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OffbeatSouth Korea Is the First East Asian Country to Legalize Medical Cannabis

23:05  12 december  2018
23:05  12 december  2018 Source:   usnews.com

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In late November, however, South Korea ’s National Assembly moved to ease laws and allow non-hallucinogenic doses of medical cannabis , making it the first East Asian nation to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, according In South Korea , while medical cannabis could soon be imported

South Korea is looking to become the first country in East Asia to legalize medical cannabis , marking a significant milestone in “ South Korea legalizing medical cannabis , even if it will be tightly controlled with limited product selection, represents a significant breakthrough for the global cannabis

South Korea Is the First East Asian Country to Legalize Medical Cannabis© (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 22: A marijuana plant is displayed during the 2016 Cannabis Business Summit & Expo on June 22, 2016 in Oakland, California. Policy makers and innovators gathered for the three-day long Cannabis Business Summit & Expo. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Until recently, South Korea made headlines as one of the most restrictive nations in its regulation of cannabis, and the country today still punishes its citizens not only for recreationally smoking marijuana within the borders of their homeland, but also abroad.

"Even in the legalized area of cannabis, please note that if the citizens of Korea smoke (including purchase, possess and transport) marijuana, they will be penalized for the offense," the South Korean Embassy in Canada wrote on Twitter after the North American country had declared medical marijuana legal.

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Cannabis in the Republic of Korea is illegal for recreational use. In November 2018, the country 's Narcotics Control Act was amended and use of medical cannabis became legal , making South Korea the first country in East Asia to legalize medical cannabis .

South Korea has become the first East Asian nation to legalize medical marijuana. In a recent decision by the country ’s National Assembly on Don’t expect to see recreational cannabis and flower for sale any time soon. A tweet from the South Korean embassy to Canada reminded its

In late November, however, South Korea’s National Assembly moved to ease laws and allow non-hallucinogenic doses of medical cannabis, making it the first East Asian nation to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, according to the Financial Times. Patients with epilepsy and several rare diseases will legally be able to get medical cannabis beginning as soon as early 2019, the country's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced, according to The Korea Herald.

The move comes shortly after Thailand announced it will legalize marijuana for similar purposes, taking the lead among Southeast Asian countries in doing so. In South Korea, while medical cannabis could soon be imported, "the import and use of cannabis that has not been approved for medical use in foreign countries will be strictly banned," according to the Korea Herald report.

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In the process, South Korea became the first East Asian country to legalize medical pot, and only the second country in Asia overall. Mind you, access to medical cannabis will be very limited, according to the legislation. Patients will need a recommendation from a licensed physician, then must

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Worldwide, cannabis is still a topic of debate, with its use in some form slowly gaining acceptance. Uruguay in 2013 became the first country to fully legalize marijuana, and Canada earlier this year followed suit.

Medical Marijuana Doesn't Always Lead to Wider Use

Experts, however, say people shouldn't expect further easing of regulations governing marijuana in South Korea. Countries across Asia are traditionally conservative societies, and many carry some of the world's harshest penalties for possessing drugs. Drug trafficking in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia can lead to capital punishment, and in Thailand, possessing drugs can bring lengthy prison sentences.

Karen Boxx, a law professor at the University of Washington who studies marijuana legislation in the U.S., says that when the legal ban on medical marijuana was lifted in that state, there was no clear evidence that cannabis would later become legal for recreational purposes as well. Today, Washington is one of 10 U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, that allow the recreational use of marijuana.

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South Korea has become the first east Asian country to legalise medical cannabis in a surprising move to expand the treatment options for patients South Korea has some of the toughest rules on cannabis consumption with citizens prosecuted for using weed in other countries where recreational

South Korea could become the first East Asian country to legalise medical cannabis products. Just like in the UK, which recently published guidelines legalising medical cannabis for a very restricted number of patients, approval for medical cannabis products would be granted on a

"I don't know what the expectations were in Washington (at the time)," Boxx says. "I think in (the U.S.) most people who are supporting legalization hope to get their foot in the door with medical and then lead to completely open. (But) there are others that honestly just want to keep it to medical."

At the same time, Boxx says legalizing marijuana just for medical purposes risks leading to wider use of the substance.

"In Washington, an issue that came up was whom are we going to give it to," Boxx says. [For instance, "it was notorious in California that it was very easy to get medical marijuana cards, the screening process wasn't stringent, and it was easy to get a prescription for."

In addition, medical marijuana brings with it a need to regulate the supply chain and understand where the substance will be coming from, be it from home-grown sources or a previously authorized supplier.

"You have to be able to ensure the safety of the product and that's tricky because it's an agricultural product, so you have to make sure that the product is safely grown," Boxx says.

From this perspective, legalization does bring benefits, other experts say, because limiting consumption of any kind is generally challenging.

"People are going to use it whether it's legal or not," says Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. "One of the benefits of legalization is that it allows for regulation, which leads to safer, higher quality, and more accurately characterized cannabis products."

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