Like many other Asian states, Korean cannabis laws are far more extreme than Western nations, giving courts the power to sentence pot smokers to death. The country’s Narcotics Control Act currently prohibits all forms of cannabis cultivation and use, including marijuana and hemp, but does allow some limited use of cannabis seeds and fibers for textile production and academic research. This year’s version has a much greater chance of success as the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has announced that they are in full support of the legislation.
The proposed law is very restrictive and would only allow patients to take cannabis-based substances that have been approved by other countries’ drug administrations. Medical cannabis advocates throughout South Korea are already pushing lawmakers to expand the law to allow additional forms of natural cannabis-derived medicine, and the health ministry has agreed to consider advice from doctors and patient advocacy groups on the matter.
Canna-businesses in Canada and Israel are already anticipating that these expansions will be approved, and are preparing a range of products to meet the country’s expected demand.
In the meantime, a growing number of South Koreans have been attempting to import medical cannabis products from other countries on their own, despite the legal risk. “And it’s so easy to buy. You can even buy them from a supermarket or a pharmacy. The current law doesn’t reflect what’s going on outside Korea or help sick people who need medical help.” Customs officials reportedly intercepted 80 attempts to smuggle medical marijuana into the country last year, up from 10 attempts in 2016, illustrating increasing public demand for medical marijuana.