Andong, the first hemp special zone in Korea, established itself as a mecca for the hemp industry

김태인 기자l승인2022.09.29l수정2022.09.29 16:38







Current status of the domestic cannabis industry

Hemp is basically classified into marijuana and hemp. Among them, hemp is a low-drug variety with hallucinogenic tetrahydro cannabinol (THC) of 0.3% or less. It is widely used as a raw material for medical hemp products abroad, and chongsam is also classified as hemp as a low-drug variety developed for textile use. 

In Korea, cannabis have been maintained for half a century only as objects of regulation and punishment through the ‘Narcotics Control Act’ enacted in 1970. With the limited legalization of medical cannabis from March 2019, some cannabis-based Western medicines, including hemp-based oils, can be imported and taken from overseas within the limits allowed by doctors. In January of last year, lawmaker Kim Hyung-dong said that the law should be amended so that cannabis can be used legally for medical and industrial purposes, and the government decided to amend the Narcotics Control Act to allow domestic manufacturing and import of cannabis-based drugs. 


▲ Jay Hemp Korea / CEO Noh Jung-gyun

The Korean Cannabis Industry Association takes the lead in the sound development and vitalization of the Korean hemp industry

“The Korean Cannabis Industry Association was established in October 2018 and registered to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The association is engaged in hemp production, distribution, processing, export, research, education, information provision, publication, and government entrusted business. And it runs six departments: ‘Hemp Agriculture’, ‘Hemp Fiber’, ‘Hemp Foods/Cosmetics’, ‘Hemp Building Materials’, ‘Hemp Science’, and ‘North Korean Hemp’.”


Andong, the first hemp special zone in Korea, established itself as a mecca for the hemp industry

Recently, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety unveiled the ‘100 Top Tasks for Food and Drug Regulatory Innovation’ that allows import of related materials. A green light has been turned on for domestic research and manufacturing of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals. In line with this change, Andong City is pushing forward the industrial ‘Hemp Regulatory Free Zone’ alongside guaranteeing the right to treat patients with rare and incurable diseases. The Hemp Regulatory Free Zone was selected as an ‘Excellent Special Zone’ in August after receiving a high score in the 2021 Operational Performance Review by the Special Regulatory Free Zone Committee of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. Korea stipulates that all plants of cannabis are narcotic, but did not designate narcotics based on pharmacological problems according to the substance components (root, flower, leaf, etc.) As a result, it does not reflect the changes of the times and social demands of the cannabis industry. 

Noah Jay, President of The Korea Cannabis Industry Association, said “Actually legalization of recreational cannabis still needs time in Korea. However, I do not understand why the industrial hemp cannot be commercialized. I am afraid that the industrial cannabis market will be lost to China and Western advanced countries will have to use it while paying high royalties after preoccupying the technology and other industries. The world is now trying to nurture new industries and use them as engines of economic growth, and one of them is the cannabis industry. I hope that the government will actively support the cannabis industry as a way to solve the government’s concerns about declining tax revenue, declining economic growth and rising unemployment.” Power Korea pays attention whether Andong and Gyeongbuk can become a mecca of the domestic hemp industry along with the selection of the first hemp special zone in Korea. 

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