Cannabis Patents: The Virtual Head Shop of the Future

Want to glimpse the cannabis-filled horizon? Search the U.S. Patent Office.

Most people, if they think of the U.S. Patent Office Database at all, likely envision a bland website with a search box or two—which is a pretty accurate image. Or maybe they picture a bunch of silent servers hosting a bazillion files that document every American-made invention since, well, July 31, 1790, which is the date Samuel Hopkins received the first-ever domestic patent for his method of making potash, a fertilizer ingredient.   But I like to think of the U.S. Patent Office Database as the Virtual Head Shop of the Distant Past and the Far Out Future—a place to browse America’s brilliant, bad and bizarre cannabis-related inventions.

Those inventions may drive the future of a burgeoning industry. Experts predict the legal cannabis business will generate $40 billion in revenue by 2021. Not all that money will be driven solely by weed sales, though. A significant portion of it will come from other cannabis-related concepts: new devices, products, processes, foods, and drugs.

With that in mind, I steeled myself from the impulse to look up the Spill-Proof Bongs and Manual Cigarette-Rolling Machines of the past and went down the digital rabbit-hole to see what nifty new inventions and kooky concepts are waiting for their day in the “potlight,” as it were. Here is some of what I found:

Frozen Plant Pops

Green popsicles, cannabis pops
iStock / sveta_zarzamora

A passionate advocate of eating raw cannabis, Jeff Nordahl has patented a process for making non-psychoactive ice pops that boast the therapeutic benefits of the plant. His company’s frozen pops and cubes contain unheated THCa, CBDa and other cannabinoids, which, according to the patent filing, have anti-inflammatory and cancer cell-fighting properties.

“We see the cannabis plant as the perfectly balanced, ready-to-go food. It’s as nutritious as kale, but has all these cannabinoids as a bonus,” says Nordahl, who is based in California’s  Santa Cruz Mountains and sells a variety of cannabis-based wellness products on jadenectarjuice.com.

The inventor became interested in the healing powers for the plant after he discovered eating raw cannabis helped treat the symptoms of his own debilitating bout with Lyme disease. He decided to puree and freeze cannabis plants as a way “to give shelf life to an extremely perishable leaf. We want to deliver it to people in the purest form we can,” he says.

“Obviously getting stoned has its time and place. But a lot of people want to feel well. A mom with arthritis just wants to feel relief and be able to go to a parent-teacher conference and not be stoned out of her mind.”

Freezing the puree becomes, in essence, a delivery system for those in search of anti-inflammatory and pain relief offered by cannabinoids. “We’re just giving the end-user a base material to work with and letting them combine it with, say,  mango for a smoothie. We don’t want to dictate the flavor to them, that’s their call.”

The Canna-booze Conundrum

While California law currently forbids fusing cannabinoids with alcoholic beverages—or rather “cannabis cannot be sold in the same premises as alcoholic beverages” and the California Department of Public Health prohibits the sale of “edible cannabis products as alcoholic beverages’—you can bet some visionaries want to change that. One of them, Lewis Garnett, has a petition on file for his method of  Preparing Cannabis-Infused Alcoholic Beverage.”

Whisky barrels rest along a wall near the sea on the Isle of Islay, Scotland, United Kingdom
IStock / twstipp

Garnett’s infuse-the-booze method— involves optimizing the entire marijuana plant. His process uses the typically discarded cannabis elements—stems, seeds, stalks—to obtain cannabinoids. The process yields three different alcoholic beverages with a cannabis boost: Mareer, Meer and Mariquor.

It starts by grinding down the plant discards and heating them. Eventually, yeast and sugar and flavorings are added and the results are strained through a cheesecloth a number of times. The patent doesn’t indicate what kind of firewater Mariquor tastes like. Of course, given that the application is still pending and there are a slew of legal hurdles, nobody may ever get to sip these concoctions. But here’s hoping Mariquor will taste “smokey.”

A Love Drug

Some really smart person once said, “The high is in the mind of the inhaler.” Actually, it was me, back in high school, riffing on “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I mention this now because a Canadian company has filed a patent that kind of turns my teenaged wisdom on its head. It aims to make the effect of the high predictable—and get you horny.

RISE Life Science Corp, the Canadian company that is investing in cannabis-derived “arousal products,” applied for a patent to harness the psychoactive elements of cannabis to create an aphrodisiac in pill form.

In other words, think Viagra, but for men and women. That’s the goal anyway, according to the patent application, which documents the “formulation, process and delivery methodology that produces an aphrodisiac derived from a specific combination of cannabinoids and terpenoids present in cannabis sativa.”

That is one of the few sentences in the application you don’t need a chemistry degree to understand. Other readable sentences can be found in this fascinating paragraph, an ode to desiring a way to create desire:

“What is desired is an aphrodisiac for both men and women. What is also desired is a way to alleviate the occurrence of erectile dysfunction in men, address low libido issues in women, and create an enhanced shared sexual experience for consenting partners. What is also desired is a medication to enhance sexual performance that has little, if any undesirable side effects. What is also desired is a medication that is enjoyable to consume orally.”

While this new pot popper makes its way to market—it has yet to be approved—RISE Life Science has other “sexual health and well-being supplements “ on the market, including  Kareeza’s Women’s Daily and Men’s Daily oral sprays. Kareeza also manufactures In the Moment, another spay that promotes “mind and body mood elevation.”

Endless Ideas

This, of course, is the tip of the iceberg. I’m not going to delve into the pot safe that matches your fingerprint to open or the herb grinder systems or something called French Inhaling, which I couldn’t explain even if I wanted to. But you can glimpse the future—and catch a whiff of inspiration—on your own by searching out more pot patents and applications at U.S. Patent and Trademark Office right here.

Cannabis Patents: The Virtual Head Shop of the Future was last modified: by
Seth Kaufman

About the author: Seth Kaufman is a New York-based journalist. He published two books this year: Pitino: My Story and Metaphysical Graffiti: Rock's Most Mind-Bending Questions.