In November of 2018, the Republic of Korea became the first country in east Asia to pass a law legalizing cannabis use for medicinal purposes. The law, an amendment to the Management of Narcotic Drugs Act, restricted the legal cannabis products to strictly oil-based prescription medications and came, as in many other countries, as a result of a mother who sought medicines to aid her sick child.
The law change legalized CBD products only upon a doctor's prescription. On March 12, 2019 the market opened with new, more specific regulations from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) and licensed very few products for very specific ailments. The list included, as with many other medical cannabis programs, Sativex, Epidiolex, Marinol and Cesamet. Unlike other countries' programs, the government delineated which ailments these drugs could address: Sativex would be prescribed only to those with multiple sclerosis, Epidiolex for those with epilepsy, and Cesamet and Marinol would serve as anti-nausea medication for patients struggling with chemotherapy and AIDS.