This week the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced that as of 12th March 2019 a revised narcotics bill will go into effect that will allow imports of medical cannabis for self-treatment but under strict conditions.
Until now, the import, export, manufacturing and sale of cannabis has been illegal in Korea, except for the purposes of extracting textile fibre or for use in scientific and academic research.
Under the revised law, four types of cannabis-derived drugs that have been approved overseas by the FDA and EMA for self-treatment purposes can be brought into South Korea through the Korea Orphan and Essential Drug Center (KODC).
The use of these products are restricted to patients suffering from a rare or incurable disease. To receive them, one must first be approved as a rare disease patient through the KODC and medical records and a note from the doctor must be provided stating that there is no alternative treatment.
This surprise move to amend the Act on the Management of Narcotic Drugs came in November last year when the country announced the legalisation of certain medicinal cannabis products making Korea the first country in South East Asia to relax their notoriously strict laws.
The import and use of hemp oils, cannabis extracts, or edible products that have not been approved as medicine or medical supplies overseas will continue to be prohibited.