It’s high time we protected our cannabis trade marks – Lexology

It has been a big year for cannabinoids in New Zealand.

From 1 April 2020, New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis scheme was launched. New Zealand now allows specifically licensed doctors to prescribe cannabinoid products to patients. Coupled with these prescriptions, manufacturers can legally produce the medication locally—in theory at least. The Medicinal Cannabis Agency, doctors and manufacturers are still working through minimum quality requirements, licensing, import and export.

And of course, we recently voted by the narrowest of margins NOT to legalise recreational cannabis.

Some big changes, some incremental steps, and all of them impact manufacturers and service providers’ intellectual property strategies.

Why ‘cannabinoid’ and not ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana’?

This is a technical issue, rather than a legal one. It comes down to what’s in each product. Cannabinoids are the compounds found in the cannabis plant. They’re what make the medication work, or give the recreational user their high. And there are lots of them—currently 144 known varieties.

Cannabis is the plant. Marijuana is disparaging jargon for a particular type of cannabis plant.

When talking about medicinal products, it’s the cannabinoids that we are interested in and how strong those cannabinoids are.

And hemp? Hemp causes confusion because people and governments around the world aren’t too sure how it connects with cannabis. Hemp is one variety of the cannabis plant. It is used for its fibre more than anything. The level of cannabinoids in it are minimal.

How do the law changes affect your trade marks?

The global medicinal cannabinoid market is a multi-billion dollar industry. New Zealand manufacturers