South Korean police warn citizens against smoking pot in Canada
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South Korean police warn citizens against smoking pot in Canada

SOUTH KOREAN citizens living in Canada have been warned against smoking marijuana as they could face criminal charges when they return to their home country.

The North American country recently made headlines for legalising recreational use of marijuana recently, but South Korean police have not given its citizens the green light to indulge in the drug, treating it as a serious offence.

According to the Korea Times, Yoon Se-jin, head of the Narcotics Crime Investigation Division at Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency, said South Korean smokers could face up to five years in prison, even if they consumed the organic drug abroad.

SEE ALSO: The 3 Asian countries in the race to legalise medical marijuana 

He said South Koreans were still subject to the laws of their country.

“Weed smokers will be punished according to the Korean law, even if they did so in countries where smoking marijuana is legal. There won’t be an exception,” he was quoted as saying.

After Uruguay, Canada became the second country to legalise recreational marijuana. The rule applied in some states in the US while the Netherlands, which is known for its “coffee shops”, did not legalise marijuana nationwide.

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A woman smokes a joint on the day Canada legalizes recreational marijuana at Trinity Bellwoods Park, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Oct 17, 2018. Source: Reuters

South Korea’s police also said there were plans to hold briefing sessions on the dangers of marijuana use with Korean residents in Canada and Uruguay.

The briefings are also expected to target the 23,000 Korean students in Canada.

SEE ALSO: Malaysia enters race to become first in Asia to legalise medical marijuana 

While largely conservative to the idea of legalising the drug for recreational use, some Asian countries like Thailand, Philippines, and Malaysia are looking to catch up with their western counterparts in legalising the drug for medical purposes.

In the US, medical practitioners use the drug to help cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and other patients cope with their symptoms.

Cannabis was found to be extremely effective in treating chronic pain, especially for those suffering from multiple sclerosis,  according to a major report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine entitled “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids”.

The report also found the drug to be effective for treating chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.