Is the U.S. Ready for Medical Marijuana Patents and Trademarks?

July 2010
Earlier this year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office created a new category for medical marijuana, setting off a rush from the 14 states where medical marijuana is legal, including Colorado. Some claimed rights to names like Chronic, and a trademark was filed on psychoactive sodas like Keef Cola and Canna Cola. Then, after a reporter for The Wall Street Journal called to inquire about the new trademark, the office yanked the category from its website. "It was a mistake and we have removed it," a spokesman for the office says. One sticking point is that selling pot remains a federal crime. Still, Scott Ridell, a brand-development consultant for Panatella Brands, a Colorado pot-growing consortium, says clients are "moving forward" in the hope that the patent office will grant trademarks to names such as Mellow Yellow, Chronic, Maui Wowie, and Albino Rhino. Not everyone in the industry is happy about Panatella's efforts, saying trademarking such names would be "outrageous" because the terms have been in common use for years. As that debate goes on, marijuana advocates are happy to see the man in charge of Denver's Drug Enforcement Administration go. Jeffrey D. Sweetin, who was criticized for being too tough on pot in a state that has legalized medical marijuana, has been promoted to run the DEA training center in Virginia, reports The Denver Post. Sweetin is especially unpopular for busting Highlands Ranch marijuana grower Chris Bartkowicz after Bartkowicz showed off his plants to a television news crew.