Thai Activists Fight Against Cannabis Patents

As Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly approved legislation in late December to legalize medicinal cannabis use in the country, some established pharmaceutical companies have been quick to try and jump into what they see as another emerging market.

British firm GW Pharmaceuticals and their Japanese partner Otsuka Pharmaceutical recently filed for several cannabis extract patents which were expedited and given a patent-pending status by the Thai Department of Intellectual Property.

But the move has not set well with activists and others who say that it violates Thailand’s Section 9 intellectual property law which prohibits the patenting of plant extracts.

Some applications were for specific medicinal formulations containing cannabinoids.

“But there has been a few of them that actually just patent the substance itself—the substance that’s derived from cannabis like they were trying to patent THC, CBD, THCA, you know all those substances, the active ingredients of cannabis,” Highland Network activist Chokwan Kitty Chopaka told VOA News. “It actually violated the patent policies of Thailand but the fact that the actual application is still pending within the actual patent application process without being cancelled, that’s a big problem that we are having right now.”

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stated that he may step in and cancel the patents personally.