Is CBD legal in South Korea?

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Understanding the Legal Status of CBD in South Korea

As the global interest in Cannabidiol (CBD) continues to grow, so too does the curiosity about its legal status in different countries. This article aims to shed light on the legal framework surrounding CBD in South Korea.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a natural compound found in cannabis plants. Unlike its counterpart, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not have psychoactive effects, meaning it does not cause a ‘high’. Instead, CBD is often used for its potential therapeutic benefits, including pain relief, reducing anxiety, and improving sleep.

The Legal Status of CBD in South Korea

In South Korea, the use, possession, and sale of cannabis and cannabis-derived products are generally illegal. This prohibition extends to CBD, which is classified as a controlled substance under the Narcotics Control Act. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Medical Use of CBD

In 2018, South Korea became the first East Asian country to legalize medical cannabis, allowing for the use of CBD for specific medical conditions. Under the new law, patients with rare or incurable diseases who have not responded to conventional treatments can apply to the Korea Orphan Drug Center for permission to use medical cannabis, including CBD.

Importation of CBD

While general importation of CBD is prohibited, patients who have obtained permission to use medical cannabis can import CBD products. However, these products must be approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and must not contain THC.

Penalties for Illegal Use of CBD

Despite the allowances for medical use, unauthorized use, possession, or sale of CBD can lead to severe penalties in South Korea. These can range from large fines to imprisonment, depending on the nature and severity of the offense.


In conclusion, CBD is generally illegal in South Korea, with exceptions made for specific medical uses. Individuals who wish to use or possess CBD in South Korea must obtain permission from the Korea Orphan Drug Center and ensure that their CBD products do not contain THC. As the legal landscape surrounding CBD can change, it is recommended that individuals consult with a legal professional or contact the relevant authorities for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

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