Thailand invalidates all cannabis patents

The cannabis patent dispute has now escalated. The Thai government has issued a decree ordering the Thai DIP to invalidate all cannabis related patents. The military government is allowed to do this under the its special powers. Thailand legalised medical marijuana and kratom applications last year. 

The background is here but in essence an access to medicines lobby type panic has arisen because several pharma companies applied to patent cannabis related inventions. Unfortunately wild misinterpretation of patent rules has led to speculation that usual ogre, MNC big pharma is trying to block local research and prevent Thai medicinal products based on cannabis reaching patients. No one appears to have checked whether the patents are valid or not, instead simply asserting that they must be for natural processes. Nor did the government wait for the DIP’s usual patent examination. 

A frenzy of misreporting and misunderstanding seems to be part of the problem. The 10 or so patents in question ought to be rejected anyway if they don’t comply with Thai law, that is they are not novel uses. But it takes time to examine a patent and the government seems to have accelerated their decision in the face of a media frenzy.  The media does not report if the patents are for valid inventions or not? 

Now the worry is a worse situation will be created by the possible automatic invalidation of possibly good patents, in breach of WTO rules. Whether appeals will be filed is the next step to watch.