The patent I’m covering today is one of the strangest I’ve come across in the industry so far. Canopy Growth has been granted a US patent for printing cannabinoids and/or terpenes using an inkjet printer. You read that correctly, they have patented loading molecules from cannabis into an inkjet printer cartridge and printing them onto different things for consumption.
Starting with the abstract:
“This disclosure relates to new printable cannabinoid and terpene compositions, and method for making and using the same. Inkjet printer technology is used to dose precise amounts of purified cannabinoids such that a user may select the type of effect desired and in the amount they want. Various methods include inhaling and ingesting through the use of different substrates.”
This patent is relatively easy to understand, an inkjet printer dispenses specific quantities of ink onto paper, why can’t it do the same with cannabinoids and other molecules? The examples provided in the patent include dispensing measured quantities of cannabinoids and terpenes onto paper, separating the paper into doses, then consuming the doses. You can think of this as similar to how LSD is dispensed and sold on sheets of stamps then broken off into doses. Another example the patent outlines is printing molecules from cannabis onto sintered glass so the molecules can be vaped.
I believe the patent is intended to protect inkjet cartridges that a consumer would purchase and use at home on their inkjet printer. I don’t believe this is intended to be a commercial production system because there are many alternative methods to dispersing cannabinoids and terpenes on paper or sintered glass. There are several potential issues Canopy may run into if they try and capitalize on the technology outlined in this patent.
The first issue is that Canopy would be selling printer cartridges containing concentrated cannabinoids to the consumer, the patent stipulates >60% purity. Regulations would have to allow for the sale of highly concentrated cannabinoids direct to the consumer for the creation by the consumer of individually dosed products. The patent is granted in the USA so it’s difficult to predict the future regulatory landscape and evaluate if this will be allowed within the life of the patent (expires 2036). Another issue that may or may not impact the patent going forward is the calculations in their examples don’t add up:
To prepare a bulk standard of ink, purified THC, purified linalool, glycerin, ethanol, polyvinylpyrrolidone, and water are combined.
Purified THC was used at ≥50% purity as determined by HPLC.
Purified linalool was used at ≥60% purity as determined by HPLC.
70 mL of purified THC and 3.0 mL of purified linalool are combined with 7.0 mL of glycerin, 20 mL of ethanol, and 100 mg of polyvinylpyrrolidone to make an ink composition comprising of 70% THC by weight and 3% linalool by weight.”
If you have a solution that’s ≥50% THC and add 70 mL of that to a solution with a final volume of 100 mL, that doesn’t mean the final solution is 70% of THC by weight. Let’s do a bit of math to see what it actually is (I will assume it’s 50% THC since in other examples they provide ≥60% THC).
We have to start with the conversion formula:
Weight percent (w/v) = [mass of solute (g)/ volume of solution (ml)] x 100, or
Volume percent (v/v) = [volume of solute (ml)/ volume of solution (ml)] x 100
As you can see, the conversion from percentages are the same, which you use depends on how the final solution is represented. Since Canopy stipulates by weight, that’s what we’re going to use.
50% = [mass of solute (g)/ 70 mL] x 100
Mass of solute = 35g of THC
There would be 35g of THC in the final solution of 100mL, which is 35% THC by weight, not the reported 70% of THC by weight the patent outlines in their examples. If you look at other examples, you’ll see that regardless of the concentration of the starting solution of cannabinoid and the consistent volume being added to the final solution, the final concentration is always 70% of the cannabinoid by weight.
Any trained chemist or biologist should have caught the errors in basic conversion being presented in this patent. Their examples are presented as if a scientist has conducted experiments to create these solutions, but the errors in calculations are so egregious, I can’t comprehend how they could have done so and presented their findings with so many errors.
In summary, the patent is specific in what it’s protecting, the use of inkjet printers to create individual doses of cannabinoids. It does so in a way that is questionable if they actually conducted the experiments, or if this is a theoretical idea they came up with and decided to patent. The potential use of the technology in the USA is dependent on future regulations that must come into effect before the life of the patent expires.
The preceding is the opinion of the author, and is in no way intended to be a recommendation to buy or sell any security or derivative. The author holds no position in Canopy Growth.