EDITOR: | January 1st, 2014 | 6 Comments

Chinese poised to control Cannabis market

| January 01, 2014 | 6 Comments

Cannabis patent filings by Chinese researchers on the World‘s Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) makes three points about upcoming changes to the medical paradigm:

  1. Chinese science is advancing rapidly in emerging pharmaceutical sciences
  2. Chinese traditional medicine is being westernized for commercial benefits
  3. Chinese commercial interests are poising themselves to become global providers of cannabis-based medicines.

cannabis-dispensaryThere are 606 patents with the keyword “cannabis” in the front page filed with WIPO, most of which deal with medicinal uses. Medical uses of cannabis are well recognized and firmly established for accredited medical doctors prescribe marijuana for certain, which provides relief to users. However, of the 606 patents 319 patents were from China. Because cannabis acceptance in western medicine is becoming accepted, the predominance of Chinese patents suggests that pharmaceutical sciences are evolving quickly in China, outpacing western capabilities.

Uneven country ownership of intellectual property suggests possible global imbalance, like for example the case of the rare earths industry. Owing to Reagan-era ideological myopia, China controls ninety percent of the rare earths market. While China was planning for the future and planning for rare earths, the West worried the cold war and denying climate change. Contemporaneously, the introduction of economic reforms in 1978 permitted China to become one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies, thanks to a contribution by the rare earth industry.  At the onset of 2014 China is the world’s second-largest economy by both nominal total GDP and purchasing power parity, and is also the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods.

WIPO filings also offer insights into how inventors plan to take advantage of their intellectual property. For example, let’s say you have developed a new medicine based on the use of marijuana. You can file in your own country and then, if granted, your intellectual property is protected for 20 years. Or, if you intent to generate global revenues you can file an application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which offers protection in 148 countries.

More fundamentally, there is a significant difference between the Chinese and the non-Chinese patents, which may change the face of human medicine.   In the Chinese patents cannabis is used in herbal preparations whereas in the western patents emphasises is on the properties of one or more of the 415 cannabinoid terpenes from cannabis. Chinese, holistic approach based on Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM); western, reductionist based on single drug uses.

On the one hand, Aspirin the most indisputable example of western medicine, was first isolated by Felix Hoffmann, a chemist with the German company Bayer in 1897 from the bark of willow trees. On the other hand, CTM draws on at least 4 millennia of traditions, some of which of which are anecdotal. This does not mean that CTM is better or less evidenced based than western medicine. A high percentage of relevant studies on traditional Chinese medicine are in Chinese databases. The problem is the overlapping knowledge between the two systems is not broad enough to support a proper dialogue.Take for example the legal argument that led to acceptance of acupuncture in California.

Miriam Lee (1926 – June 24, 2009) was one of the pioneering acupuncturists in the United States and was an unwitting player in the legalization of acupuncture in California. A Chinese immigrant she was an acupuncturist. But when she arrived in California acupuncture was illegal. So she worked on an assembly line and gave treatments and administered acupuncture out of her home. She was arrested for practicing medicine without a license in 1974. At her trial, her patients filled the courtroom to protest her arrest, claiming their right to the only medicine that had truly helped them. Within a few days, acupuncture was legally made an experimental procedure by then Governor Ronald Reagan. Mao Zedong set the wheels of change have been set in motion.  In 1952 he stated,  “This One Medicine will possess a basis in modern natural sciences, will have absorbed the ancient and the new, the Chinese and the foreign, all medical achievements—and will be China’s New Medicine!”

CTM is poised to take advantage of a growing trend.  In the West natural medicines is a booming business already. A report study shows that that alternative medicine consumption is has much as $34 billion annually in the United States. Patients report natural medicine for health promotion and disease prevention and because it is often “more congruent with their values, beliefs and philosophical orientations towards health and life” or when conventional medicine cannot cure their chronic medical conditions (click here).

The writing is on the wall: westernized Chinese traditional medicine is coming to a dispensary near you.

Dr. Luc Duchesne


Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>

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  • Rick Rosio

    Interesting article ….
    We are developing a full medical treatment / health care delivery model for whole plant cannabis therapy to treat PTSD and war related injuries. This program model Veterans for Compassionate Care http://www.veteransforcompassionatecare.org I would like to share our program model with you for your comment.
    Thank you
    RIck Rosio
    Veterans for Compassionate Care

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  • Luc C Duchesne

    Good luck: What you’re trying to do is much needed. The challenge is to control the hundreds of variables at play so that your results are repeatable. In practice it means you need to control the genetics very tightly and make sure the growing conditions are constant from one batch to the next, otherwise the terpenoid profile may vary and then you are back to square one. Also be aware that there are significant differences between patients…. Experienced growers are familiar with these issues but there is now a need to document them in a replicable way.

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