shown to be extremely safe, even in high doses.
They knew science had not caught up with these discoveries and were betting that when it did, public opinion would change, and people would be looking at these safe, natural healing compounds for their beneficial health effects.
Their bet is starting to pay off 15 years later. Cannabis isn’t just what you saw on Reefer Madness or a Cheech and Chong movie. Over the next few weeks, I’ll further explain some of the risks and benefits of both CBD and THC. Stay tuned!