Industry Snapshot: Cannabis Plant Patents | Jason nolan


What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants within the family Cannabaceae-a family with about 11 genera. Cannabis and Humulus (hops) are the only genera in the family that contain economically important species.

There are three species in the Cannabis genres: Cannabis sativa (C. sativa), Cannabis indica (C. indica), and Cannabis ruderalis (C. ruderalis), although there is some debate as to whether C. ruderalis is a distinct species or subspecies of C. sativa. The classification of a plant into a species is based on the phenotypes of the plant and the profiles of secondary metabolites. [i]

At least 545 distinct compounds were isolated from cannabis plants. These compounds encompass 20 different classes of chemical compounds including cannabinoids, terpenes, terpenoids, amino acids, nitrogen compounds, simple alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, lactones, acids, acids fats, steroids, non-cannabinoid phenols, pigments, flavonoids, vitamins, proteins, enzymes, glycoproteins and hydrocarbons. [ii] A variety of compounds found in cannabis are biologically active chemicals, called phytochemicals, which are concentrated in a resin found in the plant’s glandular trichomes. Phytochemicals can affect the human body in various ways and, in some cases, treat diseases. The main classes of phytochemicals in a cannabis plant are cannabinoids and terpenes. [iii]

At least 113 different cannabinoids have been isolated from cannabis. [iv] Some of the most studied cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol). Some others include CBG (cannabigerol), THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBGA (cannabigerolic acid), Radio-Canada (cannabichromene), CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin). Most cannabinoids come in two forms: as acids and as neutral (decarboxylated) compounds. [v] Specifically, several cannabinoids exist in acidic form while the plant is alive and growing, and in neutral form after the plant has been dried for human consumption. For example, the main psychoactive and medicinal component of cannabis, THC, is formed by the decarboxylation of THCA during the drying stage after harvest. [vi] Some cannabinoids are formed from the metabolism of other (non-acidic) compounds. For example, CBC and CBD, two of the most important non-psychoactive medicinal compounds in cannabis, result from the metabolism of CBG.

Over 100 different terpenes have been identified from cannabis plants. [vii] The most common terpenes found in cannabis include terpinolene, linalool, -myrcene, citronellol, α-pinene, limonene, α-humulene, β-caryophyllene, β-pinene, borneol, camphene, sabinene, ocimene, α-terpinene, γ-3-carene, L-fenchone, p-cymene, α-phellandrene, α-terpineol, and fenchol. Most very potent cannabis strains contain high amounts of -myrene, -karyophyllene, and linalool, as well as an assortment of other terpenes. [viii]

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