Thailand suspends foreign patent applications for marijuana

Posted Jan 28, 2019 by Karen Graham
Thailand’s military government on Monday suspended the licensing of commercial marijuana-based products for medical use amid concern that foreign pharmaceutical companies might try to monopolize the market.
Thailand's National Assembly legalised the use of marijuana and kratom  a traditional herb  for...
Thailand's National Assembly legalised the use of marijuana and kratom, a traditional herb, for research and medical use
Don MacKinnon, AFP/File
It has been one month since the military government of Thailand voted to amend the Narcotic Act of 1979 - in what it called a "New Year's gift to the Thai people," reports Reuters.
But concerns by Thai civil society groups and researchers over the marijuana market being monopolized by foreign pharmaceutical cannabis companies forced the government to suspend patent license requests.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha issued a decree on Monday, reports the Associated Press, ordering the Department of Intellectual Property to revoke all pending patents that involve cannabis or remove marijuana from those patents, within 90 days.
Specifically, those commercial products from marijuana or cannabis extracts with the same molecular structure as the plant are not supported under intellectual property laws.
“The pending patent requests are illegal,” Somchai Sawangkarn, a member of parliament responsible for amending the Narcotic Act told Reuters. “This NCPO order is beneficial for Thai people across the country because it prevents a monopolistic contract,” he said referring to the junta by its official name, the National Council for Peace and Order.
The decree was issued after patent requests by two foreign firms, British giant GW Pharmaceuticals, and Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceutical were filed prior to the December change in the law. These companies will be required to appeal to the Department of Intellectual Property, the government said on its website.
Marijuana is illegal across much of Southeast Asia and traffickers are subject to the death penalty in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.