Denver-based CWB Holdings, Inc., manufacturers of the renowned Charlotte's Web brand of CBD products, received a plant patent for “a new and distinct hemp cultivar designated as ‘CW2A’,” this past July, Leafly reports. The patent documents describe CW2A as a hardy, cold-resistant plant that contains up to 6.24 percent CBD content, and as low as 0.27 percent THC content.
The traditional hemp plants used for CBD cultivation only top out at around 3 percent total CBD. “You have to use a lot of plants to get your oils,” said Martin Lee, cofounder and director of Project CBD, to Leafly. Lee also noted that hemp plants absorb lots of toxins from the soil, which he says is why many CBD products currently on the market are “not very good quality.” By offering more than double the amount of CBD per plant compared to traditional hemp plants, CW2A could help mitigate this issue.
The low THC levels of this plant fall well under the 3 percent THC limit established in the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the cultivation and production of hemp throughout the entire US. In addition to legalizing hemp and its byproducts, this law also legalized the production and sale of low-THC CBD oils. CBD-infused foods and drinks are still technically illegal, but the Food and Drug Administration is currently working to regulate these products.
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CWB Holdings' new patent does not give the company an exclusive right to grow hemp, but does protect their specific strain from being reproduced by other businesses. Patent attorney Andrew Merickel told Leafly that the value of a patent is “not preventing other people from developing their own strain that might have similar characteristics; it’s being able to protect this strain that you’ve developed with the characteristics you want that has an advantage in the marketplace.”
Insiders believe that it is highly likely that CWB has more patents up its sleeve. Public information on utility patents – which apply to chemical compositions, seeds, and other non-plant products – is not available until 18 months after the filing date. If the business filed utility patents alongside the CW2A patent, this information would not yet be available to the public.
“It’s quite possible they applied for a utility patent as well,” San Diego attorney and botanist Dale Hunt explained to Leafly. “Since people think of hemp farming as a seed-based farming strategy, [plant patents aren’t] the best fit. But maybe if you want your genetics to be always exactly the same, then it’s worth going through the cloning process.”
CWB Holdings grew to fame on the popularity of a high-CBD strain of cannabis that they sold through their licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado. The company's owners, the Stanley brothers, developed this strain into a line of CBD oils, named Charlotte's Web after Charlotte Figi, a 5-year-old whose parents used the Stanley brothers' high-CBD hemp to treat their daughter's rare epileptic condition.