Marijuana transdermal patches formulated by Colorado-based Mary's Medicinals. (Provided by Mary's Medicinals)

Mary’s Medicinals secures patent for transdermal marijuana gel

When Snoop Dogg coined the phrase “sticky icky icky,” he couldn’t have imagined that cannabis ingestion would evolve into weed patches and gels.

The topical technology took a step forward as Colorado-based Mary’s Medicinals received a Notice of Allowance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for their cannabis-infused gel, used in the company’s Mary’s Medicinals Transdermal Pen.

In a nascent industry, patents such as these are quite rare, the company’s executives say.

“The PTO has only granted an extremely limited number of cannabis-related patents – almost exclusively to major international pharmaceutical corporations, research institutions and the federal government,” Mary’s Medicinals founder Nicole Smith said in press materials. “As a small startup company, securing this protection for our intellectual property and the recognition of the uniqueness of our offerings will bolster our continued leadership in this rapidly growing industry.”

Smith’s offerings are among the most diverse in the sector, focused on a wide variety of cannabinoids and delivery methods, including the now-patented gel. The transdermal patches, which are currently patent pending, are 2-inch squares and can be worn under clothing, aimed at consumers looking for a discreet method of uptake.

In general, products that offer transdermal drug delivery are touted for their ability to provide the controlled release of medication, an area where other forms of cannabis (edibles included) can be seen as lacking.

Also active in the hemp space through their sister company Mary’s Nutritionals, the business is seeing rapid expansion with its low-THC product offerings in all 50 states. While some competitors have been warned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Mary’s Medicinals director of communications Graham Sorkin says they’ve stayed in the clear by avoiding claims of health benefits.

“Basically, we’re offering a high-quality hemp product,” Sorkin tells me via phone. “If it happens to be beneficial for your condition, great. But we’re not making any claims about it. We’re encouraging people to learn about it.”

Sorkin also touts a recent deal with distributor The Green Pet Shop for their Mary’s Pets CBD Gel Pen, which he calls a “customer favorite.” The concept of medical marijuana for pets isn’t new; A Nevada senator actually introduced a bill in 2015 to cover animals who could benefit from cannabis. Still, the play from Mary’s Nutritionals could be a game-changer.

“(We’re) aiming to get it into some big box retailers: all the PetSmarts and Petcos of the world,” he said.

Updated May 18, 2016 at 11:19 a.m. The following corrected information has been added to this article: Because of a reporter’s error, an earlier version of this article misstated how the transdermal gel is used by Mary’s Medicinals in its products. A different cannabis formulation is used for the company’s transdermal patches.