Article by Andre Bourque, Forbes
Canada’s legalization of cannabis this year wasn’t met with red-envelope-like celebration by Chinese government officials. The Chinese government has long blamed the maple-blanketed country for its handling of tons of illegal cannabis imports. Those officials have a right to be somewhat perturbed, as roughly 20% of Canada’s total marijuana production ($1.2 billion worth) was sold illegally beyond the country’s borders last year, a good portion believed to be China-bound.
Were it another disconcerted country, it might seem less hypocritical because while China is displeased with Canada for contributing to its cannabis problem, the country itself produces 50% of the world’s supply. China’s crops are largely hemp, and thus the non-psychotropic and fiber-rich variety of cannabis.
Psychology Today traces the Chinese economic uses of cannabis hemp to 10,000 B.C. Chinese farmers know how to farm, cultivate and process cannabis for fabrics, medicine and recreational use. As of 2017, Chinese companies have 309 out of the 606 patents filed around the world that relate to cannabis. So while cannabis remains illegal in the People’s Republic of China, its massive economic potential poses a threat to cannabis interests around the world and particularly in the U.S. market.
China’s growing cannabis influence
The New Zealand Herald reports, “There are no official figures for the amount of the plant China produces each year, but plantations are flourishing — both for commercial and illicit drug use. This growth was in part made possible by government-funded scientists assigned to study the plant’s military uses, including medication and uniform fabric.”
Because of this strategic approach, China holds over 600 patents on cannabis applications. This scares pharmaceutical researchers and manufacturers in the West. An Ottawa-based investor and biochemist, Dr. Luc Duchesne,emphasized in the same report that “because cannabis in Western medicine is becoming accepted, the predominance of Chinese patents suggests that pharmaceutical sciences are evolving quickly in China, outpacing Western capabilities.”