A first(!): Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (“CWB Holdings”), operated by the famed Stanley brothers, has secured the first-ever patent for a hemp cultivar in the United States. CWB Holdings is now the proud owner of a plant patent for “a new and distinct hemp cultivar designated as ‘CW2A.’” Patent documents describe CW2A as a hardy plant, resistant to cold, and capable of producing up to 6.24% CBD and only 0.27% THC (which is below the 0.3% threshold that separates hemp (legal) from marijuana (illegal) under the current federal scheme created by the Controlled Substances Act). The patent was granted on July 2, 2019 to the patent’s listed inventor, Co-Founder and Chairman of CWB Holdings, Joel Stanley.
It appears that CWB Holdings filed for the CW2A patent in May 2018, about half a year before the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law by President Trump this past December. Because the patent is for a hemp cultivar within the threshold, CW2A will be legal to grow under the 2018 Farm Bill.
A plant patent is an intellectual property right that protects the key characteristics of a new and unique plant from being copied, sold, or used by others. A plant patent, as opposed to the broader utility patent, is only good for legal protection against a competitor growing the same cultivar from a clone. Despite its pretty narrow teeth, this is still groundbreaking news as it’s the very first plant patent for a cultivar of hemp issued in the United States. And, if the patent’s description of CW2A is correct, the plant would be ideal to curb the challenge that hemp farmers face of ensuring that the hemp crop doesn’t rise above that 0.3% THC threshold (or as industry-insiders say, “get hot”). To explain: typically, plants originally bred for other hemp products (seed, oil, fiber) is usually what is sourced for CBD products. These plants already yield about 0.3% THC, but you have to use a lot of plants, and cannabis is also great at sucking toxins from the soil. Therefore, a hemp cultivar like CW2A that is supposed to produce twice as much CBD by dry weight is a lot more beneficial to use. That’s why industry insiders seem to agree that CWB Holdings’ newest patent could be the start of its capturing a commanding share of the growing CBD market.
CEO of SIVA Enterprises and member of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Cannabis Advisory Committee, Avis Bulbulyan, stated, “A lot of brands out there have catchy logos and catchy names, but the product inside is generic. There’s nothing proprietary about it.” In contrast, what CWB Holdings has secured is “huge” and “something tangible.”
It’s also entirely possible that we will learn of other patent filings soon. Utility patents, which cover seeds as well as complex chemical compositions, do not become publicly available under about eighteen months after their filing date. If CWB Holdings had filed for a utility patent around the same timeframe, that information won’t be public for a little while longer. We’ll be sure to check in and report back if it CWB Holdings is able to secure another win for its intellectual property portfolio.