South Korea Legalizes Medical Marijuana

South Korea Legalizes Medical Marijuana

The legislative language will keep tight restrictions on what the medical cannabis program will look like.

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November 28, 2018
Eric Sandy

South Korea legalized medical cannabis this week, laying the foundation for reform in Southeast Asia. The region is presently known for having some of the most oppressive anti-cannabis laws in the world.

The legislative language will keep tight restrictions on what the medical cannabis program will look like.

Patients must receive a recommendation from a physician, and then obtain approval from a government agency called the "Korea Orphan Drug Center." The agency is the gatekeeper for more specialized medicines; earlier this year, South Korea opened the door to allowing patients access to cannabis-based pharmaceutical drugs, like Epidiolex.

According to a translated version of the National Assembly's amendment to the Act on the Management of Narcotic Drugs, lawmakers specifically mention "hemp," or a non-psychoactive form of cannabis. The approved amendment will allow for only the import of hemp products, like hemp-derived CBD oil. 

The amendment was introduced in January by Democratic Party of Korea Representative Shin Chang-hyun. “It is known that cannabis oil is a drug that has been proven to be effective against other drugs, such as narcotics,” he said earlier this year.

Top photo courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Stock