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Japan opens up debate on medical cannabis

Japan’s Health Ministry looks set to follow a global trend when it comes to cannabis



japan cannabis control law

Japan’s Health Ministry looks set to follow a global trend and explore the legalisation of medical cannabis in the country.

Japan’s Health Ministry is set to draft proposals to revise the country’s Cannabis Control Law this summer, as reported by The Asahi Shimbun, after an expert panel met on 25 May to discuss potential revisions.

The meeting follows a report released by the Health Ministry in August 2021, recommending that the Japanese government follows in the footsteps of other countries where medical cannabis is legal such as the UK and Germany.

Currently, the Cannabis Control Law, which was enacted in 1948, prohibits the possession, sale and cultivation of cannabis along with the manufacturing of medicines derived from the plant.

The policy currently focuses on the different parts of the plant such as the stalk, leaves and flowers. In its revisions of the law, the Ministry is expected to instead ban specific compounds in the plant, such as THC, to make it easier for people to use cannabis for medicinal purposes.

But while the Health Ministry is taking steps toward making cannabis accessible for people with medical conditions like refractory epilepsy, the Government is also discussing a new provision that will further criminalise recreational users.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, some experts are calling for a public health approach to cannabis rather than imposing hefty criminal penalties.

Cannabis laws have been stringent in Japan since the introduction of the Cannabis Control Law, but the use of cannabis and hemp plants can be seen in Japanese history as far back as 10,000 years ago.

As one of the earliest known plants to be cultivated in the country, hemp is ingrained in certain parts of Japanese culture as a source of food and raw material for clothing and items used in traditional Shinto rituals.

These traditional items are still made today in Japan but only a select few cultivators are licensed to produce them.

The Cannabis Control Law came into effect during the allied occupation of Japan following the Second World War.

In subsequent decades, the country took a similar approach to the United States’ so-called war on drugs but while cannabis laws continue to relax in the US, Japan has maintained its strict laws.


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