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CA: Local Sellers Of Medical Marijuana See Value In Trademarking Pot Strains And Problems

July 25, 2010

Mercurynews.com / 22 July 2010 / Richard Halstead

Marin County’s doyen of medical marijuana, Lynette Shaw, said she was pleased when she read recently on the Web that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had created a new trademark category for medical marijuana. But the patent office backpedaled last week and eliminated the category, which was established April 1, after an inquiry by the Wall Street Journal.

Shaw, founding director of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax, said the patent office got it right the first time, “because a lot of our medical growers have worked very hard to develop strains that are absolutely reliable for the specific type of illness they were developing the strain for.”

For example, she said, some strains are more effective for treating depression while others are better for suppressing nausea.

“We’re very proud of this,” Shaw said, “and eventually I’d like to be able to offer this type of guaranteed reaction to patients.”

Shaw said her attempts to secure trademarks from the patent office in the late 1990s were summarily rejected. The patent office backtracked on the medical marijuana category because selling pot for any purpose remains a federal crime, even though it is allowed in some states such as California and Colorado.

The patent office is, however, continuing to accept pot-trademark applications. A perusal of the names applied for is like a trip down memory lane to the land of Cheech and Chong, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and High Times magazine. The list of more than 270 applications includes golden oldie marijuana strains such as Maui Waui, Acapulco Gold and Panama Red and newer but well known strains such as Chronic, Albino Rhino and Purple Haze. Vivian Kaufman, who operates the Marin Wellness Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Mill Valley, said she was unaware that the patent office was accepting trademark requests. Kaufman said, however, that such names do influence the purchases of her regular customers.

“Those who have been users know what they need for their ailment,” Kaufman said, “so they come in specifically asking for a strain.”

She said the strains she sells, such as Purple Kush and Trainwreck, are named by growers and often lack any medical connotation.

Steve DeAngelo, executive director of the Harborside Health Center medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, said he has already trademarked the name of his center, outside the marijuana category, and is continuing to seek a second trademark of the name in the medical marijuana category for added protection. He is also seeking a trademark on his center’s logo for use on clothing and other products.

DeAngelo doubts that anyone will ever succeed in trademarking a marijuana strain.

“I don’t think it is technically feasible to trademark a strain of cannabis because as of now there is no objective, scientific method of verifying that any particular patch of cannabis is a particular strain,” DeAngelo said.

DeAngelo said Harborside Health Center conducts laboratory tests on the pot it sells and has found big differences between batches of the same strain. For example, when Harborside tested two batches of Grand Daddy Purple, it discovered that one batch had a 6 percent THC content while the other had 22 percent.

DeAngelo said a well-trained marijuana purchasing agent should be able to identify most of the commonly known strains of cannabis by examining it with a microscope, touching it and smelling it. But purchasing agents never smoke the pot they’re buying to verify its strain, he said.

“After the first test, your judgment would be so warped any subsequent tests would be useless,” DeAngelo said.

The requests for trademarks filed with the patent office also stake out a variety of pot-related goods and services with such names as: the ganjacologist, ganja gourmet, godsmokespot.org, e-toke, planet of the baked, hemp head the “higher” energy drink and weedipedia.

Several of the trademark requests contain the number “420,” a code for pot that according to Steven Hager, editor of High Times, had its origin in Marin County.

Hager told the Associated Press in 2009 that the term originated with a group of friends at San Rafael High School in 1971. The students received a tip about an abandoned marijuana patch and began meeting at 4:20 p.m. to search for it. Long after they abandoned the search they continued to meet at 4:20 p.m. near the campus statue of famed chemist Louis Pasteur to smoke pot.

See original posting: http://http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_15580262?nclick_check=1

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2010 3:06 pm

    According to one report, it would take 800 joints to kill a person—but the cause of death would be carbon monoxide poisoning. http://stonerdiary.wordpress.com

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  1. The 420 Times: This For That « Medical Marijuana Evaluations-Alternative Care Clinics-Southern California

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