Canopy Growth Corporation acquired a patented cannabis extraction technique that GW Pharmaceuticals allegedly infringed. So, two giant players in Canada’s commercial cannabis are now in a head to head legal battle. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas will host this landmark battle.
Greenwich Biosciences is a US subsidiary of GW Pharmaceuticals
Who wrote the patent in 2001?
The 632 patent, as it is known in the industry, was originally published in 2001 in Germany and granted to Delta-9-Pharma in 2014 and Bionorica SE in 2014 and 2015, respectively. GW knowingly infringed Bionorica’s patent to manufacture CBD in its Epidiolex products, according to the lawsuit filed by Canopy. Legal action could not be taken when the patent was in the hands of the herbal medicine outfit in Germany. That changed, however, when the patent was granted to Canopy Growth Corporation in the USA on December 22, 2020. Now, tides shifted into a tone of economic prowess since Canopy is demanding royalties on CBD produced by GW Pharmaceuticals.
Canopy Growth Corporation owns the patent to the synthetic cannabinoid, Dronabinol in the USA as of December, 2020.
Upon Canopy’s full acquisition of the patent in the United States, they immediately filed a suit against GW Pharmaceuticals for this alleged infringement. GW sells the only FDA approved CBD product, Epidiolex, in the US market for approximately $1200 per 100 milliliters for the treatment of epilepsy. In comparison, Canopy Growth Corporation only entered the cannabis patent space in 2015 after founder Chuck Rifici exited the Liberal Party. Whereas, GW Pharmaceuticals has been a dominating figure for two decades with founders Brian Whittle and Geoffrey Guy.
What does the patent cover?
The patent includes many cannabis extraction techniques commonly employed across the industry. Not surprisingly, many other cannabis extraction companies in the USA are now under threat of infringement over any of the following claims.
- The final extract should contain reduced amounts of monoterpene [SIC] and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, alkaloids, flavonoids, and chlorophylls. It is preferably free of the latter three.
- Super and sub-critical CO2 extraction of D9 and D8 THC, THCa, CBD, and CBDa. Cannabinoids are extracted from fiber and drug-producing hemp which includes cannabis below 0.5% THC. Although, the patent does detail drug-producing hemp as any cannabis containing up to 15% D9-THC. Another patent recently slid into Canopy’s reach suggests solvent extraction of cannabis up to 41.2% “tetrahydrocannabinol” [SIC] using hexane.
- The purification of cannabis oil (winterization) with cold ethanol (twenty degrees Celsius.)
- A cannabis extraction technique that is commonly known as CRC oil. Color Remediation Cartridge (CRC) was trademarked by Indofab Solutions for an “apparatus for selectively removing colors and agricultural chemicals from plant extracts.” To reiterate the 632 patent owned by Canopy, the purification of CO2 oil with “terpene and chlorophyll absorbent materials (silica gel, diatomaceous earth, bentonites, bleaching earth, activated carbons, magnesium oxide, and alumina.)”
- The conversion of CBD and D9 THC into D8 THC using halogen salts that contain the metals tin, zinc, iron, or titanium; preferably zinc chloride.
- The addition of solvents, such as ethanol, to enhance CO2 extraction.
Whipped Cream Fraction by Eden Labs
Small cannabis businesses fall under Canopy Growth
The 632 patent also details the manufacture of an expensive synthetic THC, known as dronabinol, described synonymously with Delta-9-THC. Bionorica still holds a patent for THC synthesis in Germany. On December 4, 2020, however, the US patent license to dronabinol was assigned to Spectrum Therapeutics, a medical division of Canopy Growth Corporation.
Canopy acquired C3 (Cannabinoid Compound Company) in 2019. This granted them access to the intellectual property of Bionorica Ethics GMBH’s, or at least patent US10,870,632 and US8895078 detailed in the lawsuit. Canopy Growth Corporation also owns US patent rights for, US20140248379A1, US8895078B2 and US8324408B2.
Bionorica Ethics is a subsidiary of Bionorica SE. They have been making the artificial cannabinoid dronabinol in Germany since 2002, originally under the name Delta-9-Pharma. They were happy for Canopy Growth Corporation to take a leadership role with cannabinoid consistency with the acquisition of C3. It was never stated if Canopy gained consistency through synthetic or natural cannabinoids. Regardless, the rest of the CBD market in the United States is now under threat for the remainder of Canopy Growth’s ownership of the 078 and 632 patent. They will continue to hold the US application for US8895078B2 until 2027.
Let us know what you think about one company owning the rights to cannabis extractions in the comments. Is this lawsuit fair for GW Pharmaceuticals or does it undermine the future survival of small cannabis businesses?