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China is cornering the cannabis patent market

By Heather Timmons
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

More than half of the over 600 cannabis-related patents registered with the United Nations’ global intellectual property agency belong to Chinese companies, which have claimed rights to everything from traditional Chinese medicine-related marijuana tinctures to new methods of administering the drug, like a film that sticks to the skin.

The UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization collects patents from 186 member states that are globally enforceable and organizes them in a searchable database called Patentscope, which shows Chinese cannabis patents including a “Shangxia beverage for relaxing bowels” (and preparation method thereof), a preparation for “assisting in therapy of shivering and sweating” and broader applications like methods of extracting cannabinoids from plants.

Chinese medicine has relied on cannabis and hemp extracts for thousands of years. According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency Museum: “The oldest known written record on cannabis use comes from the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2727 B.C.”  Patenting this knowledge is a much more recent thing—filings from China jumped in recent years, and the country is now filing the most patents of any country in the world via WIPO, beating the US and Japan, a distant third.

Still, there is plenty of room left for other, creative, patent-hungry investors interested in the world’s growing cannabis market. Ulrich Thomet, a Canadian, has received a patent for this novel “method of producing a preparation containing active substances from cannabis:”

Milk and milk products are produced having a cannabis content. These products are generated in that milk cows are fed at least partially with hemp plant parts, in particular blossom material of pistillate hemp plants, these hemp plant parts being administered as silage fodder, dried fodder or fresh fodder mixed with usual cattle feed.

Coming soon, perhaps to Colorado: Green milk.

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