415.398.3141 iplaw@evoke.law

Guest Blog: Cannabis Regulation in Mexico. Is it really happening?

By: Carlos Allan Malacara & Felipe Gutierrez Serrano, Panamericana de Patentes y Marcas More than two years have passed since Mexico took the first step in the regulation on the use of cannabis, amending important provisions in the General Health Law and the Federal Criminal Code. This was a pivotal moment and a shift from a prohibitionist system, to a model where effective cannabis regulation could be developed. Such significant changes in the federal laws still required a clear regulatory framework for implementation. Since June 2017, the Ministry of Health was instructed to design and execute public policies aimed at regulating the medicinal use of cannabis, within six months. Attempts have been made, but all have failed, to adequately regulate the use and rules for commercialization of cannabis for medical and scientific research purposes. For instance, in November 2017, Mexico’s Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris) approved the Regulations of the General Health Law involving Health Control of Cannabis and its Derivatives, which were never published and hence did not enter into force.  In October 2018, Cofepris issued Guidelines involving Health Control of Cannabis and its Derivatives, which were in force for a short period of time. However, these guidelines were flawed as they did not follow the legal protocols upon issuance and contravened several other legal bodies so they were finally revoked in March 2019. At the legislative level, eight different bill proposals are currently being discussed in Congress. The initiative presented by the Interior Minister in November 2018, has been well received by many as it balances free market principles but also considers public health concerns...

Hemp/Cannabis/CBD Trademarks: An Interview With Evoke Law’s Mary Shapiro and Nicole Syzdek

Originally posted by Corsearch Establishing Hemp/Cannabis/CBD brands starts with proper trademark research and clearance. As the cannabis industry continues to grow nationally, cannabis operators, whether manufacturers, cultivators, retailers, distributors, etc., have increasing ability to secure trademark protection. In order to avail themselves of such protection, businesses will need to ensure that their brand is: available, registrable, and enforceable. Further, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the domestic cultivation of hemp, as well as production of hemp-derived CBD products (with some exceptions), which industry experts agree will lead to an explosion of new brands in the marketplace. Over the last two years, Corsearch has developed a new Cannabis Industry Search designed for the unique nuances and considerations in the cannabis industry. Corsearch Account Manager Alyssa Christensen recently asked industry experts Mary Shapiro and Nicole Syzdek at Evoke Law to discuss the current cannabis product marketplace and the importance of and challenges associated with proper clearance for marks.  Even though Cannabis and CBD marks are not allowed to be federally registered, can you discuss why you think it is important to clear your client’s possible trademark? Actually, you can register cannabis marks federally. While you cannot register marks for marijuana or marijuana-derived products (meaning, where the THC content is over 0.3%), you can register marks for ancillary services, such as; providing information about cannabis online, offering educational services, and providing advocacy services for legalizing cannabis. However, for hemp-derived cannabis and products (meaning, where the THC content is less than 0.3%), you can register marks for actual cannabis products, including; flower, concentrates, topicals, and more (but not ingestible products such as edibles, tinctures, sublinguals, and supplements, as these violate the Food, Drug, and...

BREAKING NEWS: U.S. Trademark Office Issues Guidance on Applications for Hemp and CBD Products

In the wake of the 2018 Farm Bill, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Trademark Office) issued an Examination Guide regarding the prosecution of applications covering hemp derived goods and services. The great news is that there is a pathway to federally registering brand names for hemp-based cannabinoid products, though there are some caveats and restrictions that we discuss below. Despite this significant advance, applications for hemp-derived cannabinoid products applied-for prior to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill face some challenges. First, a recap of what remains the same: The Trademark Office reiterated that registrations will not issue for goods and services that are derived from “marijuana,” as defined under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), because marijuana remains federally unlawful. This also includes “paraphernalia” that is primarily intended for use in manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing marijuana. Keep in mind that CBD may be derived from either marijuana (as defined under the CSA) or hemp (as defined by the 2018 Farm Bill). Under the 2018 Farm Bill, many hemp products are now federally lawful, so long as the products comes from any part of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. However, federal registration is not available for all hemp products: United Sates Department of Agriculture (USDA) Controls Domestic Production: While the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp goods potentially lawful if they are derived from “hemp” (i.e., contain less than 0.3% THC), to date, the USDA has not promulgated regulations, created its own hemp-production plan, or approved any state or...

2018 Farm Bill: Registering Trademarks & Distribution of Hemp Products

On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (“2018 Farm Bill”), which marked a monumental shift in federal policy towards cannabis. So, what changed? Significantly, the 2018 Farm Bill defines “hemp” as the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, any parts of the cannabis plant, and all derivatives therefrom, having a THC concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis, and removes “hemp” from the CSA’s definition of marijuana. Meaning, hemp (and all that is derived from hemp) is no longer a controlled substance under the CSA. That is, all hemp with a THC content of less than 0.3% is lawful—whether sourced internationally or grown pursuant to the 2014 Farm Bill. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill expressly clarifies that commercialization and interstate transportation, as well as import and export, of hemp-derived products is federally lawful. However, the implementation date of certain aspects of the 2018 Farm Bill is unclear. While this is a huge win for the cannabis industry, the 2018 Farm Bill does not legalize all hemp-derived products everywhere in the U.S. What is still federally unlawful? Even if the CBD comes from hemp, the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act (enforced by the FDA) prevents the sale of products containing CBD that are for ingestion, unless they have undergone the FDA’s drug approval process. The FDA’s limitation applies specifically to ingestible products, e.g., supplements, oral sprays, edibles, and tinctures. Meaning, CBD-infused topicals and vape products appear to be in the clear (at least, for now). Additionally, the FDA has and will continue to enforce against companies selling CBD products that claim...

Guest Blog: The “Green Rush” to Register Cannabis Trademarks in Canada

Guest authors John H. Simpson & Shan Arora of Shift Law discuss the current landscape of cannabis trademark applications in Canada. On October 17, 2018, the sale of recreational cannabis became legal in Canada and the “green rush” to profit from the industry is on. For many months, industry players have been hurrying to stake claims to market share and to various forms of intellectual property rights in recreational cannabis products and services. However, when it comes to selecting and protecting cannabis-related brand names, in reality, the “green rush” has become a game of hurry up and wait. Currently, there are approximately 2200 trademark applications pending in the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) with claims for cannabis or cannabis-related goods or services that have yet to be examined. This backlog of applications is partly responsible for the increasingly lengthy processing time for Canadian trademark applications. It is now taking more than 12 months for a first examiner’s report on a trademark application and the total time from filing to registration is now about 18-24 months. The vast majority of these applications were filed prior to legalization on the basis of “proposed use,” meaning the applicant has not yet used the mark with the applied-for goods or services as of the filing date. Filing proposed use applications is a wise strategy. During examination at the CanadianTrademark Office, as in the U.S., the first person to file an application has priority over subsequently filed confusingly similar proposed use trademarks. The examination considers all trademark applications for a likelihood of confusion with trademarks in prior-filed applications and registrations. At the outset, the...

CBD Roundup: Updates at the USPTO, Rescheduling, & More

Evoke Law Persuades USPTO to Register Trademark for CBD from Hemp Products Mid-2017, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) started emphatically refusing trademark registration for marks covering products containing CBD from industrial hemp. Previously, it seemed that so long as the applicant confirmed that the CBD was derived from industrial hemp that was internationally sourced and contained no more than 0.3% THC, the USPTO would grant registration. But last year, the USPTO changed its stance and required that the source of the CBD be from only the parts of the plant excluded under the CSA’s definition of “marihuana,” namely the mature stalks and seeds, without commingling with other resinous parts of the cannabis plant. But here’s the catch – the USPTO took the position that there are no commercially appreciable amounts of CBD in mature hemp stalks, and therefore rejected the declaration from the applicant’s supplier of the hemp biomass expressly confirming that the source of the CBD was exclusively derived from the mature stalks without commingling of resin. With the support and assistance of technical advisor, Sanford Wolgel, Phd., and expert testimony from Jake Stout, Phd., Evoke Law provided the USPTO with irrefutable scientific evidence that the mature stalks do indeed produce CBD in appreciable quantities without the commingling from other plant parts, including any ‘resinous’ secretions. And the application is now moving forward to registration. DEA Reschedules (Some) CBD On September 21, 2018, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced that it was rescheduling certain drugs containing cannabidiol (CBD) from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5. This action comes on the heels of the FDA approving the...