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FOCUS: Medicinal cannabis and Intellectual Property

FOCUS: Medicinal cannabis and Intellectual Property

Tuesday 11 January 2022

FOCUS: Medicinal cannabis and Intellectual Property

Tuesday 11 January 2022


Exports aren't the only opportunity arising from growing medicinal cannabis - Jersey could also cash in by cultivating a culture of cannabis creators and innovators, and encouraging them to patent their work.

This wouldn't only be a benefit to the producers, but also to the island's legal community, experts say.

Fitting alongside this could also be a burgeoning and beneficial research community, if Jersey makes moves to buddy up with other institutions.

Such additional benefits from cultivating a medicinal cannabis industry were highlighted in a report published last week by the Economic and International Affairs Panel, a group of politicians tasked with reviewing the growth of the sector.

They concluded that medicinal cannabis is a huge - and potentially very lucrative - opportunity for the island, but that current weak regulation is threatening it.

So far, Express has delved into how much money the industry could make Jersey and whether estimates are reliable, and the regulatory holes that need fixing to ensure the sector flourishes internationally, rather than flounders.

Today, we look at a completely different type of opportunity arising, in the legal world of IP...

The two key compounds

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Pictured: The Government's primary aim is to create pharmaceutical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) - a compound secreted by the grands of the marijuana plant, which can be used medicinally to relieve symptoms of pain, nausea and anxiety.

New varieties, strains and scientific developments in the cultivation of medicinal cannabis plants can be protected, either through patents or through plant breeder’s rights.

The Government has been clear that its primary aim in getting the industry set up is creating pharmaceutical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) - a compound secreted by the grands of the marijuana plant, which can be used medicinally to relieve symptoms of pain, nausea and anxiety.

However, the medicinal cannabis market is vast - and the other area attracting an increasingly large global presence is CBD (cannabidiol), which is being used in creams, as an additive to food and drink and other applications. It can also be used in a medicinal capacity to relieve the symptoms of seizures and inflammation among other mental health conditions.

Group Director of Economy Dan Houseago was clear that, while THC was the focus for now, the Government was already eyeing up opportunities with CBD.

“…In the UK, the value of sales in this space is nearly £700m just last year alone," he explained.

"So what we are trying to do is to say, right, okay, what does the framework look like just for now, and we are starting with medicinal cannabis as the gateway or what I would describe as the gateway industry, but these organisations that are growing in the island will, I think, have a weather eye on the opening up of the CBD market for non-medicinal uses, which as I say will be ubiquitous and massive.

"Does Jersey want a slice of that? It ought to, in my view as an economic development adviser."

The value of IP

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Pictured: Experts told the Panel there could also be an opportunity for Jersey to promote the IP protection of new strains and methods of cannabis production.

With these ambitions in mind, experts told the Panel that there could also be an opportunity for Jersey to promote the IP protection of new strains and methods of cannabis production.

“The creation of IP is necessary in order to ensure a sustainable growth and future for the sector in Jersey,” they said.

"Once the ecosystem starts to grow, it is likely that producers would demand intellectual property protection especially on new strains and possibly on new methods of production.”

Research

The advisers also identified opportunities in the research side of the cannabis industry.

They argued that Jersey could explore cultivation activities and should seek research partners such as hospitals, universities and clinical research organisations.

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Pictured: Experts say the island should seek to partner with universities and hospitals for research.

Another area linked to the research side of the medicinal cannabis industry was around clinical trials management.

The Panel’s advisers pointed out that supporting research leading to further developments in medicinal cannabis "could be extremely beneficial and collaboration with UK hospitals could provide opportunities in this area."

An opportunity for law firms

Potential commercial opportunities could also arise for local law firms.

“The cannabis sector can provide an interesting niche for the legal profession as it is likely that operators will seek to protect their interests on the development of new production processes or new seeds," said the advisers.

"Some law firms can obtain knowledge including technical knowledge to be able to provide such services.”

Economic IP incentives

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Pictured: The Panel recommended incentives for patent and Intellectual Property protection.

As a result, the Panel recommended that the Council of Ministers consider a “range of possible incentives for on-island medicinal cannabis growers, to apply for patent and Intellectual Property protection”.

Such incentives could include "fiscal benefits on chargeable income generated from such patents."

Discussions underway

Further discussions on the future registration of cannabis IP are already underway. 

Jersey's Head of Biosecurity has been in contact with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, and "asked them for an advisory report back from the highest level as to how the future of the registration of high THC cannabis might operate and also asking some questions about what the commercial opportunities for Jersey may be within that space."

READ MORE...

FOCUS: How much money could Jersey make from medicinal cannabis?

FOCUS: A blossoming $600m opportunity at risk

Politicians “extremely concerned” by lack of medicinal cannabis regulation

INSIGHT: Cultivating a medicinal cannabis industry

Jersey issues first medicinal cannabis growing permissions

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