Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Prominent Korean Actress Calls for Legalization

According to the Korea Times, actress Kim Bu-seon, 46, appeared on MBC TV in her home country on June 19 and spoke in favor of legalization. Kim launched a campaign for cannabis legalization in 2004 after she was arrested for marijuana use and sentenced to a suspended jail term. She then filed a petition with the Constitutional Court for a review of the constitutionality of the country's marijuana-related laws.

In the MBC interview, she protested the recent arrest of actor Oh Gwang-rok on charges of marijuana use, saying his actions caused no harm and that the drug did not affect his ability to act. "Have you ever heard of any news that I committed a crime after smoking marijuana? I have never done anything harmful, as politicians or thieves have," she said.

"Marijuana is not a narcotic; it is technically an Oriental herbal medicine which Koreans have used for 5,000 years," she said. "If smoking it doesn't do harm to others, those who do need it, such as those suffering from depression or cancer patients, should be allowed to use it. Marijuana increases appetite and improves sleep."

"Korea has the highest ratio of death by suicide among OECD members. The nation needs to take marijuana as a depression remedy and make depression patients come back to society....Whenever the government has troubles, it uses drug-taking entertainers to divert people's attention. It is the best way to make entertainers and artists obey the government,'' the astute actress told viewers on the live telecast. So far, MBC has not answered calls for an apology for the broadcast.

Oh Gwang-rok, most famous for his role as a wise man in “Taewangsasingi” (The Four Guardian Gods of the King), was arrested June 18 for smoking marijuana. Oh is suspected of having smoked marijuana on several occasions, including once in February at his house in Seoul. He allegedly smoked with the head of an unidentified information-technology company, known as Park, investigators said. Police said Park bought the pot from a local dealer and shared it with eight others, including animation film director Kim Mun-saeng. Oh has appeared in numerous films including “Seven Days” and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” (with Kim Bu-seon.)

Meanwhile, former champion downhill mountain biker Missy "The Missile" Giove, 37, has been charged with marijuana distribution and faces up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine if convicted, according to The Daily News. Giove is the most successful woman in competitive mountain biking's history, grabbing a record 14 National Off-Road Bicycle Association championships and 11 World Cup wins. Known for her outrageous looks and daredevil riding style, she is openly lesbian, and was featured in a Reebok ad and interviewed by David Letterman.

Investigators spied on Giove as she got off a plane at the Albany County Airport and took a cab to a hotel, where she met a confidential informant and picked up a pick-up truck and box-trailer. Approximately 400 pounts of marijuana were found in the trailer and at co-defendant Eric Canori's house. "Drug trafficking can lead you downhill fast," Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent John Gilbride quipped.