According to Hemp Today, the South Korean government has chosen its North Gyeongsang Province as the area that will become the ‘Special Industrial Hemp Free Zone’, with the objective of converting the province into a hub for “smart farming and high-tech, bio-based industries”. Lee Chul-Woo, the Governor of the Gyeongsang Provice, declared that this decision represents the start of an approach to South Korean industrial development based on cannabis.
Hemp Today, reporting the Governor’s declarations, mentions how the administration considers this regulatory area has a significance that different from that of the already established national medical marijuana program, because this regulation does not look at importing but, rather, to a rational industrialization plan for the medical production of hemp. Until now, cannabis and hemp were obtainable only through the Korean Orphan Drug Center, a national and public entity responsible for providing patients with rare medicaments. So far, the only cannabis legally available in South Korea was imported product purchased from Canadian company Canopy Growth. The goal, in this new regulatory context, is to develop extraction and processing operations capable of an export-oriented production.
Outside of the Gyeongsang Province, the current South Korean law only allows hemp farming with purposes of textile and seed production. Except for fibers and seeds, the whole hemp crop has been illegal under South Korea’s Narcotics Control Act since 1957, when the Rhee Syngman administration first enforced this law develops.