China holds hundreds of patents relating to cannabis, which means more profits as cannabis legalization spreads globally.

Almost 5,000 years ago, Chinese physicians recommended a tea made from cannabis leaves to treat a wide variety of conditions including gout and malaria. In 2014, as the global market for marijuana experiences an unprecedented boom after being widely legalized, it is China that again appears to have set its eyes on dominating trade in the medicinal plant.

China is well placed to exploit the growing cannabis trade with more than half of the patents relating to or involving cannabis originating in China. According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo), Chinese firms have filed 309 of the 606 patents relating to the drug.

Truth About Cannabis Is Spreading Around the World


In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana in its entirety – from growing the crop to processing and use. It appeares that a second South American country, Peru, could follow Uruguay’s example and legalize cannabis production.

The former director of the Peruvian National Drug Control Commission, Ricardo Soberon, said:

The possibility of removing the criminal element from the cannabis trade – a drug that is a lot less dangerous than others – is the answer to 50 years of repeating the same strategies with no results.

Jamaica announced it was forming its first medical marijuana company, called MediCanja. Henry Lowe, a scientist and executive chairman of MediCanja, said medical cannabis could help “transform Jamaica’s fledgling economy”. He added: “Given Jamaica’s history with ganja, we could be the hub for medical ganja in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Potential for Medical Cannabis is Limitless


Many of the Chinese marijuana patents are for herbal treatments. One, filed by the Yunan Industrial Cannabis Sativa Co, refers to an application made from whole cannabis sativa seeds to make “functional food” designed to improve the human immune system.

Another, by an inventor called Zhang Hongqi, is for a “Chinese medicinal preparation” for treating peptic ulcers. It uses an array of ingredients, including cannabis sativa seed. The filing says it has “significant therapeutic effectiveness and does not cause any adverse effect”.

There is also a patent filing from China for a treatment for constipation, which is made using fructus cannabis and other ingredients such as “immature bitter orange”, Chinese angelica and balloon flower. This, it is claimed, treats constipation’s root causes and symptoms resulting in “obvious curative effects”.

Peter Reynolds, leader of Cannabis Law Reform (Clear), a UK-based campaign group, said China had another advantage over other countries in selling cannabis as it is one of the largest producers in the world of industrial hemp, a form of cannabis with a low amount of the psychoactive compound THC.

As Cannabis is Widely Legalized, China Cashes in on an Unprecedented Boom | The Independent

Photos Provided by Ed Heffelfinger

  • Ed Heffelfinger

    Photos by Ed Heffelfinger