A groundbreaking law legalizing medical cannabis in South Korea that takes effect March 12 will pave the way for the first import of certain THC- and CBD-based medications.
Although approved products will remain tightly restricted, the new law marks a significant milestone in the global industry and a turning point in how the drug is perceived in traditionally conservative societies.
Last week, for example, the staunchly anti-drug Singapore government signaled it is ready to allow imports of pharmaceutical products containing cannabinoids under specific circumstances.
Canopy Growth is among Canada’s multinational cannabis firms looking to enter the South Korean market.
The South Korean Legislature approved a law in November, though products will be limited and approval granted on a case-by-case basis.
Under Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) regulations, only certain cannabis products licensed and marketed in specific countries will be permitted.
That list currently includes Sativex, Epidiolex, Marinol and Cesamet, which have been permitted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Australia.
The MFDS listed epilepsy, symptoms of HIV/AIDS and cancer-related treatments, Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and multiple sclerosis as qualifying conditions if there is no substitute medicine already available in Korea.
Patients with “rare or incurable diseases” must submit the following to the MFDS:
- A general application.
- A doctor’s diagnosis, which must include the medicine’s name, dosage, number of doses per day and total days of administration.
- The patient’s medical records, along with a doctor’s note stating that no substitute medicine is available in Korea.
Patients will receive MMJ though the Korean Orphan Drug Center, a government body established to facilitate patient access to rare medicines in the country.
The ministry is currently working to establish detailed importing procedures.
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