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Group accuses govt of insincerity over cannabis patents

THE CIVIL SECTOR for medical marijuana has raised doubts about the Intellectual Property Department’s (IPD) apparent reluctance to reject cannabis-related patent applications filed by two firms.

In its statement, the group identified these firms as GW Pharma and Otsuka. 
“All seven controversial patent applications related to cannabis are from these two firms,” the group said. 
“It should be noted that these two companies have received visits from Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.” 
The group includes BIOTHAI Foundation, Rangsit University, Thai Traditional Medical Council and FTA Watch. 
The group has also decided to refuse any future meetings with the IPD or the Commerce Ministry because of a perceived lack of sincerity. 
“They are not sincere. The IPD director-general was not at the meeting scheduled with us last Friday. Nor did a single deputy director-general show up,” the group said. 
According to the group, directors of the IPD Laws Office and Patents Division also presented only selective information at the meeting. They cited examples of cannabis-related patent approvals in some countries without mentioning cases of several other countries that have rejected cannabis-related patents, the group said. 
The applications filed by GW Pharma and Otsuka are reportedly related to the use of marijuana in treatments for epilepsy and cancer, among others. Upset with IPD’s actions, the Civil Sector for Medical Marijuana has now vowed to take the issue to court. 
“We will make sure the controversial patent applications are thrown out,” the group said.
Last month, the National Legislative Assembly passed a law that will legalise medical marijuana, as some non-governmental groups began doubting whether the legalisation was rushed for the benefit of some businesses. 
With some firms having already prepared patent applications related to marijuana, it is possible that they may enjoy monopolies of some kind. 
The patent issues therefore have become highly controversial. 

Published : January 17, 2019

By : The Nation