Thailand recently became the first Southeast Asian nation to pass a bill that legalizes medical marijuana. The bill has not become official yet as it's still waiting on royal approval, but the progress remains noteworthy considering the heavy penalty that follows cannabis possession in Southeast Asian countries. Before any Thai companies were able to begin preparing for the incoming market, two other foreign companies took advantage of the research possibilities by filing two patents that some have called illegal. A British company and Japanese company both filed patents that Thai pharmaceutical companies fear might create a monopoly on the market that would limit access to medical marijuana product for Thai patients. To protect the incoming market the military government is intending on revoking all pending patents for cannabis.
But in Thailand, the main controversy with the legalization involved patent requests by two foreign firms, British giant GW Pharmaceuticals and Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceutical, filed before the change to the law.