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is marijuana legal in south korea?
Smoking marijuana in South Korea is big no-no. We all know that. Actually, if you are a South Korean, smoking marijuana anywhere in the world is illegal. But that was not always the case.
Marijuana grows naturally on the Korean Peninsula and has done so for thousands of years, particularly in Gangwondo. The high-reaching plant was often used as a dust guard to protect homes from all the dirt and mud that would be kicked up.
Hemp (locally known as daema) was utilized for rope and the traditional sambe fiber for clothing. It was also used to create hanboks (the traditional Korean costume) and funeral shrouds.
The rest of the plant was often used by the elderly to help with the various aches, pains, and discomforts that come with age, particularly constipation. Because of its versatility and uses, Japan encouraged its cultivation during the colonial period.
The country’s first president, Syngman Rhee, sought to outlaw the use of various narcotics and, likely inspired by movements in the United States, passed the Korean Narcotics Act of 1957, which prohibited marijuana and many other drugs. Crucially, however, this bill prohibited “Indian marijuana” (cannabis sativa L.) rather than the locally grown hemp (cannabis sativa).
Marijuana laws in South Korea:
South Korea first enacted laws against smoking cannabis back in 1957 with the passing of the 1957 Narcotics Act. The act was passed against the use of Indian grown marijuana as well as a number of other hard drugs, but it did not include the use of South Korean grown marijuana.
Throughout the 60s and 70’s, during the hippie years, usage of South Korean weed flourished throughout the country. To deal with the mounting social issues connected with drug addiction, in 1976 the South Korean government passed the Cannabis Control Act banning the use of all cannabis types in South Korea.
In 2018, like many other countries to do so that year, the South Korean government passed legislation legalizing the use of medical marijuana, albeit under a strict set of guidelines and regulations. South Korea was the first country in East Asia to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.
Marijuana laws in South Korea:
According to South Korean law, the police are allowed to search you or test your hair follicles or urine for drug use anywhere at any time. As a matter of fact, the Korean DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has been known to enter clubs and perform random drug searches.
Found guilty? You’re liable to serve up to five years in prison as well as face a fine of 50 million won, about $42,500 USD.
South Koreans themselves are actually subject to their country’s laws no matter where in the world they’re located. In 2018, when the Canadian government legalized the use of cannabis, the South Korean police sent out a severe warning to its 23,000 students studying in Canada letting them know if they used weed in Canada, they would face South Korean prosecution.
As Yoon Se-jin, head of the narcotics crime investigation division at Gyeonggi Nambu provincial police agency proclaimed, “Weed smokers will be punished according to the Korean law, even if they did so in countries where smoking marijuana is legal. There won’t be an exception.”
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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 with epilepsy and other rare diseases in the conservative country. The country’s national assembly approved amending the Act on the Management of Narcotic Drugs on Friday to allow non-hallucinogenic doses of medical marijuana.
Still, using weed even for medical purpose will be strictly controlled with patients required to apply to the Korea Orphan Drug Centre, a government body facilitating patient access to rare medicines, after receiving a doctor’s prescription. Approval will be granted on a case-by-case basis, according to the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
South Korea has some of the toughest rules on cannabis consumption with citizens prosecuted for using weed in other countries where recreational marijuana is legalised. Under the country’s anti-drug laws, smoking and trading marijuana remains illegal with those found guilty facing up to five years in prison. Two other countries in the region – Thailand and Malaysia – are moving towards legalisation of medical marijuana.
Criminal Defense Lawyer
When being charged with a drug related crime it is essential to hire an expert in the field otherwise receiving a prison sentence is a high possibility.
Aaron Hwang from Seoul Law Group is a specialized criminal defence attorney certified by Korean Bar Association. He is both fluent in English and Korean, and is highly experienced when it comes to criminal cases, including drug crimes. The lawyers at Seoul Law Group are ready to help with any drug chargers and achieve the most preferable outcome,
not only for the case itself, but also for your visa status.
south korea law:
South Korean law is based on the concept that laws made in Seoul still apply to citizens anywhere in the world, and violations, even while abroad, can technically lead to punishment when they return home. Those who smoke weed could face up to five years in prison.
South Korea strictly enforces drugs laws even for small amounts, and celebrities caught smoking weed are often paraded in front of media for apology tours. Officials work to project an image of a “drug-free nation” and only about 12,000 drug arrests were made in 2015 in a country of more than 50 million people.
However, details on how police would test those returning from Canada remain hazy. Experts suggested enforcement would focus more on drug traffickers than casual users.
south korea law:
“South Korea can’t screen everyone who visited a foreign country, but the police maintain a blacklist that
leads to certain individuals being supervised,” said Lee Chang-Hoon, a professor in the department of police administration at Hannam University in Daejeon. “But the police are more concerned with the transportation
of marijuana into South Korea, and the police messaging shows they are anxious about tackling this issue in the near future.”
There are about 23,000 South Korean students in Canada, according to statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Marijuana has a long history of use in making hemp fabric in South Korea and the plant was banned only in 1976 under dictator Park Chung-hee. Before prohibition only “Indian marijuana” was labelled as a narcotic
and the drug was common in music and artistic circles in the 1960s and 1970s, where many took to “happy smoke”, as it was commonly called at the time, for inspiration.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Stronger forms of the drug include high potency strains – known as sinsemilla (sin-seh-me-yah), hashish (hash for short), and extracts.
Of the more than 500 chemicals in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC,
How Pot Affects Your Mind and Body?
Marijuana has mind-altering compounds that affect both your brain and body. It can be addictive, and it may be harmful to some people’s health. Here’s what can happen when you use marijuana:
You Can Get “High”
It’s why most people try marijuana. The main psychoactive ingredient, THC, stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure, like food and sex. That unleashes a chemical called dopamine, which gives you a euphoric, relaxed feeling.
If you vape or smoke weed, the THC could get into your bloodstream quickly enough for you to get your high in seconds or minutes. The THC level usually peaks in about 30 minutes, and its effects may wear off in 1-3 hours. If you drink or eat pot, it may take many hours for you to fully sober up. You may not always know how potent your recreational marijuana might be. That also goes for most medical marijuana.
You May Get Hooked
About 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. That means you can’t stop using it even if it harms your relationships, job, health, or finances. The risk is greater the younger you start marijuana and the more heavily you use it. For instance, the odds of addiction are 1 in 6 if you use pot in your teens. It might be as high as 1 in 2 among those who use it every day.
You could also grow physically dependent on marijuana. Your body could go into withdrawal, leaving you
irritable, restless, unable to sleep, and uninterested in eating when you don’t use it. Learn more about how to spot the signs of marijuana addiction.
It May Impair Your Brain
Marijuana can make it harder for you to focus, learn, and remember things. This seems to be a short-term effect that lasts for 24 hours or longer after you stop smoking.
But using pot heavily, especially in your teen years, may leave more permanent effects. Imaging tests with some — but not all — adolescents found that marijuana may physically change their brains. Specifically, they had fewer connections in parts of the brain linked to alertness,
learning, and memory, and tests show lower IQ scores in some people.