Koreans are increasingly calling for legalizing the use of marijuana for the medical purpose, especially after news broke recently that the U.S. authorities approved the first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana.
Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to Epidiolex, made out of a marijuana extract cannabidiol (CBD), to treat seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. It was the first time that the U.S. granted the nod to a drug containing a marijuana substance.
Following the FDA approval, a series of online petitions came up on the homepage of the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae to call for legalizing medical marijuana.
The initial petition was up on June 24 with the title, “A call for legalization of hemp oil for epileptic patients.” From July 5-8, similar petitions were posted every day. On Thursday, another post demanded a regulatory approval for medical marijuana use in Korea.
The petitioner who introduced oneself as a patient with Grade 4 epilepsy said, “Medical hemp is a ray of hope for patients with the epileptic disorder. The U.S. officially allowed the use of medical marijuana, but Korea has not yet done so.”
The petitioner went on to say that although such treatment was “within a hand’s reach” but the law was the obstacle to getting the proper treatment. “I do not want to live in pain every day. Please legalize the use of medical marijuana,” the petitioner said.
Not only the public but civic groups are pushing to lift the legal ban, citing similar cases overseas.
The Organization of Legalizing Medical Cannabis in Korea said Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Shin Chang-hyun’s revision bill to legalize the medical use of hemp is the one that should pass the National Assembly first in the second half this year.
“CBD is even excluded from doping tests in Olympic Games because it has no psychotropic ingredient. The latest FDA approval has verified its medical safety,” the pro-medical cannabis group said. “However, in Korea, the narcotics management law regulates marijuana-extract health functional foods and related medicines.”
The group claimed that Korea was going in the opposite direction to the global trends where many countries including the U.S. and Canada were decriminalizing the medical use of marijuana.
“The National Assembly, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, and other related government agencies should work together to revise the related law and come up with improvement measures,” it said.
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