South Korea became the first East Asian country to legalize medical cannabis following a pivotal vote this week by the country’s National Assembly, MJBizDaily reports.
Lawmakers voted to revise South Korea’s Act on the Management of Narcotic Drugs to allow for the prescription of low-THC, CBD-rich medical cannabis products. The plant will be regulated by the Korea Orphan Drug Center and patients will be given access on a strictly case-by-case basis.
“South Korea legalizing medical cannabis, even if it will be tightly controlled with limited product selection, represents a significant breakthrough for the global cannabis industry. The importance of Korea being the first country in East Asia to allow medical cannabis at a federal level should not be understated. Now it’s a matter of when other Asian countries follow South Korea, not if.” — Vijay Sappani, CEO of Ela Capital in Toronto, via MJBizDaily
The move was surprising for a culture and country that — following Canada’s landmark legalization efforts — has distanced itself from cannabis reforms and suggested to its citizens they could be prosecuted if they were discovered to have used cannabis while living, traveling, or studying overseas.
Nearby, Thailand and Malaysia have also considered medical cannabis reforms but, for now, South Korea joins Sri Lanka in being the only countries in Asia that have taken steps to reform the absolute prohibition of cannabis.