Grand premiere in the Far East: South Korea has approved medicinal cannabis
In competition with Thailand and Malaysia, South Korea won their first battle last week by approving the use of cannabis for medical purposes. However, it is a fairly limited format that only includes products containing little THC. Certificates will be granted sparingly.
South Korea produces annually 14 thousand tons of industrial cannabis and is one of the top five manufacturers of hemp fiber alongside the Netherlands, Chile, France and China. Despite its important role as a producer, cannabis remains illegal in the country.
A gennaio 2018 , the Democratic Party of South Korea introduced a bill to allow the use of cannabis. This project was approved this November 23 by the National Assembly of the country which voted in favor of the amendment of the law on the management of narcotics to pave the way for non-psychoactive dosages and supervised medical prescriptions. Medical cannabis will still be tightly restricted, but the approval of the law by the central government is seen as a potential turning point in the way this drug is perceived in traditionally conservative societies and in a country that many thought would be the the last to approve any use of cannabis, even if it is only at a low THC dosage for the moment.
To receive medical cannabis, patients will need to contact the Korea Orphan Drug Center, a government body created to facilitate access of patients to rare medicines in the country. Approval would be granted on a case-by-case basis. Patients will also need to receive a prescription from a doctor.
South Korean law on cannabis overcame a major hurdle in July when it got the support of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, which stated at the time that it would allow for four treatment, Epidiolex, Marinol, Cesamet and Sativex to treat diseases such as epilepsy, the symptoms of HIV / AIDS and the effects of cancer treatments.
The ministry said a series of laws will be amended and passed at a session of the National Assembly will expand treatment options for patients with rare diseases.
A number of other countries, including Thailand and Malaysia, fought to join Israel as the first Asian country to allow cannabis for medical purposes.
"The legalization of medical cannabis by South Korea, although it will be tightly controlled with limited selection of products, represents a significant breakthrough for the global cannabis industry"
said Vijay Sappani, CEO of the Canadian company Ela Capita, a Toronto-based venture capital firm exploring emerging markets for cannabis.
"The importance of Korea being the first East Asian country to allow medical cannabis at the federal level should not be underestimated. Now, it's about when other Asian countries will follow South Korea ... "
More interestingly, since the Korean state is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs, even "ordinary" cannabis is not technically considered a dangerous or prohibited drug.