The phenomena of allowing medical marijuana has increased and still continues, and in 2018, South Korea joined the list of the countries where medical cannabis became legal.
According to McKenna, MD, “Medical marijuana is used to treat a number of different conditions, including: Alzheimer’s disease, appetite loss, cancer, Crohn’s disease, eating disorders such as anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, mental health conditions like schizophrenia, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, nausea, pain, and cachexia” (McKenna, 2014).
Medical Marijuana in Republic of Korea
The current status of medical marijuana in South Korea is that Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea have allowed usage of it solely for medical purposes, and bill related to legalizing such act was passed in the Korean National Assembly last year. Afterwards, according to a Korean reporter Lee, “As of March 2019, importing cannabinoids-containing medicine, only those containing CBD, for self-medical treatment became legal in ROK (Lee, 2019)”. CBD, which is an abbreviation for Cannabidiol, is among the most abundant of all the chemical features in marijuanas. Cannabidiol is known to have possible health benefits, such as containing abundant amount of antioxidant and neuroprotective properties within it. On the other hand, these medicines should not have THC, which is the cause for being “high”, within them.
List of marijuana-allowing states
In an online article, it was explained that the countries and states that have allowed both medical and recreational usages are Uruguay, Canada, Netherlands. Also, currently in the United States, medical marijuana is legal in 34 states and the Washington DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Furthermore, the US states where medical as well as entertainment usages became legal, are Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington (“Which Countries Allow Medical Marijuana Use? – MMJ Recs”, 2019).
One of the supporting arguments would be that legalizing marijuana could potentially lead to creation of new market. To specify, more jobs will be created by the manufacturing sector, utility sector, or even the government sector. Newly made numerous employment opportunities should lead to more disposable income for consumers. Furthermore, governmental revenue such as more tax profits will also be created if medical as well as entertainment usages become legal. According to a writer and a former corporate financial advisor Williams, “In Colorado, for example, nearly $200 million in tax revenue was collected in 2016 on $1.3 billion in legal sales. California’s recreational-pot industry, if it is able to operate, might generate $1 billion or more annually in tax revenue due to its market size” (Williams, 2019).
Arguments against medical marijuana and recreational usage are as follows. Firstly, concerns regarding side effects of marijuanas still exist. While there have been studies that have demonstrated positive future, utilizing cannabis has also shown danger as well. For instance, a study conducted by Northwestern University in the journal Hippocampus showed, through MRIs, hippocampus, which is the region in our brain that is most responsible for memory, were strangely shaped in adolescents who have used marijuana heavily for several years at high school ages. In other words, there is a concern that adolescents’ brains could be adversely affected if they use marijuana, and there is a greater worry that not enough is known about the continuing impact of it onto other important organs before having it legal. Next, there are no adequate parameters to police marijuana use yet, and without introduction of solid gauging method such as the gadgets used to determine drunk driving, problematic possibility of “driving high” would be unignorable. Lastly, there are serious concerns about using electricity excessively if marijuana became legal. For instance, Williams argues that “A 2012 study from scientist Evan Mills, Ph.D., at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that legal indoor marijuana growing farms were accounting for 1% of our nation’s electricity usage, totaling about $6 billion per year (Williams, 2019)”. If legalized, it is feasible to assume that demands for growing marijuana crops, from using lighting to temperature control by air conditioning systems via national electricity, could overwhelm national electric usage.
In conclusion, further scientific research must be conducted before medical marijuana can fully be approved for universal medical and/or recreational usage in Korea. Consequently, there are two differing stances concerning this issue. The optimistic stance would be that medical usages of cannabis will not be a problem, and expecting changes of social prejudices as well as witnessing more favorable views on decriminalization of weed altogether. Meanwhile, pessimistic viewpoint is that legalization of medical cannabis will remain controversial unless it is scientifically and completely proven to be helpful for treating conditions such as anxiety, pain, PTSD, depression, and etc. Thus, discussions regarding allowing or banning medical and/or recreational cannabis could be expected in more nations and states in the future.